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

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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