Super proud to finally present ….. my Francine jacket (now I’ve just got to make the skirt)

Hi everyone,

I have had such a lovely half term pottering: reading (latest William Boyd); cooking (including homemade soups); eating out; visiting the cinema (Dad’s Army); marking (Years 9, 10, 11); knitting (scarf – still on-going); running (10K coming up next month) and sewing (ties x 2, sweatshirts x 2) BUT what I really want to share you today is my finally finished Sew Over It Francine Jacket of which I am super proud. Beware – this is a picture heavy post: we are talking about a jacket six months in the making!

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Way back in August I met up with some lovely ladies at the Fabric Godmother Open Day and bought this amazing wool suiting fabric for, I think, £15 a metre. I had it in mind to make a maxi skirt suit so that I could waft around at work looking like a suffragette.

Skirt in check; jacket in plain

Skirt in check; jacket in plain

I only bought 1.5 metres of the plain because I always find that I use less that the pattern indicates. Then I promptly started sewing other things – as you do. However, as soon as I saw the Francine Jacket I knew that was the one for me and enrolled on a course in September. If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I have done a number of courses at Sew Over It.  For nearly all of them I have had as my tutor Julie, who is wonderfully patient, highly skilled and determined that her tutees should learn true tailoring techniques. On the first night all I did was sort out the sizing, cut out my pattern and make some adjustments – most of which I subsequently altered back. My homework was to cut out at home  – this happened:

Oops

Oops

I decided I would have to cut a few pieces out of the skirt material – what a good idea this turned out to be as the contrast really works and it will certainly look much more like a suit rather than coordinated separates.

Francine jacket pieces cut from my Gabriola skirt fabric

Francine jacket pieces cut from my Gabriola skirt fabric

Progress continued at class during week two. We had made a number of alterations for my big shoulders and curved back but once I tried the jacket on it wasn’t right and I had to undo most of what I had done.

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Week three – our final class and it became clear early on I wasn’t going to get finished. In fact I hadn’t even got my lining in by the end of the evening. What I had done though is learn a really valuable technique whereby you fill the sleeve head with wadding before you insert the shoulder pad and it gives it a more smooth line.

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I was full of good intentions of finishing the jacket the following week but became ensconced in all manner of other things throughout November/December. During January I picked it up again. The impetus was that I was going to the Liberty exhibition and planned to call in on the button man in Soho for him to do my button holes for me. I am not going to lie – I really struggled to finish the jacket by myself. Whilst the instructions were good, I struggled to make out the tiny detail, particularly on the black and white photos. If the button man thought it odd to be presented with an unfinished garment to add the finishing touches to, he never gave any indication – just sent me off to Liberty and told me not to rush back!

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This is how the jacket looked when the buttonholes were being done

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I finally finished the jacket in February – to be honest, looking at the pics I think I should have taken more care over pressing it; the jacket has gotten so squashed on its various train journeys.

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So there you have it – now I just have to get on with the skirt but I suspect other projects will rush to the fore and it’ll be another six months. Would you like some detail shots? Of course you would if you have stuck around this far ..

Buttons courtesy of Cloth Kits, Chichester

Buttons courtesy of Cloth Kits, Chichester

very pleased with the neckline which actually sits flat

very pleased with the neckline which actually sits flat

The back - we added in, took out, re-drew the curve - I blame my posture

The back – we added in, took out, re-drew the curve – I blame my posture

lovely lining which came from Guthrie and Ghani

lovely lining which came from Guthrie and Ghani

The story of Francine is concluded – I hope you enjoyed it!

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Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

 

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Hello Heather

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while hasn’t it? My new job is keeping me busy – how lovely to be able to write that!

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As soon as Sew Over It announced a new class to make their Heather dress, I was on to it. Having repeatedly struggled to get a place on the Francine Jacket course I knew I had to be quick. So it had been booked for a couple of months and I had been really looking forward to it but the day before I had a bit of a wobble and almost didn’t go. How glad I am that I did. I had a fantastic day; met some lovely ladies (who all finished their frocks) ; ate cake; made a dress that fits me and is versatile and, thoroughly enjoyed being in the sewing zone again.

