Sew Dolly Clackett …

Yesterday I decided, pretty much on a whim, as you do, to sew a Dolly Clackett dress.  

Followers of Roisin Muldoon’s glorious frock blog will know that she is getting married soon (to a very handsome and smart young man) and to celebrate there’s this bloggy Clackettesque frockalong thing happening.

Obviously I won’t have it finished in time, the closing date is Wednesday, but I needed something to boot me out of the sewing Doldrums,   Also, I will have to modify the style somewhat – I’m a bit too old to rock a full on Dolly Clackett frock!

So I settled on this; Kwik Sew 4001, view B (the one with sleeves).

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Now, this is something of a departure from my usual style, but I have a celebration lunch function to attend in July.  Hopefully this will be the perfect dress for the occasion.  The fabric is cotton, with tiny strawberries amongst a navy blue check on white background.    I like to think Dolly might wear it to Wimbledon …

It’s quite narrow fabric, so I think it may be quite old stuff, I bought 4 metres of it from a remainders store last year.  The pattern has a lined bodice, which I’ve never done before, and a reasonably full skirt. 

This afternoon I pre-washed and ironed the fabric, and traced off the pattern.  Unfortunately It’s back to work tomorrow, so I won’t be able to do any more until Friday now.  Ho hum.  Hopefully it will be finished in time for the actual wedding, which I believe is to be in May.

Whatever, I would like to wish Roisin and Nic every happiness.  I do love a good wedding!

Check out the Flickr group of finished Dolly Clackett Frocks.


Is anyone still reading?

Hello friends,  I’m sorry I have been missing for a while.  I went off on a lovely holiday, and since I returned I haven’t been in my sewing room – apart from to hide newly acquired fabrics and patterns in my already overflowing stash.

Sewing Mojo has been in very short supply.  I have a biiiiig pile of mending/alterations to do, which isn’t appealing to me at all.  Instead, I’ve been overtaken by a new pre-occupation …..

A year or two ago, around the time I became interested in sewing again, I bought this dear old lady.  (Ahem. Those with obssessive compulsive tendencies towards housework should probably look away now).

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She graces my entrance hall, usually shouldering a pile of ‘stuff’ that doesn’t really have a home.  She’s just handy to put things down on.

On the inside, this is what she looks like.  A 1916 Singer 66K, dressed in the *Lotus pattern decals unique to Scotland, and made in Kilbowie, Clydebank, at the world’s largest sewing machine factory (now a housing estate).   *In the USA this model came with the Redeye decals, both types are now highly sought after by collectors.

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Faded glamour, I think you’ll agree. Initially she was just intended to be a hall table.  Then she was to become a restoration project.  Unfortunately, I rescued her from an abusive home, and she is badly damaged.  Rust and tarnish abound, but happily most necessary parts are present, and those that aren’t can be found..

After a half hearted attempt, I sadly decided she was beyond redemption, and she would just have to live out her retirement as a hall table, albeit a rather lovely one.  Then I hit on an idea.  *Lightbulb moment*

Why not buy another one, and just swap the machine heads over?  Well, yeah.  Why not?  No-one need ever know …

And so began an avid ebay search.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, when I set off to Runcorn to collect this rather beautiful 1920 Singer 66k hand-crank version.

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Now, you don’t have to be Einstein to see that this one is in near mint condition.  Oh my word!  The delightful lady who sold her to me told me that this was her nan’s machine, bought and kept in the same family from new, through 3 generations.

And she came with accessories – a whole set of original presser feet, and her original bentwood carry case.  Wow!

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My original plan was to cannibalise this machine, harvesting the lovely shiny parts to restore my treadle version.  Obviously, that would be sacrilege, and probably an offence punishable by a gruesome death.

So, armed with valuable info on how to, I’m back to my original plan of restoration of the treadle model.  It’s going to be a project for later this year, when, (woohoo!) I’ll be retiring from paid employment and becoming a lady of leisure.

