Thursday, August 18, 2022

They say every day's a gift, but why does it have to be a pair of socks?

 Hello! Increasingly now when I get the time to sit down and write, I get a little bit stuck on how to start. Sometimes I can't understand how I used to be able to publish a new post on here every couple of days? I must have had a lot more to say in those days, or maybe just a less effective filter.

Since I last wrote, things have been pretty good, if a little quiet. Nic and I spent a couple of days in Paris at the end of June, which was lovely. Our visit coincided with our friend Christine being there on holiday with her mum and some of her friends, which meant we were able to spend some time together. It was wonderful - usually when we are in Paris we don't know anyone and while we both speak enough French to conduct ourselves in the language in transactions, it's not enough really to socialise, you know? So it was very fun indeed to be able to have a social aspect to the holiday this time.

We stayed in the same hotel in the 17th that we stayed in when we visited in March, which is a great spot. Like the previous visit, we had a room with a balcony, which came in very handy on at least one evening when we were too hot and tired to want to go very far! We arrived just after the heatwave that France experienced in mid-June but it was still quite hot. As we had been in Paris only a few months previously, the pressure to 'do things' was off, and we just spent the time pottering around our favourite places. I did a tiny bit of fabric shopping (I bought two 3m coupons from Coupons Saint-Pierre and one length of Liberty tana lawn from Reine - hardly anywhere in Ireland sends it and Reine was selling it for cheaper than most places in the UK even, at €25 per metre) and Nic bought himself some lovely linen clothes from Monoprix, but that was about the extent of the shopping. Oh, of course, apart from the large number of snacks and vanilla rooibos teabags that I brought home from Carrefour!

We had a sunset picnic at Canal Saint-Martin on our first night, which was wonderful - champagne, bread, cheese and friends. What could be better than that?!

Hanging at the Panthéon on a hot evening after live music at the Centre Culturel Irlandais

Candyfloss skies from the Pont Neuf

Champagne on the balcony of our hotel. 

A pistachio escargot from Boulangerie du parc Monceau: my true reason for returning to Paris 

It was a huge treat to be able to go back to Paris and, apart from a slightly delayed flight on the way out we managed to avoid the travel chaos that so many others have experienced this summer.

Unfortunately, when we got back to Ireland we both got sick! Nic tested positive for covid shortly after we got home and I tested positive a few days later. Thankfully neither of us had severe symptoms. I had essentially no symptoms at all apart from feeling quite tired, although Nic was feverish for a couple of days and felt achy and tired. It felt a little surreal to catch it after all this time, although not surprising, given the surge and the fact that we chose to travel and therefore accepted the risk. Neither of us have had post-viral symptoms. It took a week or two for me to feel completely back to normal because I got a sinus infection at the end (this would usually happen to me after any illness because my sinuses are twats) but really the worst post-viral symptom was feeling extremely sad. It was like all the colour had gone out of the world. I didn't lose my sense of taste but I did completely lose my appetite and for a couple of weeks after we got better, all either of us could be bothered eating was beans on toast!

Anyway, I'm very grateful that we both had mild symptoms, a safe and comfortable place to isolate, the ability to have our groceries delivered to us and, crucially, paid sick leave so we didn't have to worry that isolating would put our jobs at risk. As I was feeling fine, I worked (from home) for the first few days of being sick but my manager encouraged me to take the time off and rest, which made a big difference. 

Thankfully the rest of the summer was an improvement! I decided to cancel the trip to London we had planned for the end of August, which I realised I had been dreading rather than looking forward to. Instead we had visits from family and friends, a few nice days out and a few days up north to stay with my parents. It's been very low key and relaxing. We've done less than we did last summer, but it's been lovely all the same.

Drinking wine at The French Paradox in Ballsbridge after work one evening. Not pictured: flying ants. It was the wrong day to drink outdoors! The wine was very nice though.

The immersive Van Gogh experience at the RDS with two of our oldest nephews, who travelled down on the bus to spend a weekend with us in July. The exhibition wasn't that good but we had a lot of fun over the weekend.

I joined Nic for an afternoon when he had a meeting in Malahide, and took a photo of this cute house on New Street.

Champagne and chips by the sea on a sunny Friday evening at Blackrock

Fanad Lighthouse - we had a day out in Donegal with my parents recently. We couldn't get into the lighthouse itself because it was full of tours, but it was so lovely outside it didn't really matter.

