Thursday, September 18, 2014

This bag is just full of knives and bras... and loose onions

Hey guys, happy Thursday! Ugh, this week has been a bit of a struggle, I'm not going to lie. I'm going to get straight in here with the complaining, right, get it over with in the first paragraph and then I'll be on to bright and shiny and pretty things. Do feel free to skip ahead, I won't mind. This week has been a struggle. For some unknown reason my mood took a major nosedive on Sunday afternoon - I'm talking actual tears when my laptop was slow to load an episode of Luther I wanted to watch. And I mean, Idris Elba is pretty and all but I'm not THAT into Luther. It was one of those attacks of the blues that September seems to be so generous about handing out. I have a work thing that is making me really anxious and it's kind of seeped into everything else! I finally got a handle on it today, and I'm still feeling jittery about it but a lot better.

Sorry to be vague-booking here, but it's not something I can talk about openly just at the moment. It's made this week crawl by, I've had a tension headache for what feels like forever - you know the drill. I broke my special short keyboard on Tuesday by spilling tea on it, which sucked because it meant my keyboard AND my tea got ruined, and I dealt with that stress by buying shoes. Then yesterday I went to the park after work with Nic and felt what I thought was a leaf or something fall into my dress. Got home, felt something squirming around and found a LIVE BEETLE. IN MY BRA. There are no words to describe how weird that was. The beetle was fine - I fished him out and Nic put him on the windowsill and he flew away. I was like this:


But, you know. My week can only get better from the moment when I retrieved a LIVE FUCKING INSECT FROM MY UNDERWEAR. Because, duh.

A LIVE INSECT.


Actually, let's be real here. I'm not cool Beek 2.0 - I'm this...



That will never stop being funny. Ever.

Anyway. Seriously the beetle bra thing did pick my week up and after that, I was feeling happy enough to sing along loudly to the theme tune to The OC. Our poor downstairs neighbours.

So that's the craic with my week. Thanks for indulging me there, lads. Now on to the dresses!

You might recall me saying a few posts back that I think I sorted out the fit on the Sewaholic Cambie dress. After lots of you guys weighed in with helpful advice on how to sort out the bodice fit, I gave it a go. I did a quick bodice toile and experimented with curving the darts under the bust and making them more...I guess, bullet-shaped? This is an alteration that Liz recommended to me when I first met her back in April, and it did the trick. I sewed the darts as drafted then pinched out the excess and redrew the darts. All good! Then I cut into some fabric that has been sitting in my stash for a while and got sewing.

Tammy 2 dress - Sewaholic Cambie dress with pleated skirt and Lola Ramona Angie shoes*

It's kind of hard to tell from the photo but curving the darts under the bust made a huge improvement to how the bodice fits. I omitted the waistband again because I think that works for me, and just for a change I used the skirt from Simplicity 1419. Because I LOVE THAT SHIZ. It's a really nice skirt pattern.

If the fabric looks familiar, it's because it is. I've used it before - in the Meta dress, which I sewed at the end of 2011. I used the pastel colourway that time, which I had bought from Barry's Fabrics in Birmingham. I loved that dress and wore it loads but it doesn't fit any more and I didn't feel up to altering it so I gave it to a friend. I've had this colourway of the fabric since the spring - I bought it from that online store that shall remain nameless, along with the sunflower fabric I used to make the At the Indie Disco dress.

Ba-da-ba-da-ba...DORP

So anyway, yeah. The fit is still not totally perfect, like. But I'm broadly happy with it. I might take a peep more out of the tops of the darts, but I might not. I want to see how it works with the sweetheart neckline that the pattern is drafted with.

You know what, though? I freaking LOVE this dress and I'm so happy with it. I think the bodice works brilliantly with the pleated skirt, which looks really cute with the measuring tape print of the fabric. And the fabric is SO fun. I wore this to work on a day when our statistician was in - she's usually based in Sheffield - and she was tickled with all the numbers. I have big meeting with her next week and she's one of my favourite work people, so I'm going to wear it to the meeting. I'm super cool like that.


