Leaving on a jet plane…


More birds! Imogen loves birds…

If you’re anything like me, nothing says going on your hols like last minute sewing plans, especially the wildly unrealistic kind. Three tops and a shirt-dress in a week, no problem. Trousers hemmed, shirt started (and finished) by Saturday, I’m on it….and really, why can’t I make my own swimsuit in an evening?

In my imagination I get on flights dressed in linen & silk,  looking cool & effortless, with just my carry on bag , sunglasses & and a knowing smile to see me on my adventures. Naturally the reality is actually me in active wear pants & sneakers struggling with a ludicrous amount of luggage which I heave onto the baggage counter with a grimace , in an unseemly rush to get to the lounge & chugg down a nerve soothing Chardonnay. Oh well. 

Yes, that is a prison wall behind me…

So it was probably no surprise to find me rushing to finish my second Imogen top the day we flew out from Auckland to the UK. In between packing, buying cat food, finding my passport and all the other things sensible people do in the days & weeks before they actually fly ( *cough cough* it’s only 23 odd hours flying time, so not like long haul or anything right…..?)

At least I feel rather fabulous and holiday ready in this wee number. Its made up in a light cotton lawn from Monaluna from Miss Maude Sewing, light & breezy, perfect for a summer holiday (it’s pouring with rain as we speak….but it also looks lovely with a cardi over ok)

I was particularly brave taking this wee top on my adventures, as the first week of my hols was to be spent with the lovely Jules at Sew Me Something in Stratford-upon-Avon (yes, this is one of her patterns.) I was attending the Pattern Cutting Summer School, which I can HIGHLY recommend , what a confidence builder!

Team Pattern Cutting, that’s Jules our tutor/sewing guru in the fab teal flamingos

As you can see from the pic, we are a diverse group size wise, and it was completely irrelevant for the purposes of the workshop. After a very through measuring session done in pairs (all clothed), we set to work on our own individual block (sloper), either a fitted bodice, or a looser version. I went looser as that’s generally the shape I prefer to wear, but the choice is yours.

Tea & homemade lemon drizzle cake to keep us fortified!

Working at your own pace , the goal is to make a finished bodice & sleeve block to your own measurements, which is then traced onto calico , sewn up & tried on for size. Jules gets out her magic pins & shows you where adjustments are required. I have narrow shoulders & wider hips with large biceps so we took a good amount off around the shoulder , added width around the hips & cut & spread (which I’ve never been able to do successfully) around the upper arm.

These adjustments are then transferred to your basic block, a new tracing is made which is cut out & sewn up for fitting. Amazingly my sleeve fit a treat first time. So I now have a perfectly fitting bodice, which I can create all sorts of variations with.

Hard at work, plenty of light, bright workspace to spread out!

Our next challenge was to create an actual garment with our block, exciting! I choose a simple A line style shape with a stand up collar, elbow sleeves with a frill detail and an inverted back pleat for a bit of “walking away” drama (I do love a bit of drama.)

The front of my calico dress, I’m so in love with that collar…

Everyone did something different which was interesting, from Karen’s amazing 50’s style shirtwaister, to Mary’s gorgeous princess seamed dress with TEN tuckpleats ( I can neither confirm nor deny she may have doubted the wisdom of that decision at one or two points during the day…) . Carole did a beautifully elegant fitted shift dress (both Karen & Carole did the fitted block). Marion made a gorgeous princess seamed bodice with the cutest swing skirt, while Penny was working on a COAT no less! As you can see, plenty of creative choice.

The back, which I envisage in a drapy crepe fabric…

I managed to finish my dress calico by the end of day three, so on day four I worked on a pants block, which I have finished and ready to make up on my return to NZ, will make the end of the hols slightly less depressing, knowing I have so many new projects to work on. Especially since I have actually brought the teal crepe to make my beautiful frock in!

Doesn’t that look inviting?

Have you ever considered a sewing workshop? Some things do go through your mind, “will I keep up”, “will everyone be a much better sewer than me” etc, but to be honest it made zero difference (Most of the ladies in that room would blow me out of the water for sewing skills!), you just work at your own pace, and actually learn so much just from watching others be fitted, and sharing tips and tricks (or even the odd “high waisted flood pants” look)  which gives you a giggle and keeps it real (I’m looking at you Mary!) So if you are thinking about one, I’d say go for it!

After a fab week in Stratford upon Avon (despite Mr D’s bag being lost somewhere between the UK and LA, nice work Virgin Atlantic…), we have had a few relaxing days in Oxford, staying at a hotel that was formally a prison, interesting!

I’m innocent , I swear it Guv!

Lovers of UK detective series may recognize this from an episode of Lewis. Naturally we also went to the Turf Tavern and tipped our hats to Inspector Morse. Sadly Colin Dexter, the author of the wonderful Morse series passed away earlier this year, I hope him & John Thaw are enjoying a real beer together.

Oxford at night, bewitching…

We are now off to the Cotswolds for a few sdays with friends, to stay by the water, then on to the beautiful city of Bath, where I will no doubt find a few treaures to share…

Kristina xxx