Farewell to all that …

Hello all,

I have been enjoying all of the end of year round ups and reflections. It prompted me to look at my own post from this time last year when I set myself five goals – see Here. Oh dear. Only one was accomplished but nevertheless I think it has been a successful year on the sewing front. There is no point beating myself up over what didn’t get done. One of the lovely things about getting older is that you care less about things which, on reflection, are not important. I had a complete meltdown at 40 but since turning 50 I would say I have entered one of the happiest phases of my life. I get so much pleasure from my family and friends and I think that that, and continued good health are worth celebrating.

My 54th birthday - somewhere in the bay of Biscay. Dress from ENVY Arundel

My 54th birthday – somewhere in the bay of Biscay. Dress from ENVY Arundel

So,  my year in review. I discovered the joys of cruising. Here I am on my 54th birthday feeling FAB – the only thing which would make this better would be if I had made the dress myself … but I didn’t so there you go – no point fretting about that either! Something to aspire to … maybe.

I was super lucky this year to go to three weddings and for each of them I made my outfit. This was an achievement I am proud of and it added to the pleasure of a wonderful day. First up the first of my thirteen nieces and nephews got married. Here I am with Summer Rose, my son Sam and two of my nephews.

Flamingo border Kim for my niece Sarah's wedding

Flamingo border Kim for my niece Sarah’s wedding

Secondly, a friend of mine, Andy married his beautiful bride Onuma in a beautiful village in Hampshire.

A BHL maxi Anna covered in parrots (lovebirds actually)

A BHL maxi Anna covered in parrots (lovebirds actually)

Finally, a really close friend, Claire got married the first week of the Autumn term. I had been involved in wedding dress shopping and the hen night and was just elated for Claire all day. As a bit of a cheesy joke I made Mr CK a matching tie – people who knew us thought it was really funny but for anyone who didn’t, I guess they thought we were right weirdos!

Mortmain and matching tie!

Mortmain and matching tie!

The only thing I did complete of my stated goals was to make a coat. To date this remains my sophisticated make and I am really pleased with it – although I don’t know if I could do it again.

1960's coat made at Sew Over It

1960’s coat made at Sew Over It

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Social media became an increasingly important part of my life – as well as a time thief! I find myself getting stressed if I get behind on my blog reading/commenting.  The last third of the year I haven’t blogged as much but have continued to contribute to Instagram and now have over 400 followers there. Through the sewing community I have met a number of on-line friends – people I feel I could literally meet and we would be able to start chatting as if we had known each other for years.  This has happened with the people I have met up with, firstly at the Fabric Godmother Open Day and then at the South Coast SewBees meet up – a little nucleus of half a dozen bloggers which I hope will grow next year. And I have a penpal too! One sewing blogger (who shall remain nameless so as not to embarrass her!) and I have developed a friendship over long emails. Our life styles are different but through sewing we found a connection and that has been one of the really lovely things about my year.

SewBees at Ditto Fabrics

SewBees at Ditto Fabrics

Other highlights were that I was nominated for a bloggers award; my Frida Kahlo dress won a competition organised by The Monthly Stitch and I participated in various photo-hop challenges “meeting” new people and getting lots of inspiration along the way.

My winning dress

My winning dress

I’ve decided not to make any pledges for 2016. I have not one but two new jobs to start and I expect that will keep me very busy. I have a ridiculous amount of WIPs so feel I should try and finish at least some of those before I move onto other things. WIPs: Francine jacket; gabriola skirt to match my Francine Jacket; Cigarette pants; Ultimate blouse in a flamingo print; maxi Anna with sequin bodice and brocade skirt.

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So, thank you for following along with me this year. Your comments and support are very much appreciated – being part of a wider community has been a real blessing, particularly in the latter part of the year when I was overwhelmed with other matters. Onwards and upwards! Wishing you all a very happy new year – I don’t know where the quotation comes from to credit it  but … May your bobbin always be full.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

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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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A floral Anna and some funky shoes

Last day of the holidays guys – boo hoo. Anyway, hello and how are you?