BACK VIEW FOR THE WIN.

Woah, bright eyes, that's not a super invisible invisible zip, is it? Oh well, wevs. I like the way this dress fits through the back. And I like that one stubborn little flick of hair that would not just sit the fuck down. You go, stubborn little flick of hair. You do you.

So anyway. This dress is not perfect, but it was a nice pattern alteration to have a go at, and it was a quick win in terms of sewing. It's bright and cheerful and fun, and this fabric still makes me laugh, because it reminds me that this exists in the world:


LOOK HOW HAPPY HE IS. I like his little hat. I wonder where you get hats where the brim is at the back rather than the front. Does anyone know where they come from?

Oh no, hold on, I've worked it out...



Okay. I'm talking a lot of shite here so maybe I should tip on out. My friend Sybil gave me a bottle of Burleigh's gin as a gift yesterday, so I'm all set to put my Gin School lessons into practice and make me and Nic a perfect gin and tonic. I'm going to leave with one more picture of my dress because I love it. It's awkward as fuck, though.

Pigeon toes!

Oh, and I should say - this dress was totally inspired by one of my very favourite sewing bloggers, Anna from Paunnet. She made a Cambie from this fabric aaaaages ago, and it was gorgeous. Thanks for the inspiration, Anna! And regarding the name - well, I made this dress when Nic was away for the weekend and as well as chain-watching Luther, I chain-watched Parks and Recreation.

I want to be Tammy Swanson-Swanson when I grow up.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

She was multi-tasking. It's a thing women can do. Like smelling nice and wrapping gifts.

Happy Saturday everyone! I have to admit: I'm already in my pyjamas. Pyjamas and fleecy socks and a pair of sandals I'm trying to break in, and I have my glasses on. Nic asked me did I want to go outside and get some photos on the front step but I thought I'd spare you - and the people of Leamington - that particular delight. Still, though. I'm looking pretty smokin'.

Anyway.  I don't have a lot of craic at all today. I've had a busy and pretty stressful week. I had a big work deadline to meet, but after I did I celebrated by going to Ikea and then having noodles. I know that makes my life sound really sad and maybe it actually is, but I bought some fabric in Ikea and the noodles were really good. I also had my first ever steamed custard bun and that kind of rocked my week. Yeah, I know, I need to get out more. Especially as the main excitement of my week was the new series of Scott and Bailey starting on Wednesday night. I'm trying to decide whether to recap the episodes again this year - I know a fair few of you guys are also into cop shows too, so I might. Let's see if I can find the time to do the screen caps, I guess!

No sewing this week but after my sewing binge last weekend and the weekend before, that seems fine. As well as making a few new dresses, I have also tackled some alterations, taking in a number of dresses and completely reconstructing one. I won't show you pictures of the ones I have taken in, but I am pleased with the refashion of a very special dress - the Lobsterlex dress:

Lobsterlex dress - By Hand London Elisalex dress worn with Atelier Scandinave sandals

Yaaay! My Lobsterlex dress is back in action. This was the second Elisalex dress I made, back at the start of 2013. I loved it then and wore it reasonably often but it's been packed away for over a year now because it was just too big. After the success of the refashion of the Feckin Birds dress, I sat down and took this apart. It sat in my sewing box for a couple of weeks - for some reason the idea of sitting down and re-sewing it was pretty unappealing - but I finally got around to it on Sunday evening, with a couple of episodes of Luther for company.

I recut the bodice using the Elisalex pattern pieces I have re-traced in the last few months. This wasn't a perfect solution because the lines of the pattern pieces are slightly different across sizes, but it worked pretty well. I didn't recut the skirt pieces - instead I took it in at the side seams and matched up the box pleats by eye. I also cut about four inches off the length of the skirt because while the midi length worked when the dress had sleeves, I thought it would look better now with a shorter skirt.

HOLY FAT FACE BATMAN!


