Clara Rackham Banner Square

Sew-in-Company’s contribution to a ‘100 Years of Women’s Suffrage’ celebratory banner is a square based on the cover of a book by Clara Rackham (1875-1966).

Clara was an astonishing suffragist, local councillor, magistrate, factory inspector, suffragist, educationalist and prison reformer in the early 20th Century.  Her civic legacies are numerous around Cambridge (even the swimming pool by Parker’s Piece was one of her achievements); she was also one of the dignitaries present at the opening ceremony for Rock Road Library in 1936 – one of the Rock Road Library’s first ‘Friends‘!


October Activities

A month of minor projects:

  • binding the frayed edge of a much-loved cashmere coat with fine leather (a nightmare to source from Canada incurring tariffs and PO handling fees);
  • a half-term sew day in two parts, in the morning, a knitting class and progress on Sebastian’s quilt – the afternoon mainly planning projects – a padded toy bag and a blouse made from a car-boot-sourced white cotton sheet;

    Knitting lesson

  • creating spooky, silver-starred Halloween aprons with pockets to distribute treats + updating the fabric bags for a ‘feel what’s in the bag’ challenge for FRRL;
  • turning a pair of trousers (originally cropped c. 1997 for a Morley School, Kentwell day) into Victorian breaches (by adding black velvet bands) and covering the football image on a cap to create a John Kemp Starley costume for another Morley history day.

    John Kemp Starley, Inventor of the modern bicycle

    ….. and a pair of funky culottes!

The combination of navy and black and shiny pocket edging was necessitated by shortage of fabric – the elasticated back of the grey stripy version of the pattern was replaced by darts to avoid the potato sack look.

Butterfly Wings

A talented friend occasionally performs as a caterpillar to entertain children.

Of course, the piece concludes with a transformation into a butterfly – but the wings provided with her costume were a little underwhelming.

Sew-in-Company was keen to tackle the challenge using scraps of old lining fabric and silk.

….  and made a bag to discretely transport it to performances (Sid is not impressed).

Quiet Time

May and June have been fallow months for creating – too much gallivanting and way too hot in the sewing room!

Despite the heat, the DofE student has made progress with her project, wedding suits have been altered, darts added to a linen dress, curtains made and shortened (my least favourite tasks) and a stunning wedding gown adjusted – providing three different fabrics to create a plaited headband.

The fabric cut from the curtains will be used for a quilt – the hunt is on for complementary scraps!

Mothering Sunday Weekend Friday 2 – Curtains

On Friday, a project which has taken over three months to plan and execute was collected.  The challenge was to convert a set of ‘pre-loved’ curtains for use elsewhere in a seaside holiday home where the ‘vintage’ brown print curtains were in need of replacement. The recycled curtains, a good quality plain textured weave, were too short and there was not quite enough fabric to cover the expanse of windows in the new location.

Sid carrying out an inspection of the fabric:

The solution was to create two sets of curtains by adding blocks in complementary shades of ocean blue – representing the ocean horizon beyond.

Original heading tape and linings were retained and matched.

The result is very pleasing – 10 curtains matching top and bottom!

The fabric remnants were used to make half-a-dozen unique cushions.

Design and calculations


Bridesmaid Dresses – Alterations

I am often asked to help adjust ‘off-the-peg’ bridesmaid dresses, not my favourite task (it’s much more satisfying to start from scratch) but I am willing to oblige!

The pale green dress was taken in, an additional lining was inserted, a sash created and the strap adjusted.

Waist Definition Required

Waist Definition Required




Much better fit!

Much better fit!

The royal purple dress (on the right) was shortened and the straps were adjusted to address an ‘underarm’ gape.

Right-hand Bridesmaid, Dress Alteration

Right-hand Bridesmaid, Dress Alteration

Photo courtesy of Mister Phill 

Pat’s Wedding Ensemble

Great Grandmother Pat is a popular wedding guest and wanted something special made from a remnant of synthetic fabric bought in the 1960s from Gordon Thoday’s – Cambridge’s most popular, much missed fabric emporium.  The bluey-green print with ochre overtones was not the easiest colour to match – but the blue silk is complementary.

The outfit has now enjoyed three weddings and is hoping for more!

Wedding Party

Yorkshire Wedding, July 2016

Cambridge, July 2013

Cambridge, July 2013