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The Heather dress is a knit dress with deep pockets that are sewn in the side seams and somehow fall from the Princess seams – I have probably described that incorrectly. Anyway, I have noticed how fellow seamstresses rave about pockets: me, not so much but I have to say that on this dress I do really like them.

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I had hoped the class would give me a bit of confidence in using my overlocker (I shamefacedly admit it has been in its bag for over a year – shocking behaviour). I envy those people who are constantly posting items that they have knocked up in an evening/afternoon – I think this could be such a dress. On the odd occasion I have sewn with knit fabric, I have used a walking foot and zigzag stitch on my normal Janome. I assumed we would make the whole dress on the overlocker but we didn’t. The tutor (lovely, calm Sue) told us to make it up on the sewing machines using stitch length 3 and we just finished the seams on the overlocker. I have to say it all went extremely smoothly.

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I cut a 12, made it up then took in the side seams about an inch each side from the top down to my waist.  I noticed in the photos there is a bit of pooling in the back so I will take a little bit off the back seam too next time. And there will be a next time! I didn’t alter the length which surprised me as I had to add a whopping 10cm to my vintage shirtdress and I am on 5ft 4.

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I was a bit confused at the pocket construction – I didn’t think this would ever end up looking like the sample.

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Some of the other students made a colour block dress and I have to say, I think that is the best plan for this pattern to show off the wonderful lines and emphasise the pockets. Although I am really pleased with mine, I do think that the detail is lost. The fabric? It is a lovely jersey which stretches in all ways (I know this because Sue tested it  to see as she said I need the stretchy way going around my body). I bought it in September from Sew Over It when I was there doing my Ultimate Shirt Class (still a wip I am ashamed to say). I thought it was amazing value at £12 as I had seen it a week previously in C & H fabrics for £21. I have loads left over so I think I will have a try at making either a Lark Tee or an Agnes top as everyone raves about them.

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It was a complete rarity for me to finish in a class but I did.  During the morning I chatted away to a lovely girl who was working opposite me but after lunch I was so focused on finishing, I just shut up and got on with it – much to her relief I suspect! I was first to finish and as I wanted to see everyone elses, I filled in the time hemming a fat quarter I had bought to make my son a handkerchief – he has become obsessed with them!

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Obviously I bought more fabric for myself – even though I’m trying not to. Both purchases were inspired by choices I had seen on my Instagram:  the wool check – Ozzyblackbeard; the bees – sorry I can’t remember on whose feed I saw this. Just like Lynne the wool is going to be a Tulip Skirt (I need to buy the pattern first though). The bees? I am currently thinking that a Scout tee would go nicely with white jeans.

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I love workshops. If you are debating about doing one, I would really encourage you. It is utterly uplifting to spend time with other people who love to sew and have someone there to help you with the tricky bits.

After taking these photos, I layered up even more and we went out for a Valentines brunch. The dress has so many lovely colours it is really versatile. I teamed it with teal and green. After eating we had a walk around town and I picked up a Benetton 100% wool cardi in a charity shop which actually goes really nicely with the dress and brings out the yellow – not a colour I often wear to be honest. Mr CK is trying to grow a beard – he feels it makes him look like George Clooney. That dear sewing friends is my closing comment today … there are no words!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Brunch at The Parsons Table, Arundel with George Clooney and, keeping it real with my charity shop bargain

Brunch at The Parsons Table, Arundel with George Clooney and, keeping it real with my charity shop bargain

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!