I'm so glad to have this dress back in rotation, seriously. I mean, I get that a dress with giant lobster all over it isn't exactly a wardrobe staple. Especially one with a ridiculously exaggerated tulip skirt! I know that a lot of people really don't like the skirt that comes as part of the Elisalex pattern but I'm very fond of it. On this particular dress, I think it just adds nicely to the overall crazy effect. In addition - this fabric just makes me happy. I got it at a swap at a Birmingham meet-up at the end of 2012 - I think it came from Marie - so I just have all-round happy feelings associated with it.


I've been able to wear this dress in this little late-summer comeback we're having. I think it looks really cute with my gold sandals! It's not going to be all that wearable when the weather gets colder but I did finally invest in some orange shoes this week, so maybe I can keep this dress in rotation through October, anyway. You know me, though. I'll be holding onto bare legs for as long as I possibly can. I'll still be running around in these sandals until there is frost on the ground. HUSSY FEET!

Anyway lads, I'm kind of at a loss for things to say this evening. I suppose there's not a lot to say about a dress I have made twice. That's the other thing about alterations - as well as being boring to do, they're boring to blog about! Isn't it funny though how boring alterations are. I had this dress in pieces - basically no different to having a new project cut out and ready to sew - but I really dragged my feet over it. I suppose I find the allure of the shiny and new just too much to resist. Which, you know, goes some way towards explaining the contents of my shoe shelves.

So, it's Saturday evening and I have gin to drink so I'm going to leave it here. I'll see you guys next week, maybe with a very serious, academic review of Scott and Bailey.


Monday, September 08, 2014

I engaged in sexting, texting, and tex-mexting, which is when you take a picture of your genitals from the restroom of a Chili’s To Go.

Hey guys! I hope you're all having shiny happy Mondays. It's all good here because I have been working from home and the sun has been shining, and ALSO there's a cafe in town that makes Mars Bar muffins. To be honest, they're not as gooey as you might expect but that's no bad thing.

I've had a pretty good weekend. Nic was away in Amsterdam at a conference so I spent the weekend doing some of my favourite things: drinking gin, sewing, hanging out with Lauren, drinking prosecco and watching trashy TV. In fairness, the TV wasn't all trashy but I did watch basically 11 hours of Luther. I know I'm late to the show and it's mainly because I find Idris Elba's real accent (or at least, the British accent he is doing in the show) incredibly disconcerting. I like a good trashy cop show more than almost any other kind of TV show (see also my recent binge on the truly terrible Blue Bloods) and Luther ticked that box really well. It seemed really strange to me to begin with but that's partly because I had watched an episode and a half before I realised I had started watching the third series rather than the first one. Derp. Do I always pay 100% attention to what I am watching?


I think my favourite thing about Luther is the conversations that his colleagues have about him behind his back. Someone tells Saskia Reeves that Luther is 'nitroglycerine' - like, excellent dialogue there, dudes. I'm not ashamed to say I was heckling the laptop HE'S A MAVERICK COP GUYS OMG JUST DEAL WITH IT.


HE JUST HAS HIS OWN MORAL CODE OKAY.

Anyway, my weekend-long Luther obsession is really just holding me over until Wednesday, when the new series of Scott and Bailey starts. I found this out on Thursday when I was standing in line in the supermarket to buy pesto, and I did a little happy dance. Hurrah!

I guess Gill likes reading books about serial killers almost as much as I do...

So. That was my weekend. It's really just as well that I don't live alone, to be honest. As I said earlier, I did do a fair bit of sewing, which was really nice. I made two dresses and I altered three: including finally getting around to remaking my Lobsterlex dress. So I have some catching up to do on the blogging front! Here is a dress I made last weekend, when I had a fun sewing day with Sarah and Charlotte. We started with 'brunch'. I use the word advisedly, because we ate at 9am, which made that meal BREAKFAST, but whatever. Then we spent the whole day sewing and talking crap and watching TV. It was really good fun.

