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Welcome to month six of London Town, the Cutty Sark.

Are you ready for a bracing trip along the river to the Maritime Museum at Greenwich? This month we're exploring London's trading past from the deck of the Cutty Sark.

London was a port long before it became a great city. As islanders, the ancient Britons established strong trading routes, unfortunately attracting the attention of the Romans, who invaded - by sea - and founded the city. And as the focus of the Roman road system, London was established as England's commercial centre.

The history of ship building in the Port of London goes back to the time of Alfred the Great in the ninth century. Six hundred years later, Henry VIII opened Royal Dockyards at Deptford and Woolwich. In 1606, fourteen years before the Pilgrim Fathers set out from Plymouth, three small ships, the Susan ConstantDiscovery and Godspeed sailed from London, financed by the London Company of Merchant Adventurers, and founded the state of Virginia.

In the 'Age of Sail' London's fortunes were tied to the trade winds: cargo ships could take up to two years to make a return journey, but faster ships could beat the competition, commanding higher prices, and no cargo was more prized than... tea. Fashionable  Victorians paid a premium to drink the first of a new tea harvest, which lead to the ‘great tea races’. The Cutty Sark was built exclusively for this trade: on its maiden voyage the ship departed London on the 15th of February 1870 bound for Shanghai and, after only 25 days in port, sped back to London, arriving on the 13th of October, laden with 1,305,812 lbs of tea. Although I doubt it lasted long!


But the very same week the Cutty Sark set sail, the Suez Canal opened, ultimately forcing her out of the trade for which she'd been built. Steamships could now take advantage of this ‘short cut’ to bring larger cargoes home even more quickly, ending the Age of Sail.

And we're going to dabble with some 'new technology' ourselves, because this month's block uses the partial seam technique: sail over to the Techniques Box for my tips.

This month's technique...

The partial seam in the Cutty Sark block allows us to add a flag to the top of the mast when the block is partially assembled.

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To remind myself not to sew along the whole seam, I like to mark a line in the seam allowance with a water soluble pen, shown blue in my photo.

When closing the seam, always sew from the end of the previous stitches to avoid any pleats or puckers in the seam.

Andrea and I have had to make a slight alteration to the contents of this month's parcel and you will notice that the Elanora blue print has been substituted for the Elanora rust print shown in the pattern. In truth, they are very similar, hence the mix up.  Apologies dear friend xx

First mate Diane noted a couple typos in our Facebook Page: In step one you should cut a 4½" x 5" piece from the background Fat Quarter, not 4" x 4½" as shown and in step 8 you should join a 1½" square of background to the 1½" square of grey, then add a 1" x 1½" piece of background to the bottom (or that would be a pretty top heavy crows nest). Thanks Diane!

London Town: month 6

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