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I find I am getting a lot of inspiration via Instagram these days and today’s post is about one of them.  I have seen Liberty Carline on numerous blogs but when I saw Rebecca’s Kim dress I knew I had to make one. I tracked down the fabric on EBAY and bought two metres for a reasonable price (end of roll, seconds – can’t remember) and it sat patiently waiting in my stash for me to get round to it. This was during my KIM phase.

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Following the success of my By Hand London Anna, I decided I would make the Carline up into an Anna (still love my Kim’s but Summer is slipping by) and had a little vote on my instagram as to whether I should go short or maxi – it was close but I went with short as I thought I would get more wear out of it. I am pleased with the result but sort of wish I had made the maxi after all – Love the drama!

imageSo, what to say about this Anna? Just to reiterate what everyone has already said – it is a superb pattern. It is SO straight forward to make up as the little cap sleeves are just part of the bodice – no bias binding or tricky facings for me to sew in upside down. The clever little pleats just under the boobies to provide shaping are really excellent and made this fairly flat chested person look as if she had some curves. Finally, the seven gored skirt panel is a triumph if like me you are sometimes rounder in the tum area!  I don’t know how but it just seems to skim the body in  a flattering way, easily adapted to the extra half a stone I have put on and still feel comfortable.

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I did think about putting in an exposed zip but once I had decided to go with the shorter length, I thought I would keep it a bit more subtle for school.  The dress had its first outing on GCSE results day, worn with a cream cardi (not the one in the picture below as that is a bit fluffy and glam) and was perfect.

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If you follow me on IG, you will know I have just come back from my first ever cruise (am mentally planning a post on this so won’t say more now) and wore my frock one of the evenings. Sorry the photo is not great – the combination of swaying ship and endless booze did not make for a steady hand.  Can you see my feet?

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A couple of days before we left, I went shopping in Chichester thinking to myself that I would try to get a pair of pink shoes (actually to go with my Flamingo Dress) in the last knockings of the sale. Who on earth would have thought I would ever stumble across anything so glorious.  I can confirm they are very comfortable to wear, go well with both  dresses and compel absolute strangers to stare at your feet (hopefully in awe but possibly not; Mr CK thinks they are diabolical).

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Today I will be mustering myself into return to work mode.  I have booked two further workshops at Sew Over It in Clapham which will be on the next six consecutive Wednesdays so I am looking forward to sharing the details of those with you – hoping not to get too stressed this time!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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I had a vision

Hello all,

Hope you have had a wonderful sunny Sunday.  I have just got back from a weekend Hen-do in Bath which was great fun and proved to me that the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun mantra is just as true for Hens who are 40/50 something is it is for the younger chicks.

I was SO lucky to receive as a gift from Ms Sew South London as metre of fabric she had bought in Hong Kong and posted because she thought it was very me and that I might like to make a Sorbetto out of it.  Well, as you know I make a Sorbetto out of practically every piece of fabric I have but nearly always as the second piece – i.e. my Scraps Sorbettos.  I really felt that such a lovely gift deserved to be used on a garment which would show off the fabric and felt that Tilly’s Clemence  skirt from Love at First Stitch was calling to me. By co-incidence a week or so before I had treated myself to some gorgeous shoes in the sales which were a coral colour and perfectly match some of the little handbags on the skirt.  I had a vision that I would waft around and look as glamorous as Tilly.  Well, it was a vision that sadly did not come to fruition!

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The instructions for the skirt were very good. I am certainly enjoying working my way through Love at First Stich and would highly recommend it – the technique I most enjoyed on this pattern was “sewing in the ditch”. As I had a metre I went right up to the selvedge and reduced the waistband by half; this was a mistake and unnecessary.  I think the skirt would actually look better for being a bit shorter.  What do you think?

This should be an out-take really - it's me trying to flatten my tummy for the photo

This should be an out-take really – it’s me trying to flatten my tummy for the photo

I decided to see if I could get away with wearing the shoes without tights.  The answer to that question is No – I only went to the local coffee shop to meet a friend and by the time I had walked back, I had an enormous blister!

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All of which has led me to consider another vision.  I think this skirt will look absolutely cracking in early autumn with navy tights, my coral shoes and a plain navy top. I am really looking forward to showing you another photo of this come September when I have styled it in work mode. It is exactly the sort of garment that my students will really enjoy and comment upon.