Don't Tell The Mean Girls dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress with a midi-length skirt, worn with Swedish hasbeens Mimmi sandals

Soooo. The story of this dress is that I bought just over two metres of this border print fabric from Barry's in Birmingham when Nic and I had our little day out last month. I was drawn to the Marimekko-style flowers in the print and was tickled by the border print itself. It runs from the left selvedge to the right with the flowers becoming bigger in each row. It's a reasonably weighty cotton - probably a poplin - and I think it was around £5 per metre.

This fabric was kind of challenging to work with. I had a very specific idea of how I wanted the print to look on the skirt and on the bodice and in order to achieve this, I had to cut the whole thing on the crosswise grain. I also had to make the skirt significantly longer than I'd usually go for - it was either that or cut through the flowers themselves. I guess I could have made the skirt shorter by omitting that first row of flowers but I must admit, I kind of like the midi length. It's a bit different.


Cutting the bodice on the crosswise grain might not have been the wisest move. to be honest. It - unsurprisingly - affected the fit in an annoying way. There's no stretch at all so the bodice is very close-fitting and I had to buy myself an extra fraction of an inch by moving the zip out a little bit. I don't know how it looks to you guys - maybe it looks horrendously tight - and it's certainly closer-fitting than I would necessarily like. Still, it's wearable and I like it.


Back view - you can see where it's pulling a bit across the back. I certainly won't be wearing this dress to go out to dinner, or to lounge around the house in. Do you like my unintentional pattern-matching across the back, though? Look at that instead of the wrinkling, yeah?

Often I find that I like fabric much better made up as a dress than I did on the bolt, and I have to be totally honest and tell you that's not the case with this dress. I do like it, but it didn't really live up to the vision I had for it in my head. But, you know. You win some, you lose some.

I got some awesome new shoes, though. Check it outttttttttt:


I bought them in the Swedish hasbeens sale and these were a pre-emptive strike. I ordered them the weekend before a shitty week, knowing that by Thursday I'd be in the market for a shoe-shaped pick-me-up, and it totally worked. They kind of look like old-lady driving gloves, but they're hella comfortable and I love the colour.  And yay new shoes, right? I confess, though. My stressful week did result in the hasbeens sale taking another hit from me, but that's a story for another blog post.

Anyway lads, I'm away here. I have dinner to cook. I'll leave you with another Luther gif though because, while it's silly and everything, I'm only human and he is a very handsome man:


I like to think he's applauding his own extreme handsomeness here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Ba-da Seuss, a palm caboose, and a panda hop, and pantyhose, you look buppity, buttons and bowwwws!

Hola! What's happening, folks? I have had an enjoyable midweek day off today for no other reason other than I could, and it's been lovely. I slept late, had lunch in the park with Nic, went to the library, had a nap in the afternoon and had a shiny new pair of shoes delivered. I had a mild and slow-burning hangover as a result of a slightly boozy evening with Sally last night, but nothing enough to slow my roll. Excellent day off fun.

Well, anyway, that's basically the craic with me! Thank you to everyone who commented so encouragingly on my last post about my too-big Cambie dress. In a fit of energy on Monday afternoon, I took it apart and basted it way in at the side seams. I didn't touch the darts initially because I wanted to see if just taking it in up the side seams would work - and it did! So that dress is now wearable and totally cute. Hurrah! I think I need to think about how to make the Cambie work better on me - I do think that if I make it again I will need to look at the darts - but I'm glad to have found a quick fix for my dress because alterations are BORING.

I haven't taken photos of the altered dress, but that's okay because I have a brand spanking new dress to blog about this evening. Whoop whoop! I made this dress on August bank holiday Monday, when it was so rainy and dark that leaving the house wasn't on the cards at all. Actually, I'd had such a fun weekend what with the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition and everything that staying in the house was no big deal and it was very good to have a nice big block of sewing time. I got down to sewing one of the lengths of fabric I had bought that Saturday on Goldhawk Road with the girls. Yeah - that whole not buying much fabric thing really isn't working out amazingly well for me, is it?! I bought two metres of this insanely patterned cotton poplin in A1 Textiles for £4.50 per metre. A bargain for 100% cotton and 60 inches wide, right?