We bought ice-cream at the ticket office and this mural made me smile. The word 'uachtar' means 'cream' or 'the top portion' in Irish, which is why the word for 'president' is 'Uachtarán' and I love that.

Feet in the Atlantic. Not for long though, because jellyfish.

We took the scenic route home to Dublin after spending a few days up north, stopping to visit Big Tom in Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan.

We had a fun weekend with my parents in Dublin. We popped into the National Library of Ireland to see the Lego model of the building. My crappy photo doesn't do it justice: it was so cool! We were also able to visit the Reading Room in real life, which was lovely:

The Reading Room

We visited Kilmainham Gaol, which was really good! The tour was excellent. 

One of the only photos I took last weekend, when our friend Mike came to visit. This is me with a strawberry and vanilla 99 at Hank's in Glasthule.

I've been sewing a fair bit, but in an extremely repetitive way! I made a pair of trousers for Nic before we went to Paris in some wax cotton I had left from a dress I made earlier in the summer, which means we have the potential for matching outfits again! 

I made a dress for a friend earlier in the summer - a Zero Waste Gather dress by Birgitta Helmersson - although it's not quite finished, as my friend still needs to select buttons for it. I don't have photos of it but it's made in a slightly weightier chambray and has a tiered skirt. It's lovely, if quite heavy, as she wanted it in a maxi length. I opted not to follow the zero waste strategy because I think it's a nonsense in a dress that requires such a lot of fabric to start with! But I did like the fact that there are no odd-shaped scraps as it is all rectangles, and the yardage that is left over is usable. It was also an interesting exercise to work out my own cutting layout with measurements rather than pattern pieces. I like the finished dress and would consider making one for myself. 

The sewing I've done for myself has been very repetitive, which I know isn't super interesting to read about, but sure... that's how I roll. A couple of weeks ago the New Craft House released their 'Everyday Dress' pattern. I'd been waiting for this release, having spotted the dress on their instagram while the pattern was still being developed, so I immediately ordered it. I had my first experience of 'copyshop printing' with a local fabric shop, Crafty Studio. It was excellent - easy to use, a good price and incredibly fast delivery. The PDF allows you to print just the bodice and sleeves, with the option to just make the skirt from measurements rather than printing out the pattern pieces as it's just rectangles. 

The pattern calls for 4 metres of 150cm wide fabric, which is a lot! I didn't have that much of anything in my stash but I did have several 3 metre lengths of the required width, which turned out to be absolutely fine. I'm short, and because you can cut the skirt pieces to whatever length suits you, that's what I did.

I don't have any better photos of this dress, unfortunately - I wore it to the beach and it was quite windy, as you can see! 

This fabric is so cute! It was one of the 3m coupons I bought in Paris in June and I was delighted to find that even though it has a directional print, I had more than enough to make the dress. I cut a size 10 and then just sort of cut the skirt pieces according to what I had left. It ended up being bigger on me than I like - the pattern has a generous amount of ease in the design, partly to allow for the fact that you pull it on, but as I am short I felt like it swamped me a little so I took the dress in at the bodice side seams until I was happy with it. I also put a zip in the centre back rather than the keyhole fastening. This is because I prefer to zip a dress up rather than pull it on over my head. 

I really like this dress and have worn it quite a lot since I made it. The combination of the length of the skirt and something about the print calls to mind that time when Homer Simpson wears a muu-muu, I think? So I have had some thoughts about shortening the skirt portion, but so far haven't fully committed to doing this.

I was so pleased with how well it came out that I immediately made a second one, from the other 3m coupon I bought in June. I cut the bodice a size smaller this time and made the skirt shorter, but otherwise it's the same. I am fully delighted with this dress - it is so cute - and especially happy that it worked out because the fabric was an impulse purchase! I had already decided when I went back to Paris that I was only going to buy a couple of bits of fabric and I was quite specific about what I was looking for, and this wasn't one of those things, but I'm glad I went for it. I love the colours and this dress sort of replaces a really pretty checked shirt dress that I have which is now a little bit too small, so it's extra welcome! I think it will look very cute with knee-high boots for the autumn.