It is so lovely to have become part of our sewing community and to have made on-line friends like Rachel – it really was the most up-lifting experience to receive something in the post unexpectedly.

Toodle pip for now but there will be another post in a couple of days to celebrate a special birthday!

Clarinda x

Funky fabric and what it is destined to become

Funky fabric and what it is destined to become

 

Things I have discovered during Me Made May 15 Week 1

Hello all, I hope you are set for a FAB weekend?  It is a bit windy here but I have shedloads of marking to do so the weather is fairly irrelevant.  So, my first time of joining in with MMM15 – as I only started sewing in April 2014 it is quite exciting for me to be able to join in.

Day 1 Wearing my Colette patterns Dahlia – this dress was such a struggle to make (details here) – I had so many problems with the neckline.  There is an inverted pleat at the back scooping up four inches of surplus fabric (which is why I am wearing a cardigan).  The first thing I’ve realised during MMM15 is that it is quite tricky finding someone to take photos for you/of you without feeling deeply embarrassed.  Friday was the last day for our Y11s so we were outside having a class photo and I got one of the students to take this – I hadn’t realised at all that I was being photo-bombed till the girls all started shrieking with laughter. I do like the Dahlia but have yet to brave making another.

Being photo-bombed

Being photo-bombed

Day 2 – this is part of my Saturday routine.  I do the shopping (you can see it on the floor next to me) then I finish up by popping into a local coffee shop for a latte – it is here I usually catch up on blogs.  This is another thing I have discovered – MMY15 is an absolute time thief.  I am only doing Instagram (I did think about Flickr and Pinterest but thank goodness I abandoned those) but it is taking all my time to keep up with everyone – I actually feel anxious that I might miss something!  I have seen some lovely makes over the past week and found some new blogs to follow which is really good.  Here I a wearing one of my early Sorbettos  – made with leftovers from the dress I made for the work sewing bee.

At GROUNDS our local, independent coffee shop

At GROUNDS our local, independent coffee shop

Day 3 – I was pottering about at home trying to finish my Gabriola and popped down to my friend Ali’s for her help with fitting.  She was busily adding the finishing touches to her FAB Map Dress (a collar which was apparently later discarded). I am wearing my Tilly and the Buttons Francoise which was my Christmas Day dress (another neckline problem for me). What is so odd about this dress is that it looks as if it should be fairly formal/uncomfortable being made in wool but it’s not at all – I am wearing it as a comfy, slob about in, sweater dress.  And here is another thing I have discovered – all my garments are too big for me.  I clearly do not measure myself properly.

Map dress credit to my friend Ali

Map dress credit to my friend Ali

Day 4 – Bank Holiday Monday and a glorious day for a walk.  We went off in search of bluebells as I had just finished my Gabriola and thought it would make a great location shot – it was quite fun lurking behind a tree to whip off my Sew Over it Ultimate trousers and change into skirt and heels. Before we came to the bluebells we passed these gorgeous fields of Rapeseed  – I saw three other MMM15 participants on Instagram similarly photographed.

Gorgeous fields of Rape

Gorgeous fields of Rape

Day 5 – back to work and here I am in one of my Y13 lessons.  You can hardly see it in the photo but I made the shirt at a workshop at Sew Pretty and it is covered in little bumble bees.  I would say this is my most frequently worn garment – not sure why I haven’t tacked another shirt yet – I certainly have bought patterns.  I think it is to do with a fear of  buttonholes.

This is how I spend my days

This is how I spend my days

Day 6 – I look a bit of a mess here.  The skirt is new from Seasalt and even when I bought it I was thinking I could easily make that but I was really drawn to the fabric and then struggled to team it with anything.  My Me Made item here is the cardigan which has a cable edge and a single button.  I was a knitter before I was a sewer but not a very advanced one and I had never heard of blocking until I started reading blogs.  I have really enjoyed seeing all of the sophisticated knits being proudly worn for MMM15.

back to the tree shot

back to the tree shot

Day 7 – Election day.  I was waiting outside before the Polling Station opened and asked the guy next to me in the queue if he would take my photo.  I explained it was for my blog and he asked what I blogged about – he certainly was not anticipating my answer! I am wearing another Sorbetto made in a fabric with beautiful garden birds on it.  One of my students said I looked very “FatFace” which I take as a compliment.  I posted this pic on my Facebook and a number of people asked if I was standing – I guess it does look like it.  Anyway, not so smiley the next day as my team didn’t win.