 

 

 

 

Sparkling all over

Hi guys,

I have had such a FAB few days on the sewing front I think I am going to spread the cheer over a couple of posts! First up my Sequins workshop at the wonderful Guthrie and Ghani studios

A super sparkly window display

A super sparkly window display

A friend and I had decided we would have a little day trip to Birmingham – I hadn’t realised quite how quickly you could get there from London or how cheaply you could buy train tickets. The premises are wonderful – a lovely detached property with the haberdashery downstairs and the studio covering the whole of the top floor – sorry SEWBRUM people – I know you know all this already.  We had arranged to arrive early to give us a little shopping time – of course we did!  Although I had already ordered my gold sequin fabric, once I was there I was drawn to a blue and pink geometric design so bought that (and some silver sequins as well just for good measure). I now have quite a lot of sequins in my stash so have the potential to sparkle quite a bit.

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The workshop was run by Layla – who was so approachable, knowledgeable and laid back; I felt in safe hands all day.  The pattern we used was Grainline Scout Tee – which was included in the cost of the workshop making it excellent value. Layla gave us some realy good advice linked to looking at the finished garment measurments as a way of determining our size.  My friend Liz was wearing one she had made earlier linked to her measurements and I did think it looked big.  In the end she went down a size and I sewed up a 4 – which is two sizes less than my measurements indicated but I thought they both looked just right.

The blue sequins were super pretty daisy shapes

The blue sequins were super pretty daisy shapes

In terms of sewing with sequins I was surprised at quite how straight-forward it was. New needles, sharp scissors and away you go – sew up almost as normal.  The only thing you had to take care to do was to finger press your seams and break the sequins before you ironed them. It is also essential to use a lining because the fabric is so scratchy against your skin – it was also a first for me to line a top. You need to be prepared for sequins to be everywhere. I noticed when we were leaving that there was a trail of my pink sequins running down the stairs to the loo!

The workshop lasted six hours and everyone finished comfortably and was delighted with their tops.  We also had time for lunch and went to a Syrian restaurant a couple of doors down for a lovely wrap and a piece of baklava. So all in all, a great day – really enjoyable. Huge thanks to Layla for being such inspiring tutor.

Tried to get a couple of photos yesterday but it was so cold and blowy. Mr CK was not happy and I was freezing so the two below are the best of a bad bunch – Yes, even with my eyes closed!

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Please ignore wellibobs which of course would never be worn with a sparkly top!

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It was also serendipitous that this is the first garment I have made since I received my own labels ….. from Liz – the friend I did the workshop with. Now my garments have the potential to look really professional I must ensure I take care over the details!

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Finally, I just wanted to share with you some really good news – which I received on the morning of my Birmingham jaunt. I shared recently that I have got a maternity leave cover to start in January; I now have been offered a permanent position (at a different school) from September. It is such a relief to have got everything sorted out so now I can just relax for the rest of 2015!

Have a good week,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

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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Fitting a dysfunctional pear

Hello all, hope you are enjoying our little bit of sunshine today in a week in which most of us in the UK must have thought that Autumn had most certainly arrived (sounds a bit like Caroline Ahern’s musings at the beginning of Gogglebox)!

At the beginning of the school holidays I had a week on a narrow boat on the Leeds Liverpool canal and without wifi, had to make the most of our stops.  Whilst loitering in Caffe Nero, Skipton I noticed on my IG feed that Sew Over It were having a summer sale on their workshops.  I booked one immediately and on the return journey a couple of days later, I bought another! I do love being taught how to do things properly and really want to get better so  consider these courses a good investment.  Each time I fully intend to immediately make up a second garment to consolidate my skills but to date that hasn’t happened with any of my SOI workshops.  I have booked the Ultimate Shirt and the Cigarette pants – both with my work wardrobe in mind. It also puts me in the happy position of having something to look forward to every week on a Wednesday for the first half term.

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The Clapham branch has recently been refurbished – there is now so much more fabric on offer.   There are six of us in the class; only one lady hasn’t done a workshop before. A very speedy seamstress who also did the coat workshop with me was there so it was nice to meet her again. And, if you have seen the hugely popular Francine Jacket (I have twice missed getting a place on a course) the daughter of “Francine” (whose original jacket was used to design the pattern) was there.

A few months ago I spotted some lovely Flamingo fabric on the SOI IG feed and immediately bought some. I was thinking about making an Anna dress maxi style but my plans were thwarted because the flamingos went across the fabric rather than down the length which I expected.