After the success of that checked dress I had a burning notion to make a gingham one - I have a gingham dress in a similar style from Marks and Spencer that I wear quite often and this is one of the things that attracted me to the style. Finding nice 100% cotton gingham is surprisingly hard but Beyond the Pink Door came through with some gorgeous red gingham for €10 per metre. This time, I wanted to have a tiered skirt rather than one with a ruffle - I worried the ruffle would be unbearably twee in gingham - so I worked out the lengths I wanted and away I went:

My fabulous necklace is from Autumn Aurelia

I mean, any worries I had about looking too twee clearly weren't that intense when you consider how I styled this with a big rainbow necklace but anyway. I wore this into town for an afternoon of errands and I had SO many people compliment me on the dress - at one point everyone in the (admittedly quite small) shop I was in were agreeing that it was a 'dream dress' to which I was like... yes, actually, it is!!

And then last week I made another one in the Liberty fabric I bought in Paris. I bought this Love Pop cotton lawn with the intention of making my own twist on the gorgeous Mary Benson 'Zelda' dress.

I had a pattern I was going to use for this - I bought a frankly hilarious costume pattern for a regency-style gown to find something with the square neck and empire bodice in the Mary Benson dress. But in the event I decided against it - I have a couple of shop-bought dresses with square necklines that I enjoy wearing, but I knew I'd get much more wear out of a higher neckline. Anyway, same deal as the gingham dress, and similarly an absolute dream. Being tana lawn it is extremely floaty and light, and because it's on a dark base I think it'll look really cute in the cooler weather with tights and my DM chelsea boots.

All of this is to say, it's a great pattern! I especially love the sleeves, which are my *perfect* puff sleeves - enough for there to be a bit of drama but not so puffy that I look like I'm in Anne Shirley cosplay.

It's been an intense couple of weeks of making and I'm taking a pause now as summer is almost over (officially over, actually, according to the celtic calendar) and I need to give some thought to what I might like to make for autumn. But I'm very happy indeed with my sewing so far this year. It has all been of a specific aesthetic - big and floaty and colourful - but I have been wearing the shit out of it, it's perfect for where I am in my head and in my life at the moment. So while it doesn't make for good sewing blogging, it has been making me feel really good! 

So anyway, that's the craic with me for now! Until next time!

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Well, it was Friday night last week. It'll be Friday night next week and every week until we're dead. And even then, the whole rotten business will go on and on and on.

Hello again! I'm getting slowly back into the habit of blogging semi-frequently, leaving it only months at a time between posts rather than actual years. Progress, eh? I keep hearing that blogging is dead and perhaps it is. I certainly don't think that there are more than about five people still reading here (although hello to the five of you: I am grateful you're still here!) but sure, instagram has become unusable and I won't make reels so it's nice to have a place where I can just write down what I'm thinking, even if it is mostly nonsense.

Anyway, I've been having good craic here since my last post. We had a beautiful spring and although summer has been tentative to get going, I've been enjoying it immensely. For me there is something incredibly nostalgic about the smells of spring and summer here that I think are quite distinct to Ireland: the mix in the air of turf smoke (I do feel quite guilty about enjoying this smell because burning turf is SO bad for the environment) and the green smells of the trees and the grass and the summer wildflowers brings me right back to my childhood summers and even more to my teenage summers in Donegal. Although Dublin is a city, in our leafy corner of the southside it feels quite village-like with the sea and the countryside on our doorstep. It's very lovely.

The Cherry Tree path in Herbert Park. When we arrived last year we had missed it, so I really enjoyed the few weeks of blossom this year. My phone is mainly photos of cherry blossom now.

Anyway I've been having a grand time since my last post. We spent Easter weekend with my family in the north, which was great. Even after a year here, I feel very lucky to be able to just take a train home whenever I feel like it! I also took the train north more recently to spend the day in Belfast with my best friend, who lives there. It was such a good day and a lovely reminder of what it feels like to be able to semi-spontaneously make a plan for a day out, which is something I used to do all the time before the pandemic and the move.

A sunny day in Belfast

We've had a few really nice days out and short trips over the last couple of months. We visited the National Botanic Gardens up in Glasnevin in the autumn, but the greenhouses were still closed to the public at that stage, but on a return visit a couple of weeks ago we were able to go in around the greenhouses. They are spectacular! The only ones I'd been into before were the glasshouses in the botanic gardens in both Belfast (small but lovely) and Oxford (bigger, lovely, but somewhere you have to pay to get into) so the scale of these was a little surprising: they're massive! 

