I have a very distinct memory of when I was living in Bristol as a child of taking the Badgerline bus down to Bath with my mum where we’d pop into the Clothkids shop (I really hope I’m remembering this correctly!). Clothkits, to those who don’t know are a company that started in the sixties who had a great idea to make home sewing easier. They created gorgeous children’s clothes but the pattern is printed onto the fabric, so all you have to do is cut the pieces out and sew them together. I don’t remember a huge amount of the clothes made from there, but I do remember the gorgeous quilted coats my sisters had that had a farm scene printed on them and came with little animals to sew together that lived in the pockets. They were awesome. The company disappeared into obscurity as I grew up, but I learnt a few years ago that the company had been reborn into a small Chichester business, creating new designs for children and now adult clothes too. Clothkits are now based in a lovely looking shop that also hosts sewing classes and sells fabric, but the core of the business is still the same as the old – to create home sewn lovely clothes.
Last year I ordered a Jane Foster designed dress for Betsy, but then my old sewing machine promptly broke down and the kit gathered dust.
But now I have a shiny new machine. It’s a Janome DC3050 and it took a lot of Christmas and birthday John Lewis vouchers to save up for, but it’s so beautiful! It’s awesome and perfect for everything I want to do with it (and what Dave wants to do with it too – he wants to make some historical military costumes) and the Clothkits dress seems like the perfect starter project to break the machine in.
I’m very much a beginner when it comes to making clothes and I think you can tell when you look closely at Betsy’s dress! But the instructions that came with the kit are clear and it took me just a couple of evenings to get the dress finished.
The underarm is a bit funny for a reason I can’t quite work out why and the buttons are a bit of a disaster – first time I have ever made a button hole and it all got a bit confusing especially as Betsy chose different sized buttons from my vintage stash. I’m pretty sure with a bit of practice I’ll get buttons sorted fairly quickly in future projects.
And what are the future projects? Well I have a couple of Oliver + S patterns winging their way over to me and look at what Clothkits do – only those quilted jackets I remember so fondly! I can see some Art and Boo matching coats in the future….