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This caused me to return the fabric to my stash but I thought that it would be lovely for my shirt. At the workshop it became apparent (when Julie pointed it out to me) that the fabric wasn’t really suitable because in order to cut the shirt out on the grainline, all the flamingos would be laying on the backs waving their legs in the air.  Anyway, I decided to carry on regardless (this is why I frequently have disasters).  I had taken another fabric with me but this is for my grand winter outfit (maxi skirt suit) and Julie concurred that I might as well make my first one with the flamingos and make all the necessary improvements for the second.

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I have been getting a bit more confident with my own sewing recently and turned a corner in that I am now trying to get things to fit.   Something that has emerged is that although I always have to grade between bust and hip sizes due to my pearfulness I am still finding the top half is tight on the arms etc. It has gradually dawned on me that I have big shoulders and need to account for them. When I was being fitted (using Lisa’s own shirt as a toile!) the measurements indicated that as per usual I would do 10 bust 12 hips but then I asked Julie about my shoulders.  She agreed they were promininet and remembered that when I made my coat, after all the faff of putting the shoulder pads in, we had to take them out again. Anyway, she measured me, the pattern and the the size 10 toile, worked out how much had to be added and copied it onto the pattern. Dear reader, guess what size my shoulders were? 20! I really don’t think they do look that disproportionate but their prominence became really clear when we were completely the vintage shirt dress class in June.  Before we put the sleeves in, the shoulder seams covered the shoulders of the other girls but mine were significantly visible.  I’m not sure if this ramble will make any sense without specific photos. Anyway, to abate my wailing/disbelief we finally cut between size 16 and 18 on the shoulders and will do final alterations after pining.

All I achieved in the class this week (there was a lot of chatting going on between me and the newbie workshop lady) was to cut out my fabric on the crossgrain.  This meant I had a lot of homework to do but I have been a little miss goody two shoes.  Not only have I done my homework but I have cut out another shirt so I shall be consolidating my skills as we go.

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Finally, I popped into C and H Chichester yesterday to buy some buttons – got some glorious, glittery ones – and was rather surprised (disappointed) by their window display. That little card at the bottom says “Make it for Christmas”.

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Really looking forward to next Wednesday’s class. Have a good week all.

Toodle pip.

Clarinda x

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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Magic Mortmain – Mark 2

Hello all on this lovely sunny Sunday,

Guess what? I’ve been having another one of my little ponders and have realised that the garments I make multiple versions of are the ones where I have had success e.g. Sorbetto and Kim.  However, the trickier ones where I have been to a workshop and KNOW that I should make another as soon as possible after to consolidate just doesn’t happen despite my good intentions.  And so is true of Gatherkits Glorious Mortmain which fitted so well I previously thought it must be magic.

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I made my first Mortmain at a workshop run by Handmade Jane at Badger and Earl.  I was delighted with the result (notwithstanding that in my haste to finish I managed to insert the armhole facings back to front/upsidedown). You can read about that workshop here.  As I said, full of good intentions I bought a further large exposed zip from Badger and Earl whilst I was there. I had a rootle through my little stash and came across the fabric I had bought when I first got my sewing machine so at that point it was a year old and I guess my first ever “stash”.  I bought it from Clothkits. It is covered in large daisies but the centre is actually a rose.  I’ve included a close up here so that you can see the fabric as it is not really so clear on the photos.

You will see I took no chances this time with the pesky armhole facings

You will see I took no chances this time with the pesky armhole facings

I cut the dress out straight away and there it has sat – since March – on the corner of my sewing table.  I think I shied away from it for so long because I was worried about the exposed zip – and the box pleats for that matter without Jane to hold my hand. I kept putting other projects on top. A week ago I cut out an Anna (another previous success) in a lovely Liberty poplin …

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… and just as I was about to start working on it, I heard a little voice in the corner say “What about me? You were excited about making me once. What went wrong?”  Well … I thought it was a good point, well made so I put my Anna (and an Edith I got out of the scraps) in the corner spot instead, picked up poor, abandoned Mortmain and just got on with it. By the way, does anyone else think of Brideshead Revisited every time they read Mortmain because they link it with Marchmain? Remember Laurence Olivier as Lord Marchmain swanning around Castle Howard (Brideshead).