This monstera is only slightly bigger than the one in my living room, which is putting out new leaves at the rate of about three a week at the moment.

I'm pretty terrible at remembering to take photos on a day out now, but a couple of Saturdays ago we enjoyed a beautifully sunny afternoon by the sea, walking from Seapoint along to Dun Laoghaire. It was the second half of a walk we had first attempted to do on St. Patrick's Day - from Sandymount Strand along the coast to Dun Laoghaire but that day we got the DART home from Seapoint because it started to rain. It's a lovely walk, most of which you can do right along the sea itself. Once we got to Dun Laoghaire, we had a little potter around the town and had a few drinks in the sunshine before heading home on the train. 

Sea swimmers at Seapoint

I've heard this summer being referred to as the summer of 'revenge travel', which is to say, people taking all the trips and holidays that they were unable to during the last two years. I feel this urge in myself and we have ended up having a trip of some sort planned for almost every month of the year so far. In May, our trip was down to Galway for a long weekend in the city. I had only been to Galway once before, when we had a family holiday there when I was a teenager, but it had really made an impression on me as somewhere I wanted to visit again. Nic's work took him on a day-trip to Connemara, so I joined him for that and we spent the rest of the weekend in Galway city.

Nic was visiting the Telegael studios in Connemara, just outside An Spidéal, which was very cool. We spent an afternoon there with some model-making students in studios that had formerly been occupied by Roger Corman! We only had a few hours there but thankfully it included a walk through the countryside down to the beach where we could watch the tiny planes taking off to head to the Aran Islands.

Beautiful white sand in Connemara

Galway is gorgeous. It's pretty small, but very popular as there seems to be some sort of festival on for each weekend of the year. The weekend we visited, there was a ukulele festival on! We stayed in the Connacht Hotel, which is just outside of the city centre, and it was also very popular, although it seemed to mainly be popular with stag and hen parties - when we arrived to check in, there were a group of women in towels wearing penis-shaped hats pushing themselves around the lobby on one of those luggage trollies - but thankfully the hotel is so big that we weren't disturbed by them at all in our room.

We didn't do anything very exciting over the course of the weekend apart from explore the city. Nic got his first experience of live traditional Irish music at the Crane Bar in the west end of the city, which was great. We spent hours in both Kenny's bookshop and Charlie Byrne's bookshop. Kenny's is quite simply the biggest bookshop I've ever been in - it's essentially a giant warehouse of books with an art gallery attached to it and it was a great place to spend a couple of hours on a rainy Saturday morning. I remembered Charlie Byrne's bookshop from my teenage visit to Galway as it was there that I spent my holiday money on secondhand copies of Terry Pratchett novels, which I read on the grass in Eyre Square drinking my first ever takeaway coffee.

One of many stacks of books in Kenny's bookshop

Charlie Byrne's bookshop

One of my favourite things that we did was walking from the Spanish Arch out along the coast to Salthill, including walking out the causeway to Mutton Island. You can't get onto the island itself, which is mainly just home to a water treatment plant (although according to wikipedia it is a popular place for marriage proposals, which... ?????) but walking out the causeway is still pretty interesting! Salthill isn't super exciting but I'm glad we went because it meant that we could go to Curry's Amusements - basically, I wanted to go on the ferris wheel and on the waltzers. Both were BRILLIANT. The ferris wheel was great because of the views over Galway Bay, of course. The waltzers were brilliant because they are by far my favourite fairground attraction and I hadn't been on the waltzers since maybe the summer of 2019. We also went on the chair-o-plane, because why not. 

From the ferris wheel at Salthill. The Galway weather was ... not great... for my hair!

Claddagh Quay, Galway

We were only away for a couple of days but it felt like a proper holiday - very unhurried and relaxing, and we were very lucky with the weather. It's extremely changeable, being on the Atlantic, but it was more sunny than not over the course of the weekend and we only got caught in the rain once. I hope we'll make it back down there at some point later this year so we can do the boat tour that I saw advertised that takes you to Aran Mór via the Cliffs of Moher.

Next week we are heading back to Paris for a few days and we have plans for London in August, the south of France in September and Kerry in November... I guess revenge travel really is a thing!