Er. Yeah. Basically this fabric needs to sit the fuck down. I know I have joked before about twee nightmares, and this is kind of it - flowers, bows, fucking polka dot bows, POM POMS... I think you can see why I had to have it. Janene remarked that she thought I must have some kind of radar for very me fabric, and maybe she is right. I love it because I mean, look at it.

Two metres is plenty for me to get a dress out of and because this fabric was nice and wide I had lots to play with, so I reached for Vogue V8998 once again. It's a bit more time-consuming to make because of the 7,000 skirt panels, but I think it's worth it. I like the pattern so much I'm tempted to buy its sister pattern, V8997.

Buttons and Bows dress - Vogue V8998 worn with Irregular Choice Windsor shoes*

Ha ha! Oh, I don't know why I look so unsure in this photo but I am really happy with how this dress turned out. Maybe the slight rabbit in the headlights expression is just because I have a fairly stupid face. Anyway, after I had put the bodice together I had to do a little bit of tweaking to the princess seams in the front - I needed to take the seams in a bit over the top of my bust because I was getting a weird armour-plated effect there. I also pinched a tiny bit out of the front neckline which gives it more of a tank-top shape than it did previously, but otherwise the alterations I made to the pattern when I first sewed it in June stayed the same.


Back view! I love the scoop back on this pattern, I think it is such a pretty feature and it's something I'm always a sucker for in sewing patterns. I know I go on about how I don't like photos of my back - and dudes, I seriously don't, because I look so stupid - but I don't hate my actual back.

Here I am looking thoughtfully off into the distance, thinking about how stupid my back looks... no, seriously, I was probably thinking about what we were going to be having for dinner.

The absolute riot of colours in the print means I could probably wear this dress with most of the shoes in my wardrobe - as well as all the reds and blues, there are also pinks and greens and even black in the mix. Still, both times I've worn this dress since making it, I have paired it with these lovely royal blue heels - I think it's maybe that I enjoy the whimsy of wearing a bow-printed dress with actual bows.

I am such a dick.


But you knew that anyway, didn't you?

Not too much else to say about this dress, really. Only that it's probably not suitable for eating a large meal in - that seamed skirt probably wouldn't have room for a big burrito, for example. But I'd imagine that it's very good for dancing in...

Let's all go to a... taco show!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Today it's difficult day for me at coffee shop, there is new stock coming and I have to cut the carrot cake.

Hello my lovelies! I hope everyone is having a happy weekend. It's all good here - I have had a restful day of eating cake and sewing, which are two of my favourite things to do! Tonight Nic and I are off to look after my friend Lucy's totally brilliant children, which should mean at least an hour of playing with lego followed by a few hours of watching trashy TV. Can't be bad!

I had a pretty stressful week at work. It was the first such a stressful week in a few months and I probably shouldn't complain, but it really took it out of me! The next six months - as we enter our busiest period and my team lose two members of staff - are going to be very intense and quite difficult, I think. I'm much better at coping with stress than I have been in the past - a big part of this is the fact that I am just happier and healthier overall - but there are definitely some challenging times ahead. I predict that sewing, shoe-shopping and gin-drinking will be needed to get me through it!

Anyway, that's the old life update out of the way, eh?! Now do you want to see a dress? So. The story with this dress is that a couple of weeks ago, Verity from Miss Gingers got in touch with me to say that she had been getting a lot of traffic from my post about my Green Ginger dress, which I had made from some beautiful Michael Miller fabric I bought from her store. Aaaah. I love that dress! And clearly so do some of you guys! Anyway, as a thank you she offered to send me my choice of fabric from her shop. It took me ages to choose some, because it seems like she and I have very similar taste in fabric! Eventually I went for the most Roisin-y fabric I could find, this Robert Kaufman Paris print cotton:


YEAH I DID. I just can't stay away from fabrics with the Eiffel Tower on. As you can see from this image, the print also features the Arc de Triomphe and Notre-Dame. Sadly no Sacre-Coeur, but as there are lots of cute little houses and bicycles and cafe tables and suchlike, I was good with it. I spent a little time trying to figure out what to make with the fabric before deciding to go with the Sewaholic Cambie modification my lovely friend Lauren showed me - removing the waistband and only lining the bodice. 

