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

Me? Blog Hop? Yes please!

For the last few weeks I have been reading, with interest, various sewing blog hops where people answer a varying range of questions about their sewing/blogging/inspiration etc. It was therefore incredibly surprising, that this fledgling blogger (with only eleven posts to her name and an even fewer number of followers) was nominated.  So huge thanks to Rachel from Is it fitting for thinking that I might have something of interest to say –  Here goes . . . . . Why do I write?image I have always liked writing. I like the permanence of the written word – particularly from a social and historical contextual point of view. I find writings from women of the past fascinating.  I have been both a diary keeper and a letter writer – I guess that I am just moving with the times, albeit a little after everyone else, and now blogging.  Years ago Virginia Woolf wrote about the importance of A Room of One’s Own – the desire is just as important today and it is with great interest and pleasure I have read about various bloggers’ sewing spaces and how precious they are to them.

My first Sureau

My first Sorbetto

What am I working on at the moment? I am still in the September return to school flurry and have not completed any projects this month but I have started loads!  I tend to sew at weekends and knit during the week which is more manageable on my commute.  I have started knitting a patchwork blanket designed by Martin Storey as a knit-along for Rowan.  On the sewing table is a dress from Love at First Stitch (cut out and ready to sew), a yoke top from Learn to Sew with Lauren (cut out from the most gorgeous silk I bought in China this summer) and I am determined to make Fehrtrade’s VNA top for the Chichester Half Marathon which I am running on October 12th.

Chinese silk

Chinese silk

How does your blog differ from other blogs? It’s obvious isn’t it?  I’m new, don’t really know what I am doing, can’t easily add buttons, icons, etc.  take rubbish photos (or rather my willing students take them) and haven’t really established my own style yet.  I am working on that and hopefully by the time I celebrate my first blogiversary I will look back fondly (and with some embarrassment) at these early, juvenile posts.

Bluebell woods on a run

Bluebell woods on a run

How does my writing process work? I am a runner.  Whilst I am out I go through all sorts of things in my head: letters of complaint; job applications; blog posts.  I can assure you that somewhere on the South Downs are crafted the most amazing, original and entertaining blogposts.  Bizarrely, by the time I have got home, showered, done a million and one other things, all the little gems have vanished and what remains is what you can read here.

Post race ice cream

Post race ice cream

Nominations No pressure at all if not your sort of thing but I would like to nominate Lazy Daisy Jones  whose blog I discovered with this post on Day Three of OWOP and saw immediately that I would  love her style – her description of herself as a “mid-century …..mama who will forever be a girl at heart”  had me cheering “Me too!”   My other nominee is Sew South London who has been a kind and generous supporter of my blog and sewing efforts. Toodle pip Clarinda x

A brief foray into kids wear enabled me to use this wonderfully nostalgic fabric called Making Paper Planes

A brief foray into kidswear enabled me to use this wonderfully nostalgic fabric called Making Paper Planes

One Week One Pattern: I have joined the sewing community – Yay!

Since I first saw the details of OWOP I have been excited.  Having bought my sewing machine at Easter and having started to follow blogs soon after I have wanted to join in and be part of something friendly, exciting and it must be said ….. sassy.  Having seen all the amazing clothes which featured in Me-Made-May I was eagerly looking forward to next May and then, ta dah, along comes news about OWOP14.  I knew straight away it would have to be the Sorbetto so here is my round-up.

Day 1


A sunny Saturday at home and I wore my first ever Sorbetto.  I made this with fabric left over from a dress.  In fact, most of my Sorbettos have come from left over fabric – that is one thing I have discovered, pattern instructions appear to be very generous in terms of fabric requirements.  This fabric is supposed to be retro funky – it looks OK as a top but as a dress, it just looked too frumpy.  The skill I learned making this top was how to make my own bias binding and how to attach it  – I have The Little Tailoress to thank for this.  Her instructions are so clear and her blog just oozes with gorgeous quintesentional English Rose beauty. I wore the top with jeans for a relaxed weekend feel.

Day 2


A fantastic late summer day and a 10K race along the seafront for me.  I wore a sorbetto, minus the front pleat and with three inches additional length, as a running top. This was leftover fabric from my first Moneta (and my first jersey knit).  I think this could be my favourite Sorbetto – it certainly gets some glances.

Day 3


At work today so I had to look a little more formal.  I made this Sorbetto to wear when I sang WW1 songs with a pop-up choir.  Whilst I love red to look at, it’s not a colour I regularly wear so I had to rootle around for something to match it with. To be honest, I am not really happy with this look – it isn’t quite my style.  I have started to realise the depths of pleasure experienced when someone says they like what you are wearing. It happened today when I was in the bank.  To be honest, I’m not really keen on this one so was doubly surprised. Photo credit to one of my Y9 students who took the picture for me  – very bemused.