In between all the flitting about, I've managed a little bit of sewing. I decided not to make a full 'Me Made May' pledge this year but to take part by remembering to get photos when I was wearing handmade clothes. Although we have more space overall in our house in Dublin than we had in our flat in Leamington, my wardrobe is much smaller. Between that and the fact that since the pandemic and the move my style has changed, I have been gradually working my way through my clothes and saying goodbye to the clothes I don't want to wear any more. Keeping track of what I did and didn't want to wear in May - and what shop-bought clothes I wore - was very helpful in doing another bit of a wardrobe cull and in sewing a few bits in a slightly different style.

I've been gravitating towards wearing - and therefore making - big clothes with a lot of fabric. I've found myself wearing the Justine Tabak dress I bought secondhand and altered earlier this year pretty much every week, and that's definitely inspired me to make a few more dresses that fit the description of being big, colourful and comfortable.

Justine Tabak dress with Be Thankful cardigan, worn during May

With that in mind, pretty much everything I've sewed for myself in the last couple of months has met that brief. I wanted to riff on the style of the Justine Tabak dress using a pattern I already had, so I took the Nina Lee Bakerloo dress and used it as a base for making a loose-fitting dress with puffed sleeves and a tiered skirt. I had the idea in my head and wanted to test it out on fabric I wasn't overly attached to, so I used some Orla Kiely bed linen that I had been given but which was too big for my bed:

Hydrangea dress on a windy day (every day is a windy day in Dublin)

The fabric is absolutely beautiful quality and because I was working from a king-sized set, I had loads to work with! I omitted the collar from the Bakerloo pattern and put a zip in the back rather than using the button fastening. I don't really like having to pull clothes on over my head and would rather have to do up a zip than have my hair all rumpled by my clothes. Instead of using narrow elastic in the sleeve hem to create a ruffle, I used wider elastic and finished the sleeves in a similar way to how the Assembly Line cuff dress sleeves are finished and I like it a lot. The dress ended up being a little bigger overall than I was planning but I'm happy with it and have worn it a reasonable number of times since then. I don't think it looks extremely like it was made out of bedclothes - I hope it doesn't, anyway!!

As I was so happy with how this worked out, I had a go again using some Ankara fabric that I bought when we were in Paris in March. I cut the bodice a size smaller but that was the only change I made from the Orla Kiely version. I've worn this dress pretty much every week since I made it at the beginning of May - the print has some stylised birds on it... geese, or swans? As with lots of wax cottons, the print design runs parallel to the selvedge which can make it a little tricky if you don't want to work on the cross grain. But I think it looks good here - even though the birds are flying weirdly sideways, I think it's abstract enough to work. 

Ankara Bakerloo dress - the first time I wore it was out for drinks with Nic, a book launch at the Museum of Literature, dinner and drinks on the walk home. Fabulous!

Drinks in the sunshine at Le Perroquet

The combination of the wax cotton and the tiered skirt put me in mind of Kemi Telford's fabulous maxi dresses, so I decided to use this combination with the other piece of wax cotton that I bought in Paris, but this time add another tier and go maxi. I made this dress at the weekend there and wore it out for drinks on Saturday evening:

it is literally ALWAYS windy in Dublin!

I used almost all of the 5 and a half metres of this fabric on the dress and it really does feel like a LOT of fabric on. It's intense. I might go back and lower the neckline slightly because as it stands it is very full coverage, but it is pleasingly very swishy to walk around in! When I came down the stairs in it to show it to Nic he told me I looked like Omega from The Three Doctors and... I have to admit, I can see it! I would wear Omega's outfit. Hat and everything.

It's been a little strange to find myself not wanting to wear clothes that I really loved wearing pre-pandemic. For example, during May I wore what had been one of my very favourite dresses - the Honoria dress, made with beautiful Ralph Lauren linen - and just wasn't that bothered about it at all. I'm keeping it for the time being and have packed it away, but there were several other dresses that I just had no interest in any more. While it's very normal and usual for your tastes to change over time, I think I find this strange because it has happened largely as a result of the last few years. Sometimes I look back on 2020 in particular and wonder how we did it. It seems like such a strange time to look back on. I had a far easier year than a lot of people but with a little distance, thinking about it makes me want to be sick with sadness and grief. 

Increasingly, I think I'm experiencing prolonged mental health repercussions from that year (and the year that preceded it, which was personally very difficult) I don't mean that I am unhappy, and it's not even that I'm anxious... it's hard to put into words, but living through the last few years has been traumatic and I feel the impact of that in all sorts of ways all the time. Maybe that's why I'm so keen to surround myself in large amounts of soft fabric. Maybe it's the clothing equivalent of Linus carrying his blanket around with him, I don't know.

