The Sewcation begins …

Hello all, I hope you have had a good Monday?

Today my euphemistically named Sewcation began and it got off to a wonderful start – silver linings and all that.

Having unexpectedly found myself with time on my hands, I researched local sewing workshops – of course I did – and found that ClothKits had a Pattern Cutting course starting today.  When I rang at the beginning of last week, only one other person had booked so it wasn’t running.  I asked if I could leave my number in case there was a flurry of last minute bookings and imagine my delight when I received a call on Friday to say the course would run.

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In fact, there were only two of us – such a privilege. The tutor took us through taking our body measurements and then we drafted the bodice pattern.  This took from 9.30 – 1pm and I didn’t sit down once.  It was SO mathematical AND I finally got to see how a Pattern Master works.  I bought one months ago when I was on a workshop at Sew Over It. That saying All the Gear and No Idea certainly applies to me but I do now know how to use the curved edge to draft a neckline.  It is really interesting looking at your measurements in such detail.  You may recall I have previously bewailed my big shoulders (here)  The evidence was there in black and white today! The other lady and I both looked normal to me. Interestingly our measurements were juxtaposed: I have no boobs and definite shoulders whilst she has a bosom and narrow shoulders.  It’s perfectly clear to me now how all of you experienced seamstresses make wonderful garments that fit – I think my approach has been tentative tweaking and hoping for the best.

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We eventually finished our draft pattern and cut it out in calico – goodness knows how many toiles we are going to make to get this right but we were each advised to buy three metres. Our homework for this week is to sew up the bodice top and “Draw design ideas for top” – Lordy Lordy. That might be a step too far for me – I just want to be able to adapt the patterns I do have to fit me.

By the end of the morning my tummy was rumbling in an embarrassing way.  I really fancied pasta so on the way to the station I popped into Carluccios – so now I have became one of the Ladies who Lunch. I only mention this because it was delicious and you might want to try it.  I had the homemade ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta in a buttery and sage sauce.  When it arrived there were only NINE pieces of ravioli but it turned out to be the perfect portion size as you can see!

Thank you Mr Carluccio

Thank you Mr Carluccio

Just before I close, I want to give a little mention to Lynne who blogs at Ozzy Blackbeard because it was her posts on pattern drafting which first made me wonder if it was something for me – well, thank you Lynne – it is!

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Tomorrow I am going to tackle the flamingo shirt which has been laying, sadly forlorn, in a bag since I shoved it there six weeks ago. As you see, my homework is considerably overdue!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

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The Vintage Shirtdress … at last

Hello sewing chums,

I normally try to post each weekend with an occasional mid-week post but the combination of end of term madness and Wimbledon has meant that I have fallen behind with my self-imposed schedule … now I get why the more sophisticated bloggers schedule posts.  Still, I have been active on Instagram and am very pleased with just how frequently I am wearing my own makes these days. Anyway, the only reason I am bothering to give you this little explanation is just in case you were following my progress at the Sew Over It studio to make my Vintage Shirt Dress; I blogged Week One, then Week Two – were you having restless nights worrying about what happened on Week Three? Well fret no more – it’s finished!

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I have to admit the final workshop was not a happy experience for me.  Following the problems of the previous week I had done a lot of work at home to get back on track and arrived at the class with only the neckline facing, buttonholes and hemming to go. The first task we all had to do was choose fabric for our next shirtdress. Lisa had kindly arranged for each of us to have a new pattern and fabric so that we could make another shirtdress (if you read about week two you’ll understand this).  I picked a floral in deep, rich colours which I thought would make a great layering shirtdress in the cooler months (what is the matter with me thinking about autumn at the start of the summer holidays?) but yesterday when I was wearing my Gabriola and thinking about how much I enjoy wearing a maxi, I suddenly realised what a great maxi it would make.

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Anyway, back to class. The neck facing went on swiftly and I began to get excited thinking I might actually be able to wear it to see  The Importance of Being Earnest later that week (a theatre trip with colleagues to see farewell to a lovely lady who had been at our school for 29 years). Well, that was SO the wrong thing to do.  Once I had had that thought, nothing went right.  I spent about two hours faffing about with the buttonholes and didn’t get a single one finished.  It turned out my machine was at fault but by the time that was established I was in a complete strop and left the workshop in tears. Apologies to Julie if you read this.  I must repeat here what a wonderfully patient sewing teacher Julie is.

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Our school library is actually much better appointed than this photo would indicate!

Another frustrating feature about this is that my own machine had a fault with the button hole function and as I haven’t got it fixed, I couldn’t finish my frock at home.  Hoorah for working in a school – I went to the textiles room after work and finished my button holes.