Day 4


Used ready made bias binding for this Sorbetto made with leftover fabric from a Lilou dress. As previously I added three inches to the bottom and a couple of lemon buttons.

I really like  this top – it feels summery and has had a lot of wear.


This Sorbetto is made with lovely Liberty Lawn. The clever design means that it works equally well with the browns/creams and with the blues.  Looking rather formal today as we had a meet the parents evening – this was taken just beforehand in Pizza Express.  I am really enjoying looking at everyone’s makes during OWOP and have also explored Instagram and Pinterest.

Day 6


My first repeat during OWOP14.  I am SO pleased I added an extra three inched to my later Sorbettos! Meet Tambo – 15 months old and incredibly handsome.

Day 7


Today my Sorbetto is looking a bit more informal teamed with a pair or lightweight trousers.  Here I am at Cowes, Isle of Wight for three days sailing with the new Y7  – the sun has shone on us all day and I am pleased to have participated in OWOP. The Sorbetto didn’t stay for long as I had to put on a wetsuit.

And finally . . . . .


The one that got away!  Just look at this gorgeous silk I bought in China this summer –  I had every intention of making one further Sorbetto for OWOP 14 but once the term started time just ran away.  Maybe for next year . . .

How was your week? Find any patterns you are going to try as a result of being inspired by others?

Toodle pip,


Great British Sewing Bee – the teachers version

Today has been the first day of One Week One Pattern 14 and I am really looking forward to being involved in an event with the on-line sewing community.


As I was putting on my Sorbetto and thinking about what I would say in my round up blog, I remembered  that the fabric was left over from my Great British Sewing Bee – the work version so thought that I should do a catch up blog about that.

Break time in my school is the only time of the day when we get ten minutes to sit and chat with our colleagues.  We are a funny bunch and tend to sit with the same group of people. My particular chums were all huge fans of The Great British Sewing Bee and decided to run our own version.  We chose the same pattern, asked the textiles teacher to be our judge and gave ourselves the May Half Term to complete our task.  It was SO much fun. I had only bought my sewing machine at Easter, another Bee literally bought hers to take part in the sewing bee.  We wore them all on the same day the first week back.  Our judge had really thrown herself into the spirit of things making her own dress, devising a mark sheet with judging criteria. There was an overall winner and individual categories – which surprisingly each of us won one of.


The report of our successes and short-comings were written up and appeared in the week’s school newsletter.  We were each given a prize – a pin wheel in  a handsewn case made by our generous judge Heather in the material she had used for her own dress.


We enjoyed it so much it could become an annual event – what about you?  Could you run a sewing bee in your place of work?

Efficient, no-nonsense but with a hint of fun …

. . . although not if you can see the waistband! I really enjoyed a recent post from Sewn By Elizabeth where she shared her thoughts on a free pattern – a good idea for a number of reasons, not least of which is getting something for free.   I found it hard to believe that she knocked up a fully lined skirt in half an hour but it really is a very straightforward make so three cheers for Sewloft Karina Skirt and for Elizabeth. image   This was my second ever knit piece and although I felt happier with the walking foot, twin needling has still eluded me.  I bought the fabric on EBAY and initially thought I had a bargain for £5.99 but realise it was just an end of roll remnant and perhaps I had been less canny than I thought. image I cut a medium which sits fine on my hips but the waist seems huge – I know it has to be able to wiggle over my bottom but it then almost sits apart from like a hoopla hoop.  I suspect I have completely misunderstood the elastic instructions. It looks fine with a shirt on the outside but I would prefer a more snug fit around the waist.  I was slightly anxious that it might actually wriggle itself down but my sturdy backside held it in place. image So, today was Back to School for the students although we have been there since Monday.  The whole time was spent with my new form and I wanted to convey an air of authority  – hence the choice of my grey skirt but with the hint that I might actually have a fun side by teaming it with my Bees shirt.  Do you think this outfit would have achieved my aim? image Really looking forward to One Week One Pattern – still don’t know how to get an icon or post on Pinterest so any  advice gratefully received.  

Secrets of the Sari

This week I really enjoyed reading Scruffy Badger’s post about how she had used a sari to make a beautiful dress;  that gave me the idea of writing a post about  some of the secrets of the sari. So, although it is not about my sewing, it is an appreciation of the beauty of fabric, drape and clever stitching.