Election Day!

Election Day!

Day 8 – I realise now that the scarf doesn’t go! This is my Tilly and the Buttons Delphine.  I have made two now and I have to say – very functional work wear.

At the Juniors

At the Juniors

Day 9  – and so to today!  I am home alone which led me to take my first ever mirror selfie.  I am wearing my Deer and Doe Sureau which is clearly far too big for me: a shame because I love the denim and antique brassy buttons. I’ve taken far longer over this blog post than I intended – clearly operating as a displacement activity for what is waiting for me!

First ever mirror shot

First ever mirror shot

Bonus  – here is the Gabriola I wore on BH Monday (but only briefly to get blog photos)

blog photo shoot!

blog photo shoot!

Thank you for reading, if you managed to get this far! I hope you are having a lovely weekend and enjoying MMM15 if you are playing along.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

The reason why I will not be sewing this weekend

The reason why I will not be sewing this weekend

 

Perfect for Bluebells

 

Hello dear readers, fellow bloggers and especially Me Made Mayers,

During last year’s OWOP I was lucky enough to win three patterns as part of a giveaway and one of them was Sewaholic Gabriola. On 29th September 2014 I pledged here that I would make up all three patterns and blog about them. Well …. one down two to go.

imageI bought the fabric originally (cheaply, on-line, can’t remember from where) to make a frock for the Lilac Dinner (a school event) but it was usurped by another predominantly lilac fabric I subsequently found at Sew Over It.  Anyway, I had the urge to tackle the Gabriola and thought that the abandoned polka dot would be perfect.  I had a little ponder over the zip and put it to the vote on  instagram; the invisible zip won. What do you think?

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I DO like the lacy one and hope to use it soon on something suitable.

Today is BH Monday – it was sunny earlier.  We tried to take photos up on the riverbank (my garden ends at the river) but it was too blowy really.

imageimageIn the afternoon we planned to go on a bluebell hunt so set off on a lovely walk: we did find some glorious bluebells  but I have to admit – I did not wear my high heels and super swishy skirt all the time so what you see here is very much a “location shot”.  I wish I had a decent camera rather than the one on my ipad.

imageIn terms of making up, it took a while as most things do for me.  The sizing was odd.  I would describe myself as a classic pear but my waist was size 10 whilst the hips were size 6.  I knew I would struggle to grade as there were all the yoke pieces to get through but lovely Saturday Night Stitch gave me good advice – thanks Hila, it worked! I did have to fiddle around a bit once I had traced off the pattern because I hadn’t realised how much of a jigsaw the yoke would be – my fault I should have labelled up my pieces more carefully.  I an lucky enough to have a lovely friend and neighbour called Ali who also sews.  I popped round to hers to get fitting help before I put my zip in  – I had to cut a wedge out of the back. This is why this particular skirt is a better fit than most of my other makes! Whilst I was there I spotted this gorgeous frock on her dress form  – a genuine vintage make.

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Finally, are you doing Me Made May? I am LOVING it!  I have seen so many FAB outfits on Instagram but it is a terrible time thief.  I am not sure how I am going to keep up with what everyone is wearing once I have to go back to work tomorrow.  Not as many Sorbettos as I thought – which is good for me!

Have a good week – I am already planning my next post – a Me Made May round up.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

imagePS just a final pic to show you how well my Swedish Hasbeens go with the Gabriola – roll on gorgeously hot summer days

 

Kim, Flamingos and a (Copy) Cat

Hello all,

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I finished my Kim Sewalong a little bit behind schedule but still on time for my niece’s wedding on the 11th April.  She is having a very colourful wedding in Peckham and I thought this fabric would be perfect for a fun dress – here I must confess – the inspiration came from Dolly Clackett whose dress I have completely copied – please forgive me and thanks SO much for being such a huge source of inspiration to me during my first year of sewing.  There, I’ve got that out of the way right at the beginning of the post so now I can give you the deets.