Now my interest in Vintage machines has been piqued, I’m hankering after a 201K, reputedly the best sewing machine ever built by Singer.  The search goes on.

More soon, and I hope this finds you all well and happy.


I’d like to thank my agent …

Well, Wowee!  What a shock.  I’ve only been nominated for a Liebster Blog Award by the delightful Melanie at Seeds of 3!

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This is a scheme to encourage people to find new blogs to read, which might otherwise be overlooked.

Now, I’ve never met Melanie in real life, but I regard her as a friend and I just know that I would love her if we did meet, and I think you would too.  She is a very smart lady; creative,  funny, supportive of others, and she sews some amazing stuff.  Do go and check her out.

Apparently, I have to answer the 11 questions she has posed to her nominees, and then nominate 11 more bloggers I love to read, but they need to have less than 500 followers.  Crumbs.  11 more bloggers, that’s like loads.  Well I can think of a few, so we’ll see how that works out shortly.

Hmm, but how would I know how many followers someone else may have?  I dunno.  So if I nominate you, please don’t be offended if you have a million followers, because seriously, how would I know?

Anyway, getting this nomination myself is somewhat embarrassing, as you may (or may not, because I certainly don’t have followers in 3 figures) have noticed that there ain’t much sewin goin on around here.  I’m sorry about that, really, I am.  And I’ll get back on track this weekend, I promise.  It’s just that I have a pile of (boring) mending and alterations to do, and that’s not very inspiring.  And I’ve now lost 10kg since new year, so the things I sewed recently don’t fit any more, and I’m reluctant to waste any of my lovely stash on things that might not fit me for long.  Excuses, excuses, I know.

Ok, without further ado, here are the 11 questions Melanie asked of her nominees, along with my answers.

1. What was the first thing you’ve ever sewn?

The first actual wearable garment I sewed was in 1980.  It was a gathered skirt, with a zip and a proper waistband, cream with sprigs of  pink flowers.   I had no experience whatsoever, and I just followed the instructions in the pattern.  This is the same approach I took to learning to cook; I found a recipe I liked the sound of, and I followed the instructions.  How hard could it be?!

2. Did you wear it? Why or why not?

The fabric was upholstery fabric, and I mistakenly made it with the ‘wrong’ side of the fabric facing outwards, but I loved it and wore it for years.   It seemed to go with everything!

3. Do you believe in fate?

No.  I believe in making choices and in taking responsibility for the consequences.

4. What is your earliest memory?

My earliest memory is of almost drowning in a pond when I was about a year old.  It was a rare scorching hot day.  I was still in a nappy and plastic pants and had been stripped off to play in the sunshine in my nappy.  I saw older kids swimming in the pond and thought  ‘oooh, I fancy a bit of that!’  before wading in, unnoticed by my parents who were busy talking.  Needless to say, the plastic pants filled up with water, I couldn’t swim,  and I was quickly dragged under to what may well have been a premature and watery grave.  I have a clear vision of pond weed closing over my head before I was fished out by a big girl called Pamela, and unceremoniously dumped on the edge of the pond – whereupon I got a good hiding from my mother!

5. If you drink, what is your favorite cocktail (recipe please!)

I don’t drink a lot, and when I do it’s usually red wine (of which I am a connoiseur!).  I do very occasionally enjoy a Mojito, but really cocktails are generally too sweet for my taste.

6. What kinds of books do you like to read?

I love to read, but usually I only find time to do it on holiday.  I like contemporary fiction, and I love a really big story.  I’m currently reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  The invention of the Kindle and the iPad have revolutionised my holiday reading!  I can easily devour a book a day whilst on holiday, and these cunning devices mean I can carry dozens of books and have room in my case for clothes and souvenirs!

7. When was the last time you were sick with something other than a common cold? What was it?

I’m hardly ever ill.  I had measles at age 6, chickenpox at age 20, and apart from that I’ve never had anything more serious than a common cold.

8. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

In my private life I am quiet and don’t seek to be the centre of attention.  However, in my professional guise, I am confident and outspoken.  I have a reputation for speaking my mind, and sometimes it gets me into trouble!  I have a small talent for mimicry, and people seem to find me funny (amusing, as opposed to peculiar).

9. What sewing tip have you learned that blew your mind?

 The Colette video on ‘how to insert an invisible zipper’ was a complete revelation to me!  Perfection achieved each and every time since I watched that!  (I’m still on the hunt for great sewing tips, so please feel free to tell me yours).

10. What is your dream sewing machine if money was no object?

I would love to have a top of the range Bernina, with all the whistles and bells.  I also like the look of the Juki Exceed F600. I hope one of these two machines will be mine within the next 12 months!

11. Do you prefer hot or cold climates? Why?

I love to travel and I have enjoyed trips to equatorial climates as well as winter trips high inside the arctic circle and to the very Southern tip of New Zealand.  I love scenery and enjoy the changes of the seasons.  I would hate to live somewhere that didn’t have distinct seasons.

The next thing I have to do is to nominate some more bloggers to join in this fun.  There are so many I could choose, but to keep things simple I’m just going to go for five blogs which I love to read, and whose author’s lovely creations are a constant source of inspiration and ideas, and whose sense of humour cracks me up.  Ladies, your successes make me jump for joy, and your wadders help me keep my feet on the ground.  I love to see what you’re making, whether it’s sewing,  knitting or some other creativity.  Keep it coming.

Chris Lucas

Béa’s Sewing Adventures

Helen of Cut it Out, Stitch It Up

BeaJay of On The Road To Sew Wear

Evie of Pendle Stitches

And here are just 5 easy questions for you to answer:

Q1 How and when did you discover your love for sewing?

Q2 Which 5 sewing patterns would you take to your Desert island, to sew and wear forever more – or at least until you were rescued?

Q3 Do you enjoy sewing for others, and if so for whom?

Q4 Describe yourself to a stranger in 5 words.

Q5 What was your biggest sewing success, and also your biggest sewing failure?

Thanks for playing, and I look forward to enjoying your blogs for many years to come!


I’m in a New York state of mind …

I’m back.  And I haz fabricz!  Just looky where I’ve been …

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For 10 days I basked in 30 degrees of sunshine, gazing upon turquoise Caribbean seas, sipping Pina Colada and pondering on the meaning of life.  Then, on my way back home, I went to New York.  Minus 10 degrees (Celsius), and snowing.  What’s a girl to do?  Fortunately our hotel was conveniently situated, practically in the garment district, and only a step or two away from The World’s Largest Department Store.  Woohoo!

Now, I know I swore not to buy any RTW this year and, honestly, I wasn’t going to.  But when I entered TWLDS to buy an emergency sweater (because I was freeeeeezing) I found they also stock my favourite brand of jeans.  Not Your Daughter’s Jeans.  And they’re half the price they are in the UK.  And I’ve lost weight.  So I bought two pairs.  In a size smaller than the ones I was wearing.  Yeehaw!

Anyhow.  On my last day, practically on my way to the airport, I found time, in between stuffing as much Junior’s cheesecake into my piehole as humanly possible, to visit the Hallowed Hall that is Mood Designer Fabrics.  I made two fatal errors here.  The first was waiting until there was pressure of time.  The second, entering said Hallowed Hall without a plan.  Next time, I will not be so stupid.  And yes, there will be a next time.

Picture me, standing, agape, aghast, agog.  I was completely overwhelmed by the size of the place, and the myriad of choice.  I was a dribbling, trembling fool.  I bought only two pieces of fabric, both of which I am delighted with, but I could kick myself hard for not getting more.

Item One:  Pretty white eyelet cotton – in the UK we refer to this as Broderie Anglaise – it’s going to be a summer blouse, most probably using the pattern I kept from my pick of the Plus Size Pattern Pyramid.  I bought 3 yards.