At the beginning of the month I was invited to attend a ball which had the theme of Last Days of the Raj.  I asked my good friend Uzma if she would consider lending me her sari – I thought she would give me an old sari which could withstand some boisterous behaviour and a jig along to Oasis.  Imagine my surprise when she gave me one of her favourite saris – it was peacock blue, patterned with gold thread and absolutely gorgeous.

With my friend Sue - pre the dancing

With my friend Sue – pre the dancing

I was very worried about how I would be able to get it to stay on; I had always thought that modesty was maintained by some extremely efficient wrapping/folding/twisting method.  How wrong I was.  The sari is carefully constructed so that it hangs beautifully and is very secure.


One edge is weighted with a heavier fabric/lining and there are pleats actually sewn onto the band which give it a beautiful, drape.  There are hook and eye fastenings along with press studs which mean the whole thing is constructed to sit nicely on your waist and all you have to worry about is the throw over the shoulder.  I am sure any regular sari wearers reading this will smile at my simplistic explanation but I really did think it was a genius idea.


I LOVED wearing the sari – it was so elegant and the vibrancy of the colour and pattern really was beautiful.

WW1 song – Sister Susie Sews

For the last couple of months, since I have been reading blogs ( it’s become quite an addiction – I wake up at 3am and have a quick peek) I have been amazed at how quickly you sewistas whip something up for a specific occasion. Well, this week I did just that!

This weekend saw the start of the Arundel Festival – a ten day extravaganza of art, drama, live music, the silliness of the bathtub race ( yes, really – people use a bath as a vessel in which to race down the River Arun) and SO much other fun stuff.  This year I signed up to be part of a choir singing songs of WW1 for an event taking place the first weekend. There was a dress code – wear red!  Although I love the colour, I do not have any red clothes so, for the first time ever – thank you lovely sewistas and bloggers who have inspired me – I thought . . . . . I’ll make something!


And so I did. Clothkits have a bucket where you can find cheap remnants that are all one metre and, incredibly, I found lurking there this super appropriate poppy fabric.  It was labelled as Italian sateen – I don’t even knows what that means but it sewed up beautifully.  The Sorbetto has become (admittedly from a limited pool so early in my sewing life) a favourite pattern.   I increased the length by three inches – no one wants to see my mum tum/ middle age spread peeping out – and sadly had to abandon the centre pleat as I just couldn’t eek it out of my metre.

It was really satisfying to make something specific occasion and also a really enjoyable evening singing the songs from WW1.


One of the the most surprising things was that we got to sing a song about an early seamstress called Susie.  It’s rather fun but her efforts appeared not to have been appreciated.  I have copied it below just in case you want to do your own sing-a-long whilst you sew!

Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts

Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts For Soldiers

Sister Susie’s sewing in the kitchen on a “Singer”,

There’s miles and miles of flannel on the floor And up the stairs,

And father says it’s rotten getting mixed up with the cotton,

And sitting on the needles that she leaves upon the chairs.

And should you knock at our street door Ma whispers, “Come inside.”

Then when you ask where Susie is, She says with loving pride:


(fast) “Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers

Such skill at sewing shirts Our shy young sister Susie shows!

Some soldiers send epistles, Say they’d sooner sleep in thistles

Than the saucy, soft, short shirts for soldiers sister Susie sews.”

Verse 2

Piles and piles and piles of shirts she sends out to the soldiers,

And sailors won’t be jealous when they see them, Not at all.

And when we say her stitching will set all the soldiers itching,

She says our soldiers fight best when their back’s against the wall.

And little brother Gussie, he who lisps when he says “yes”,

Says “Where’s the cotton gone from off my kite? Oh, I can gueth!”

(Chorus faster) “Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers Such skill at sewing shirts Our shy young sister Susie shows!

Some soldiers send epistles, Say they’d sooner sleep in thistles Than the saucy, soft, short shirts for soldiers sister Susie sews.”

Verse 3

I forgot to tell you that our sister Susie’s married,

And when she isn’t sewing shirts She’s sewing other things.

Then little sister Molly says, “Oh, sister’s bought a dolly.

She’s making all the clothes for it With pretty bows and strings.”

Says Susie: “Don’t be silly” As she she blushes and she sighs.

Then mother smiles and whispers with a twinkle in her eyes:

Final Chorus – sang twice

(even faster) “Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers Such skill at sewing shirts Our shy young sister Susie shows!

Some soldiers send epistles, Say they’d sooner sleep in thistles Than the saucy, soft, short shirts for soldiers sister Susie sews.”

(Breakneck Speed Finale) “Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers Such skill at sewing shirts Our shy young sister Susie shows!

Some soldiers send epistles, Say they’d sooner sleep in thistles Than the saucy, soft, short shirts for soldiers sister Susie sews.”

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x