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

 

 

 

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The Button Man

Hello fellow sewistas, are you having a good week?

Last night was the final night of my coat making workshop at Sew Over It  – do I have a finished coat? Of course, I don’t! However, it should be completed by the end of the week. I did have an interesting day though – I met the Button Man of Soho.

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Our tutor had recommended that we have our buttonholes done at DM Buttons in Soho. As the establishment’s opening hours are 7.30 – 3pm, I knew I would only be able to get there in school holidays so although I think it is more usual to do your buttonholes as part of the finishing touches, I decided to visit yesterday before my final class as I didn’t want to be in the position of having a finished coat and then having to wait until Easter before I could get them done.

I am a Londoner, born and bred, and one of the lovely things about London is that you can find things off the beaten track that you never knew existed before and DM Buttons was one such experience.  In Soho I went down a side street, then down an alley (Mews to use the correct term) and then right at the very end was a white doorway that opened onto a steep staircase down which I descended to the basement to find the Button Man busily working away on a gorgeous gold corset style bodice.

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I was fascinated at the number of industrial machines and how quickly the buttonholes were done.  I had marked them up in advance but I had to re-do with tailor’s chalk and then whoosh – four keyhole buttons holes in a flash.  Honestly, it was the most amazing service – super efficient and super cheap: £4  I could not recommend this service enough. When Julie first suggested we get our buttonholes done I thought that was a bit of a cheat but of course, I see now it makes perfect sense to have something so prominent as buttonholes on a major garment finished professionally.

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See – perfect?  If you remember my button hole fiasco on the yoke top you will agree that I made a wise decision!

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The other interesting thing I discovered yesterday on my sewing journey is that  I have big shoulders – even more unfair as I have non-existent boobs. At class we spent ages learning how to place, sew-in (handsewing) and then secure the lining to shoulder pads – I guess that took about an hour an a half – I am such a slow coach at everything.  Anyway, once I tried my coat on it looked really odd – I didn’t get any photos as I was too busy weeping at that point. Instead of a nice line falling straight down the sleeve from the shoulder pad, there was a bulge outwards where my big shoulders were wider than the pads (which I originally thought were rather chunky).  It completely spoilt the line so there was nothing to do but to unpick all of my hand sewing and remove them.  By complete coincidence I read a blog post from Crab and Bee this morning about fitting clothes based on your shoulder size – who knew we had a shoulder size?

Half term is going well; lots of family stuff intermingled with sewing, marking, reading and walking on the beach. Hope to do an update on my half term projects at the end of the week.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

 

 

 

 

The continuing saga of my coat; Class 3 of 4

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I hope you are having a good week? It’s the day before we break up for half term and as per every penultimate day of a half term I am super stressed.  There is a big sign on the wall at the Sew Over It studios which says SEWING SOOTHES THE SOUL … OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. It does but my coat making has caused a lot of stress too.  There are four classes and homework each week – the tasks for which are detailed and numbered on really helpful A4 sheets.  I have just finished class three of four.  The lesson has seven tasks and there are a further three for homework.  I have managed to do task one … of the classwork!

I think the stress-inducing issue for me has been the homework – which is not something quick but a chunky four to six hours worth of work.  This amount of time needs to be carefully scheduled in but with consecutive weeks it can cause a build up in other activities which you normally do at the weekend e.g. marking (I am choosing to forget that I spent a glorious afternoon on the beach – wasn’t Sunday gorgeous?)

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I had not finished the  classwork/homework for week two so decided to skip off early from work and get to the studio two hours before my class.  I sat companiably with one the of the Sew Over It girls, listening to classical music and as I caught up, I did find that, yes, my soul was indeed soothed. Next week is half term so goodness knows what time I’ll have to arrive in order to make up the deficit after this week!

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I did learn an interesting new technique this week – pressing.  When I attached the front facings, Julie (brilliantly patient tutor) told me that I had to “press and pat” to get the facings to lie completely flat.  This involved steaming and pressing and then, so that the fibres don’t spring back into place you have to “pat” them back until the steam has been pushed out and the fabric has gone cold – it then lies much flatter.  The patting was accomplished by whacking the fabric with the ham – you can see how the end has mounded itself to my hand with all the pressure.  Anyway, it gives a nice clean finish.  We also marked on the buttonholes and I am going to take them to a man in Soho who apparently has a buttonhole machine and makes keyhole buttonholes for professional tailors – and amateur seamstresses apparently. I am looking forward to sharing my button hole experience with you next week – are you excited?

imageFinally, it is very difficult not to buy anything when you are in a fabric shop/haberdashery for five hours.  This is what I bought this week.  Some lovely broderie anglaise – isn’t that a lovely thing to say – BRODERIE ANGLAISE and a blue/black chevron jersey.  I’m thinking Moneta for the knit – I have been impressed with recent versions from Sew South London and Navy Blue Threads. For the cotton, another Belcarra maybe? It would make a lovely shirt but I have button hole fear at the moment – to sit alongside my overlocker fear – what IS the matter with me?!

I hope you’ve got a nice glass of wine lined up for GBSB tonight – wonder what I’ll spot that I recognise this week?

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

 

 

 

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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