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Item Two:  Navy & cream striped Ponte knit.  A really nice weight.  The wrong side has interesting stripes too, just visible in the bottom left hand corner of the photo.  I think this will become a tunic type top or short dress for wearing with leggings and boots.  possibly Colette Laurel.  Again, I bought 3 yards.

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So that’s what I’ve been up to.  I also have a couple of things to alter for my husband.  There are jeans to shorten for him, and the gorgeous batik shirt he loved in St Kitts was only available in XXL, and he’s a L.  Buy it, I said, I can make it smaller.  Me and my big mouth.

Sewing will resume next weekend. 


Interlude …

Sorry it’s gone a bit quiet.

I’m off in search of some sunshine to recharge the batteries.  Back soon.


Style Arc Linda: Flat Butt Adjustment – success!

Advisory note:  More close ups of my backside.  Those of a sensitive nature should go and read something else.

You’ll remember that I made these trousers a couple of weeks ago, and the fit was lousy.  So I looked online for the likely adjustment needed and discovered that my sagging seat is now so low slung, it’s gone all flat and droopy and needs a Flat Butt Adjustment.

So I altered my pattern piece (as posted previously) for the FBA.  I also lengthened the torso by a couple of inches, shaved some off the hip curve to take some excess fabric away from the seat, and used the optional 2″ elastic in the waistband this time.  I just had enough fabric left to make a pair of cropped ones.   Here are the results.

Before:

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After:

Woohoo!  Result.

Sorry the lighting is not identical but I hope you can see it has made a huge difference to the fit.  I feel all smug.


The House of Idiot …

Years ago, comediennes French & Saunders did an hilarious spoof of an historical drama series called The House of Elliot.  The original programme was about a couple of posh Edwardian birds and their Fashion House.  French & Saunders version, called The House of Idiot, was rib ticklingly funny, with wobbly sets, lousy continuity and inane dialogue – in the style of Acorn Antiques, with frocks.  You can still find it on You Tube, if you look.

So, today, I finished the 3rd version of the my TNT Cake Patterns Hummingbird skirt.  I have two grey ones, in denim and needlecord, and wear them constantly, but I’m losing weight and they’ve become too big.  I thought it was the ideal time to make a new one, in a different colour.  I had this delicious dark blue stretch denim, with a golden shimmer woven into it, and a pretty floral FQ – I showed you them last week, remember?  They have been transformed, my dears, into this

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A lovely, well fitting, Hummingbird skirt.  It doesn’t look great on Brunnhilde, of course, because I am now slimmer than she – ha!  I need to twiddle her dials a bit and sort her out.  (I’ve lost 3″ from my chest, 2″ from my waist, and 3″ from my hips since new year, and blimmin’ hard work it’s been too).  Anyway, on me, which is where it counts, this skirt is a jolly good fit and I’m delighted with it.

The pocket bags are really pretty, but of course no-one will see them.  I know they’re there though.

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Construction wasn’t without incident.  I’m such a dimwit sometimes. ( I think lack of carbs has softened my brain).  I decided to lengthen the skirt by a few inches, but somewhere along the line I must have been distracted (by thoughts of food, probably) and it turns out I only lengthened the front pattern pieces.  Unfortunately, I discovered this today, when it came to stitching front & back together down the sides:  Eeek! The back is 3 inches shorter than the front, how can this be??  I was still desperately keen to have this version longer, so I sewed a strip of spare fabric onto the back – I didn’t have enough left to recut the whole of the back pieces.  I top stitched it to make a feature of it – kidding myself that nobody needs ever know it isn’t a style feature.

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Even so, I didn’t leave myself enough to make a decent size of hem, so I just turned up a scant inch and hid the raw edge under some cherry coloured lace.  I think it looks rather nice.

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I put an appliqued exposed jeans zip on the back for a bit of edgy-ness with which to impress the young people at work, but I made a bit of a mess of it and the top doesn’t line up as well as I’d like.

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So, all in all, a collection of bloopers that nicely qualifies it for one of my lovely new labels:

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