I am writing this post as my contribution to the Monthly Stitch Collective and the theme for March is Inside Out.  Well, the insides of this frock will probably make you sigh with disbelief.  So far, every dress I have made has had shedloads of surplus fabric so instead of the three metres I should have got, I went for two.  Big mistake.  The skirt is supposed to have all three metres in it so mine is nowhere near as swishy as it should be.

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The bodice is lined and as I didn’t have the full amount of fabric (Grrrr), I couldn’t get the lining out of the same fabric. As I had already started cutting out and just wanted to get on to sewing I searched my stash – which is nowhere near as abundant as some I  have seen.  The only fabric I had which was not printed or not cotton was some gorgeous broderie anglaise I had bought from Sew Over it and cost half as much again as the dress fabric itself.

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It looks very pretty anyway.  If you are a regular reader you will know I have a fear of my overlocker, which came threaded with black.  I decided I would be bold and use it to finish my seams …. can you see where this is going?

imageI promise I won’t do this again.  I have now had a private lesson and been shown how to change my threads – although I haven’t yet done it by myself. If you look very carefully at the picture of the bodice you can see just see the darkness of the thread peeping through – Oh I am a wally. Luckily it’s on the inside so only I know.  The bodice top was a challenge for me – I have never done that thread the fabric through the shoulders thing before – I didn’t think it would ever go through and when it did, the fabric was so creased it looked like a rag.  Here is a picture mid procedure – looks rude doesn’t it?

imageI also learned a new technique for gathering and I have to say, it has produced the best results so far; you prepare the gathers by hand-sewing two rows of running stitch at the same time.

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Although I am please with the overall outcome, there are a few things I regret – of course, there are. The black overlocking and the fact that I didn’t handstitch the hem.  On the plus side my invisible zip insertion is improving and if I can get my waist seams to line up it would be moving towards perfect.

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So all in all a reasonable outcome. The fabric is called Flaming Boarder and I got it from Fancy Moon; the dress pattern (which I would highly recommend) is By Hand London’s Kim – but don’t skimp on the fabric.

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imageI thought you might like a little close up of my shoes.  I have become obsessed with Swedish clogs – I bought two pairs at the end of the summer in the sale which I hadn’t had chance to wear but now that I have and know exactly how comfortable they are, I have bought another …. sssshhhh, don’t tell Mr CK this ….. three pairs.

So, the clocks have gone back, Spring is officially here and it is the first day of my two week Easter break – Happy Days!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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A little tale of inspiration involving Margate, Isle of Wight and GBSB

 

The Great British Sewing Bee is dear to my heart and I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode of series three.  I felt so inspired to sew at the end of the second series I booked a workshop which offered to teach basic skills to enthusiastic beginners.  The Easter workshop, at Cloth Kits, Chichester was called Make your Mother proud; I think it more likely she would have been bemused.

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The workshop confirmed my new passion and I went straight to John Lewis and bought a Janome sewing machine. I then discovered sewing blogs and a whole new world of inspiration opened up to me: Scruffy Badger; Handmade Jane; House of Pinheiro; Lladybird, Dolly Clackett and Did You Make That.  With only basic skills I became a little like Catherine Tate’s character who always said “I could do that“-  only with me it was “I could make that”.  So, the beginnings of an addiction was born; following sewing blog royalty, I emulated choices and bought patterns and fabrics.  One particular post which inspired such purchases was this one from Did You Make That. I ADORED the fabric – it reminded me of my holidays as a child.  It was a tana lawn from Liberty and the design was called Isle of Wight.

imageI didn’t go to The Isle of Wight as a child; we always went to Margate. I have happy memories of going to Dreamland night after night after having spent my days making sandcastles and paddling; some of the illustrations in the print reminded me of those gloriously carefree holidays of my childhood.  My parents never went abroad (few did to be honest from the little corner of South West London where I grew up) but many years later I took my parents on a day trip to the Isle of Wight.  It was a really special day – my mum was so excited because she thought it meant she had finally gone abroad!  The last family holiday I had with my own children, before they decided they were too cool to go on holiday with their parents, was to the Isle of Wight so it is a wonderfully nostalgic place for me.  Having bought the fabric and pattern I put them in my wicker stash basket where they have languishfor the past six months.