I made this McCall's patterns tiered dress a couple of weeks ago. It is intensely unflattering because it looks like I'm wearing a shower curtain but I do like it a lot. It's very comforting to wear.

It does feel a little strange to write that because my life is very happy, and in the last few months especially my ability to get out and do things has increased a lot. But we're all made up of the experiences we've had, and as experiences go the last few years have been intense. I think we'll continue to feel the impact of it for a long time to come. I'm sure I will anyway.

And on that cheery note, I'm going to wrap up because I have gone on for absolutely ages... until next time, mes amies!

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Don’t play mind checkers with me, man. I’m not in the mood.

Hello! As my eight-year-old nephew would say, WHAT'S POPPIN?? (He really does say that, and it makes me laugh every time I think about it.) It's been a little while since I last had any motivation to write, but sure that's how it goes. 

Things have been pretty good! One of the most noticeable life improvements since we moved is that the pace of life is very different. This is largely due to our jobs, which are far less stressful than what either of us had been doing in England, but it's also that even in the city, the pace of life here is generally a little more gentle. It's one of the changes I've been working out in myself - who am I when I'm not quite stressed all the time?!

The early part of the year was chilly and damp, but with some really lovely bright days dotted around. In February, we had a couple of days away in West Cork as Nic's work took him to Skibbereen. We broke up the journey with a night in Cork city, partly so that I could book us a table for dinner at Café Paradiso. It's worth going to Cork just for Paradiso - Nic described the dark chocolate sorbet as 'life-changing'!

No photo of the dark chocolate sorbet - we were too blissed out by the time we got to dessert!

Overdressed for dinner

The following morning we took the bus down to Skibbereen, which is right down almost about as far south as you can go in Ireland. It's a very small town and there isn't a huge amount to do - especially if, like us, you don't drive - but we had such a wonderful time. We were there to visit a film producer that Nic is working with, so we spent some time with him and his wife and had a lovely dinner at their home. The rest of the time we spent pottering around the beautiful town and hanging out in O'Brien's Corner Bar, which shot right to the top of my list of all-time favourite pubs.

The River Ilen

West Cork countryside from the Compass Loop walk 

None of my photos remotely do justice to how lovely the area is - it was breathtaking even on a cold and drizzly February day, so I can only imagine that it would be exceptionally beautiful in the spring and summer. 

Blissed out by the fire in the Corner Bar

Hopefully we will be able to make a return journey later in the year because I would love to go back. What made the trip so special was the way it restored my confidence a little in being able to socialise without being crippled by anxiety! We had a lovely dinner with David, who invited us, and his wife Patsy and their guests Ciara and Barry - it had been a long time since I'd had the need to socialise with people I don't know and I was a little out of practice, but I really enjoyed myself.

Spending time in Cork turned Nic into a Murphy's fan

Spending some time away also made us both feel a little bit more confident to travel again so, for Nic's birthday, we decided to spend a few days in Paris. This felt like an impossible dream even as we were booking it, honestly. I was a little tormented if I was being completely stupid in doing it. I still don't know that it wasn't a stupid thing to be doing, to be fair. But it was wonderful and I'm so glad we did!

The last time we were in Paris was in 2018, so it was a very emotional return. And it was quite different this time. It was the first time we had flown to Paris, rather than take the Eurostar (one of the main things I miss about living in England, I have to be honest) and the first time we stayed in a hotel. I opted for a hotel rather than an apartment because it felt like it would be less hassle and it was similar in terms of cost. We stayed in a hotel in the 17th, which was lovely. We had a balcony! We had a long weekend and while I had been prepared for it to be very chilly and wet, the weather was absolutely lovely for most of the time we were there.

Morning light from a balcony in Batignolles

We arrived late the night before Nic's birthday, and the day itself dawned bright and sunny. It was the first day of the year where I was able to wear sandals, which was a real treat! We spent the morning strolling around Batignolles before walking down to the river and having lunch in Saint Germain-des-Prés. From there we took the bus along to the Grands Boulevards to enjoy the view from the roof of Galeries Lafayette and then up into Montmartre to visit some old haunts. In the evening we walked out along the canal to Porte de la Villette.