My not very good buttonholes - I need to work on this

My not very good buttonholes – I need to work on this

I struggled to get decent photos – tried to get a few in the garden but it was overcast and the others were taken at school on my first day of wearing the dress.  It was Prize Giving day (linked to Y13 leavers) so it was actually worn under my academic gown  (no photos of that piece of ridiculousness).  Thanks to my colleague Liz for taking photos in the library for me.

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A silly picture of me twirling - it seems to be the rage in blogs at the moment

A silly picture of me twirling – it seems to be the rage in blogs at the moment

I will definitely make the dress again – I actually really like it and it fits well after all the alterations but next time I will make it in the right size.

imageI really must comment on the gorgeous fabric.  It’s Liberty Tana Lawn bought in Cloth Kits, Chichester.  They always have a good selection of Liberty including some on sale (which this was).  The design is Winter Dreams of Spring and if you study it closely all sorts of lovely things come into focus but from a bit of a distance it looks rather subtle.  I bought three metres as the pattern suggested I needed and managed to also get out of it a Sorbetto (of course I did) and made a tie for my colleague to celebrate him passing his NQT year.

Sorbetto worn at work with chinos

Sorbetto worn at work with chinos

I think it works really well as a tie

I think it works really well as a tie

I haven’t seen the tie on yet as I only gave it to my colleague on Friday – the last day of term – but he seemed pleased with it.

Well, it’s been a picture heavy post and not too many details about the actual shirtdress.  I think that’s because the making process was fraught and not a happy experience for me so I didn’t want to dwell on the detail but I am certainly pleased with the outcome.

And so begins, seven happy weeks of holidays with much reading, sewing, running, tennis, cooking and hopefully blogging planned.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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Week two of my coat making plus a dollop of naval gazing

At my coat making workshop last week, I became acutely aware that I was a nightmare student – as a teacher myself this is particularly embarrassing. There were only three of us which is an excellent ratio but even so I ended up with far more than my fair share of the tutor’s time because I was continually fussing. I really don’t know what happened but I became completely flustered and got myself into quite a state.  At the end even the tutor said she was surprised that I was so insecure  – she actually said that – as I could clearly do the work.  SO ….. I have spent a long time pondering about why I had been so needy and I finally came up with a theory: I am a control freak.  We were given all of the pattern pieces (three huge sheets) plus separate A4 packs for each week with associated diagrams of what was to be covered. I think I was so overwhelmed at seeing the sheer volume of what had to be done, I just kept asking and double checking.  Retrospectively, I think had I taken ten minutes to just sit down and read what needed to be done so that I least I knew where I was going, I would have been fine.

 

imageHaving felt so needy during the workshop I was determined to get ahead for the next week so I diligently threw myself into my homework on Saturday – it was extensive!  It took me five hours to finish cutting out the pieces and iron on all of the interfacing/lining, some of which you had to “draft” yourself.  The instructions said you needed to iron over a fine cloth but after pressing and pressing and getting nowhere, I abandoned my liberty lawn scrap and applied my iron directly to the interfacing and hey presto, it worked a treat.

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Last night we had the second workshop and I was much calmer which I think was a relief to everyone!  Three hours rushed by and all I really did was attach the pockets/linings – a really interesting technique and then, after a fitting, adjust the back.

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Needless to say there is a LOT of homework again this week: attaching the collar to the front facings and the coat back and constructing the lining including little dart pleats which I haven’t done before. All of which means I won’t get to do all of the other sewing I had planned!

imageAlong with many others – Justsewtherapeutic and Lazy Daisy Jones  – I am having a bit of a knicker phase at the moment; I bought these gorgeous fat quarters from Guthrie and Ghani in the new Liberty Lawn Alice in Wonderland designs.  Seriously, aren’t they gorgeous?  Having made a pair already I should only need an hour but I have to prioritise my coat so we’ll see.

imageWhilst as Sew Over It, I took the opportunity to buy some little goodies from the haberdashery (How I LOVE that word!); zips and threads for the Mortmain dress I plan to make in March and a funky little magnetic pin tray.  All of that lovliness AND The Great British Sewing Bee is on tomorrow night – Life is Good!

Hope you are all having a fun week, enjoying the snow etc.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally … the lace dress of doom is finished

The finally finished dress

The finally finished dress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The lace and the lining

The lace and the lining

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

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

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

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

Hand sewing my not so invisible zip

Hand sewing my not so invisible zip

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

Lace finish on the neckline - a unique feature!

Lace finish on the neckline – a unique feature!

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

Finishing the dress at Sewing Club

Finishing the dress at Sewing Club

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

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

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x