Sonja dress - modified Sewaholic Cambie dress worn with Vivienne Westwood for Melissa shoes

This modification was only a partial success. Removing the waistband definitely did help with the overall length of the bodice. I mean, well, duh. It does hit my natural waist now, and I don't miss the waistband at all. HOWEVER, and it's a big however - this dress is too big. I don't know whether I need to size down in the bodice or whether curving those under bust darts would fix this better, but that's kind of the biggest problem with this dress. Oh - and just so you know, I had made this before I posted the Dirty Dick dress, so I couldn't apply all of the good advice you all gave me to this dress.

This dress is wearable as it is, and I have worn it a couple of times since I made it a few weeks ago. The print kept me entertained during a particularly boring meeting at work.

It was a changeable day when we took these photos - this might give you a better idea of the fitting issues in the bodice

As it stands, I think this dress is a little unflattering on me. The excess fabric in the bodice makes me look a bit shapeless and although I experimented with adding a belt to hide that fact, I don't actually like wearing belts! I will take this dress apart and take it in, though, because I love the print and it would be a shame not to wear it. I mean. I have to. It has Eiffel Towers on it!

Making this dress, it occurred to me that my love of anything Eiffel Tower themed is very much like Sonja from I'm Alan Partridge's love of London. Don't worry, though. Nic doesn't have a static home filled with toy baguettes and teddy bears wearing breton tops and berets. But actually, there are a lot of similarities between me and Sonja. We both like to play practical jokes, we both like London and we both have occasionally stressful jobs. Sadly, despite intensive searching of the internet, I can't find ANY good Sonja gifs - which I find weird, because she's wonderful. So here I am instead, doing my best impression of Sonja laughing:

When I was finished laughing, I made Nic an egg in a bap. Needless to say, I had the last laugh that time.

Okay boys and girls. I have to go and build things out of lego with some small children. Seeing as I can't provide you with a Sonja gif, I'm going to leave you with an Alan gif party. You can thank me later.




Thank you so much for the fabric, Verity! I have put my heart in the back of a Paris love taxi and told driver to go to you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I’m too tired to slap you, would you bash your face against my palm?

Heeeeeey! What's happening, everyone? I'm sitting here in my pyjamas with my head wrapped in clingfilm, eating chocolate biscuits. SUCH GLAMOUR. The clingfilm is because I have henna on my hair. It's not something I sit around and do to keep the alien thought waves out, or anything.

I use tinfoil for that, obviously.

Anyway - hope everyone is well and everything. I'm fine. Work kind of sucks this week (hence the pyjamas and chocolate biscuits at this time of the evening) but, you know, sometimes work kind of sucks. I had a lovely weekend with friends and even though it rained heavily ALL DAY on the last pre-Christmas bank holiday of the year, this just meant I got to make a dress and watch many, many episodes of The OC. So, yay?

The weekend was very cool, though. On Saturday I went to London and caught up with Janene, Amy, Marie, Katie, Emmie, Jen and a bonus Alana (who looked genuinely terrified when she ran into us all in A-One Fabrics on Goldhawk Road) to visit the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican. I won't recap the exhibition because it's finished now, and I think there are probably a lot more insightful reviews of it out there on the internet, but it was fabulous. Not least because of its size - it was over two floors and there was just so much to look at - but also because you were able to really look at the clothes as none of them were behind glass. That was brilliant - especially when in a group of fellow seamstresses - although at one point, Jen and I did set off an alarm. Just a little one, womp womp. While we were there we had cocktails in both the Gin Joint and the Gaultier Bar - I mean, when you're around other seamstresses it seems that drinking gin is basically mandatory, right?


With Marie and our Gaultier-themed cocktails. If I already look a little bit drunk it's because I was.