For me, one of the most amazing British dramas on television

For me, one of the most amazing British dramas on television

I am so pleased that I did.  It really is a lovely pattern.  Everything is so carefully explained with diagrams and then close-ups of the diagrams.

image It turned out to be a straight forward sew – armhole facings in correctly; exposed zip – almost perfect.

imageYou can see here the box pleats and the close fitting bodice. I do still need to get a decent camera instead of my ipad so that I can improve my blog photos. I haven’t actually got a specific event to wear this frock for – I always like to have something special for a first public outing. Feel free to invite me to anything Mortmain Appropriate!

Which reminds me. Thank you for all your kind comments on my blogiversary which I celebrated in my last post.  I really do appreciate the lift that our supportive sewing community gives. My lovely friend and neighbour Ali popped round unexpectedly with a little gift: a metre or so of a navy blue wool with a pin stripe in a brighter blue and a vintage pattern of a skirt which I had admired on her, for me to trace. This will probably be my first make of the Autumn sewing phase but I am not there yet – too many summer plans still to get through!

What will be my first vintage pattern make

What will be my first vintage pattern make

I was hoping to give my blog heading a facelift but so far have only managed to get my sewing machine serviced. You may remember some moans about that fact that my machine has never been able to do button holes? Well, now it does and it won’t surprise you to read that, apparently, it has always been able to do button holes if only I had set the dials appropriately!

Lots to look forward to next week: Open Day at Fabric Godmother; working on my project for The Monthly Stitch Two is the Magic Number Challenge and … A level results.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Just one last peep at the exposed zip - I am in love with it

Just one last peep at the exposed zip – I am in love with it

 

 

 

 

Vintage Shirtdress Workshop – week one

Hello all, I hope you’re having a good week?

Yesterday I went to the first of three workshops at Sew Over It to make their Vintage Shirtdress. It’s my fourth workshop there and I really can’t recommend them enough. My favourite make EVER is the 1960s coat I made – blogged here.  The studio is gorgeous – tea and (homemade) cake permanently available and best of all, a brilliant teacher to take you through the pattern and help with all the fiddly bits.

Took both fabrics to the workshop but eventually decided on the charcoal one - a Liberty Tana Lawn called Winter Dreams of Spring

Took both fabrics to the workshop but eventually decided on the charcoal one – a Liberty Tana Lawn called Winter Dreams of Spring

I was really pleased that the teacher was Julie who is super patient and highly experienced.  There were six of us.  A lovely generational divide: three young women in their twenties and another three who I would estimate were at least twenty years older (I hope I haven’t offended anyone by writing that!).  That is one of the lovely things about sewing – it unites people who might otherwise not appear to have much in common.  There was a little bit of chatter but everyone was really busy measuring and cutting out – we didn’t actually get to do any sewing at all.

Only roughly laid out here to check I had enough fabric.

Only roughly laid out here to check I had enough fabric.

It does seem that most patterns over-estimate fabric requirements.  I had bought three metres and was worried that I would have to eek it out but I had a considerable chunk left over.  I wonder if you can guess what I plan to make with that?! Sew Over It have toiles made up in all sizes so that you can check your fit first.  The last few things I have made at home have been too big – I do always measure myself but perhaps I just don’t hold the tape measure tightly enough?  Anyway, I decided to try on the 10 toile instead of my usual 12 and that was to big so I ended up with the 8 …. which I am surprised about because I am definitely not an 8!

It is going to be an expensive couple of weeks – I am incapable of going into a fabric shop without buying something and last night was no different.

Cornflower blue linen and my very own ham!

Cornflower blue linen and my very own ham!