Window displays in pharmacies are something I always really enjoy when I'm in France. I don't need to explain why.

On the roof of Galeries Lafayette

Reunited with my beloved rue Caulaincourt Pizza Man

The steps at rue Paul Albert - this is one of my favourite parts of Paris

Candyfloss skies over the canal Saint-Denis

The following day, we had tickets to go to an exhibition at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent on Avenue Marceau. Nic had found this exhibition, which is part of a bigger exhibition series across Paris. This one focused on archive materials that focus on the daily work of a couture house: sketches, polaroids and toiles. It was small but beautiful, with an absolute highlight being the ability to walk through Saint-Laurent's atelier as it had been used during his life.

Sketches, some with swatches, including the Mondrian dress

Pattern pieces


The atelier

Being in a museum worked up a thirst, so we retired to Harry's New York Bar for cocktails. We had never been there before and it was a real treat: home of the French 75!

I had two!

Anyway, I won't share every single photo I took when we were there! Suffice to say, we had a beautiful time and it felt very emotional to return. I even managed some fabric shopping - for the first time, really, since 2019. I bought a few pieces of fabric in the Marché Saint-Pierre and a couple of lovely bits of Ankara fabric in the small shops in la Goutte d'Or. That was wonderful because it's hard enough to find in Ireland but of course you're spoiled for choice in this part of Paris!

Apart from some stress getting through the airport at Orly to come home (partly our fault, partly shortages of staff on security, partly just... airports) it was a really wonderful visit and we are tentatively planning to get back for a few days towards the end of June to coincide with a friend being there. 

I haven't been doing lots of sewing but I did have a new handmade dress to wear on holiday! At the end of February/beginning of March I bought the Cuff dress pattern from The Assembly Line and made a frankly disastrous attempt at making it from some otherwise lovely viscose. It came out absolutely, hilariously huge... I'm not sure how it turned out so massive on me! I chalked it up to having made an expensive mistake (the pattern alone cost almost €30!) but after talking it through with some Dublin sewing people at a meetup, I resolved to give it another go in some more stable cotton.

Things Called Jazz dress - The Asssembly Line patterns Cuff dress in Nerida Hansen cotton sateen with Saltwater sandals

So this is actually a very simple pattern and it is designed to have quite a lot of wearing ease, so part of the issue with my first attempt was that there was more ease than I like and this was emphasised by the viscose. For my second attempt, I sized down to the XS and used some Nerida Hansen cotton sateen that I had in my stash. I shortened the bodice quite a lot - by around two and a half inches - and this also made a big improvement to the fit. Otherwise I sewed this pretty much out of the envelope, although the elastic I used was slightly less wide than the pattern called for.

I don't typically enjoy wearing an elasticated waist, so I'm not sure what drew me to this pattern. I'm aiming for big, soft and colourful in my sewing this year and this pattern met that brief! I'm not 100% sold on the elastic at the waist aesthetically but it's very comfortable. I love the sleeves, though! They have a little volume and I think the elastic cuff looks very cool as well as being very comfortable, because it doesn't sit tight to the skin.

The fabric had been in my stash since late 2020, when I bought it from Neko Neko Fabrics. It's such a fun print and it gives me very 90s vibes, especially when combined with this shape! I had very low expectations going in and figured that I wouldn't be upset if it didn't work out as I wasn't overly attached to the fabric. But I like it a lot and have worn it a fair few times since I made it. I'll have to try to make another one to get the value out of that pattern, as it was so expensive! But I am very happy with this.

I also did a little bit of alteration. I bought a Justine Tabak dress secondhand on someone's instagram sale because I liked the fabric and also because it was a ridiculous bargain (I got it for €35 and new it would have been almost €300!) It was a couple of sizes too big, but a very relaxed shape so I figured it would be easy enough to alter. And it was! I took it in at the side seams and took some volume out of the sleeves and I've worn it a fair few times since then:

This is very different for me! The pastel colours and the shape of the dress are a little out of my comfort zone, as is the fabric belt, but I like it a lot. It's soft and bright and comfortable and it has definitely inspired me in some of the other things I want to make this spring and summer!

Anyway that's all the craic from me for now, so I'm going to leave you with a photo of me and Nic being cute on St. Patrick's Day on our walk along the coast to Blackrock:

Until next time, folks!