It really was an incredibly fun day. I talked and laughed myself hoarse, threw back more gin than was strictly necessary, and ate the world's tiniest halloumi burgers. No photos because they were gone as soon as I looked at them but holy shit. I did not take 'mini' to mean 'microscopic'.  In an uncharacteristic burst of energy when I arrived back in Leamington at 10:30pm, I joined Nic and our friends Owen and Jane in the pub and we ended up having a very late night.

Train picnic. I think this is what inspired me to power on through to the pub


Yeah. I didn't do very much on Sunday. FOR OBVIOUS REASONS. It was a lovely boozy, funny and inspiring day. I love how much fun sewing has brought into my life. It really rocks.

One of the other things that rocks about sewing is when you spot a fabric you love and you know just what you want to make from it, and you make it straightaway. This is what happened after Nic and I went to Birmingham a couple of weeks ago. On our way over on the train I commented to Nic that I probably shouldn't buy fabric as I still have a fair bit of my Paris fabric waiting to be sewed with. Also, our flat is small and I genuinely don't like to have too much of a stash waiting around on me. I can't explain it, I just don't. But then we were in Birmingham and, you know, Barry's Fabrics and the rag market were RIGHT THERE, so I bought fabric. Ah well. You can't win them all.

Nic actually spotted this fabric. It's always good to have my fabric whisperer with me! It's 100% cotton canvas, and I just loved the colours. And yeah - I guess in 2014 the print is kind of hipster nonsense but that's fine. I like it:

Hildy dress - By Hand London Flora dress worn with Swedish hasbeens heart sandals

Another Flora dress. YEAH IT IS. That lovely pleated skirt seemed like the perfect match for this weightier canvas fabric. It has basically no drape - I mean, I guess it's actually furnishing fabric - which means that the box pleats at the back of the skirt really stick out. That being said, it was easy to work with and comfortable to wear. It frayed a bit, but nothing major. I bought 1.5 metres and was able to get the whole dress out of it with a pattern placement I was happy with. All good!

Yes, my dress does have typewriters on it, and I'm pretty smug about it. Thanks for asking.

Because this fabric is so much weightier than my usual cotton, the fit on this Flora bodice is a bit different to other ones I have made. So, to give you an example, the bodice I worked from here is the same size as the one for the Lauren dress. The bodice on that dress was - and is - a little bit bigger than I was happy with. And I've actually lost weight since then (ugh, seriously not a humblebrag, by the way, because it's really not ideal). The bodice on this dress isn't tight or uncomfortable, but it just goes to show you how much difference the type of fabric you use can make to the overall fit - even when you're not talking about a difference between wovens and knits.

Anyway, it's no biggie. The dress fits well and I'm happy with that. But isn't it weird how blogging can just make you so hyper critical of everything you post? I was going to post a back view so you could see the way those pleats stick out and give me total circus-tent bum, which is actually pretty cool. But, ugh. I couldn't. Sorry, guys. To be fair, you're not missing that much.


So here's the wind catching the skirt in a pleasing way, instead.

It was raining while we were taking these photos, and it's been raining today. It's not officially autumn yet, and actually I still think we're due a late summer rebound in September (we generally seem to get a week or so of really nice weather around the time that school goes back) so I am very firmly NOT joining the OMGSQUEETIGHTSBOOTSAUTUMN club. I'm not super in to sewing autumn/winter clothes, in fairness. That being said, the slightly heavier weight of this fabric will mean it should work well late into the year. The Madarch dress I made last November from Cath Kidston furnishing fabric was a favourite in the colder weather, and I expect this one will be too. It might even look pretty cute with pink tights. But, don't talk to me about woolly tights before then, seriously. I don't want to hear it.

Get out of here with your woolly tights. IT'S AUGUST, FFS.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Is there anything to be said for saying another mass? Oh god, I love saying mass.