By the summer I decided I too wanted to blog to share my sewing adventures and in early August 2014 Clarinda Kaleidoscope was born.  Retrospectively I realise I made a faux pas with the name because A. it is not easy to remember and B. it does not convey any sense that it is about sewing but, what can you do? In any case, I like it!

So I sewed, and blogged and got more and more involved in my new hobby – even making a running top for my other passion. Since I’ve been sewing I have not run nearly enough – both are absolute time thieves.

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So I’ve had my machine for about nine months now and when the GBSB aired this week I was astonished at how much I knew compared to last time; I recognised bodices, techniques – I can even put in an invisible zip which appeared to cause some consternation!  However, the thing I was most chuffed at was that one of the contestents, Amanada, whose blog I follow made her summer frock challenge in …. Isle of Wight Liberty Tana Lawn.  So, I abandoned my weekend sewing plans and decided to use my Isle of Wight to make Sewaholic’s Belcarra blouse.

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I was really pleased with how it came together and as I was feeling so nostalgic by this point, thinking of childhood and holidays of the past, and of course, my lovely mum, I decided to have a look through her button box to see if I could find anything which would go with my new blouse.

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The Belcarra doesn’t have any fastenings – it just pulls over the head so the buttons I put on are purely decorative. They are incredibly subtle, barely noticeable in the photos but the pleasure for me is knowing that they are there – a little reminder of the precious past.

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Overall, I think the Belcarra is super versatile.  It looks a bit boxy here – I usually go for a size 12 equivalent but went with the measurements on the packet and cut a 10 – I almost think I could go a size smaller.  I think this will look great with denim shorts in the summer and equally good with a work suit – adding just a little bit of fun.

So, there you go, a few memories, places and people who have inspired me, brought together in one sweet little top.

Have a lovely Sunday,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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A week of firsts and a trio of Dahlias

My pink sewing journal has recorded a lot of firsts during the early days of January and I am feeling rather pleased!

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I went fabric shopping in Brighton for the first time and thanks to Ditto Fabrics I have increased my stash which was paltry compared to others I have seen.  I loved having a jolly good rummage and I can see how addictive it could become.  Anyway, having said in my last post that I thought sewing with denim was a bit of a challenge for me, I DID actually go ahead and buy some which has led to further firsts: sewing with a denim needle and using topstitch thread.  I know this probably seems rather dull to some of the more experienced sewistas but if you are fairly new to the sewing, you will appreciate my trepidation and excitement – hopefully I will be able to blog my denim outfit in due course but here is a taster of my fabric and facing combination – look familiar?!

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The doggie fabric is for a shirt which I will wear with black twill Ultimate trousers – once I have made them that is. The polka dot is for a skirt and as for the bird fabric – who knows? It just looked so sweet I couldn’t resist it. Any suggestions for one metre? Whilst in Brighton I also saw this amazing display in All Saints – 200 antique sewing machines: I counted them!

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The overlocker has finally been used on a garment – shock, horror.  When did I get it? October maybe? Anyway, I am tinkering about with Tilly’s Megan (sounds rude doesn’t it?) which has been a WIP abandoned from about August. I’m still making slow progress.

I never sleep well the night before the return to school so when I was wide awake at 2am I decided to read some blogs, as you do, and saw this absolutely cracking dress from Dolly Clackett.  I have to admit I shamelessly immediately bought the fabric and pattern – Paypal makes everything too easy – and intend to make one for myself for my niece’s wedding in April.  What do you think?  Stunning.

And lastly, we had another sewing bee at work.  Six of us were supposed to take part but Christmas is a busy time and not every one finished.  Here are three of the Dahlias – without exception we all had problems with excessive fabric at the neckline and had to make significant adjustments.  I do love Liz’s version  – the plaid.

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So, lots of things on the go at the moment but nothing quite finished as yet!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x