I was really excited to see that Sew Over It have expanded their fabric range and put more shelves in to accommodate the additional choice.  This weekend just gone I made a dress (yet to be blogged) which I was really disappointed with. However, I resolved to call it a wearable muslin and have another go.  I have a little bit of blue Queue for the Zoo Liberty leftover from  my Belcarra (blogged here) so I thought I would use that for the yoke and make the dress with this contrasting linen. What do you think old hands – will a bodice of tana lawn (one thickness – it has interfacing rather than being fully lined) hold up a dress of linen?

I bought my goodies before the class but then at the end Julie gave us our homework and to be honest, I am not sure I will get anything else done.  I jotted down what I thought were the couple of tasks on the top of my instruction sheet but the list just kept on growing!

My homework

My homework

I said to Julie, “I’ll be bringing in a complete dress next week at this rate” and she replied that it was just basic sewing and then we could concentrate on the fiddly bits such as fitting and doing the collar: good point, well made!

I’ll let you know how the homework goes – as a teacher myself I am very diligent about such things!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

Magnificent Mortmain

Well hello there, I have broken up for Easter today and I can’t tell you how happy I am about that.

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Look … I made something which actually fits me and doesn’t have too many boo boos – thanks to the girls at Gather for their amazing pattern and to Handmade Jane who led the workshop at Badger and Earl where I made this dress over two consecutive Sundays.  For ten hours in total we worked on our frocks and not one of us managed to completely finish so our fashion parade at the end was somewhat hurried.  Had we been on the Great British Sewing Bee we would probably have had ninety minutes and had to throw in a bolero jacket as well!

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I had a specific event in mind for this dress which influenced my fabric choice – a gorgeous ….. actually, I’ve no idea what it is!  A cotton sateen maybe? There was a bit of stretch which I hadn’t realised initially and the white background is embossed; the lilac/purple splodges look like watercolours. My school colours are lilac/purple and this year a new event was introduced: The Lilac Dinner.  The idea was to have an evening where the students, parents and teachers all have supper together just before the students go off to take their GCSEs. I do like to throw myself into things so decided I was going to make a lilac dress – of course I was!  I originally bought a purple gingham but when I was at Sew Over It making my coat the fabric kept calling my name and whispering “Lilac Dinner, Lilac Dinner”.

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I LOVED the workshop.  There were four of us and we all had gone for floral prints. The dress was a great fit on all of us without any real alterations – it seemed to be a magic pattern. Everything seemed to fit together perfectly. The only really tricky thing was the exposed zip – I thought invisible zips were supposed to be hard but they are a doddle compared to the exposed zip.  Thank goodness Jane was there to expertly guide us through every step of the way.

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Here is the back view – I have to admit I was a little sceptical of the exposed zip but it does make a statement and a lot of the girls had similar zips in their outfits so it must be very “in”!

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It was really great to meet Jane – she was very perceptive at gauging exactly where we were at any one point and who was fine and who needed help.  The only thing I messed up, and I am so cross with myself about this, was that I managed to put my armhole facings in upside down.  Jane was so kind in offering to re-set them for me as she knew I needed the dress for Thursday but I just pressed the life out of them and they stayed in place.

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And obviously we have to mention the shoes!  Aren’t they gorgeous?  I saw them on Dolly Clackett’s blog and knew they would go perfectly with my dress so I literally ordered them just before the workshop on Sunday; they arrived from Sweden yesterday at 1pm – cutting in fine!  I find I am being influenced more and more my reading sewing blogs – it’s the second time I’ve “borrowed” style from Dolly and have also blatantly copied Justsewtherapeutic. Is that wrong – I’m not sure? Do you say copy or inspired by?

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Anyway, I have had a hideous half term and I am really pleased to have broken up today.  I was thinking about going away but actually I just want to rest at home, read and sew so hopefully I will have a few things to show you over the next couple of weeks.  I will definitely make the Mortmain again (arm facings the right way up) and have already bought the zip.

Hope you have lovely things planned for Easter,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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