Yo yo yo YO. Hello my loves! This week has been going sooooo slowly for me, for some reason. How can it only be Wednesday?! I had a very busy weekend between teaching, socialising and generally running about the place, so maybe it's just that I'm in need of some time to just slob about at home.

The weather has started to turn a bit. It's chilly - by no means is it winter coat weather yet (although I have seen a lot of that this week) but the season does feel like it's starting to turn and that always sends my emotions into turmoil. That's at least partly because I really hate having to wear layers and tights and winter coats - I'll be clinging desperately to my open-toed shoes for a while yet! So tonight I'm going to show you a project I worked on a few weeks ago, when the weather was still reliably warm.

It's not a new dress - this is a refashioned dress! Now I must admit, I'm not much of a one for refashioning or altering clothes. I'm always really impressed when I see others do it, but I kind of lack the patience to do it myself. Over the last year, most of my handmade dresses from the beginning of 2013 have been gradually packed away because they're now too big. I've given some away to friends and to the charity shop, but there are a fair few that I'm very attached to and I'm slowly working my way through altering them to fit my current size. One of them is the first By Hand London Elisalex dress I made - the Feckin' Birds dress. I love the Michael Miller fabric I used to make this dress, which I bought from Fabric.com, and it's been a source of some regret to me to have it packed away. Back at the end of June or beginning of July I took it apart and refashioned it, and I'm pleased to say that it's part of my wearable wardrobe again!

Refashion alert! Feckin Birds dress, worn with Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon shoes and Ollie and Nic apple bag

So. Because the dress had sleeves and is partially lined, it wasn't really possible to alter the dress by just taking it in up the side seams. I've done this with a few other too-big dresses (both handmade and shop-bought) and while it's not the most elegant alteration it has worked really well where I have tried it. Anyway. That was a no go here. So I took the whole thing apart and started again, kind of from scratch. I decided that, beautiful and all as the sleeves are - and man, I was SO proud of them at the time - that this dress was going to get more wear as a sleeveless dress. So I re-sewed the bodice and the bodice lining, and attached them using the old burrito method so it was all neat and tidy. I thought I'd try something a bit different with the skirt and, rather than recreating the box pleats, I gently gathered the skirt. It's still tulip-shaped - which you can see more evidently in real life than in these photos - but it has a slightly different look to it now. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about how successful this change was because it does blouse out a little bit and it probably could be more flattering.

But, you know, whether or not something is 100% flattering 100% of the time is really not of huge concern to me and, as it is, this skirt has lots of room for a big dinner. On the night these photos were taken, we went out for dinner and cocktails with friends, followed by prosecco and maltesers in the park, followed by champagne and sweets in our living room. It did well on all scores.


The other change I made was to take a couple of inches off the skirt. The midi length worked when the skirt was pleated, but it just looked all kinds of wrong when I gathered the skirt.

The finished article isn't perfect: it's a little boxy in the bodice because I was feeling chubby when I remade this dress, basically, and rather than re-cutting the bodice pieces using the correct size, I just sewed them back together with extra large seam allowances. It's fine - and in fact, the extra ease made this dress cool and comfortable to wear when the weather was humid - but I know it would have looked better if I had taken a slightly different route when sewing it. Still: I'm calling this a win because I loved this dress, and I'm really really glad to have it back in rotation. This fabric is still one of my favourite prints.

Rescuing this dress has inspired me with a few other too-big dresses and I have a dismantled Lobsterlex dress awaiting the same treatment, probably over the weekend. Alterations are tedious but, having spent time and money and poured love into making these dresses, it's totally worth taking the time to give them a second life.


This photo doesn't show you anything new about the dress. But Nic tried to take about 7 photos of me on these alternative steps, and I had my eyes closed in every single one. I think mainly here I was thinking about the dinner and cocktails that were ahead of me and I was blissing out about the whole thing.

Anyway - that's my refashioned dress! I can't say I'm going to get into refashioning in a big way - I find the lure of the bright, shiny and new a bit too hard to resist - but this was undeniably satisfying. I love my dress.


...me after a night on the cocktails, prosecco, champagne and fizzy laces...