Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Have you seen 'Pretty Woman'? It's about a prostitute called Richard Gere.

Well lads, what's the craic? She's ninety here, as usual. You know I live a wild life.

Ha ha, no. Not really. Nic was away over the weekend and I mainly spent it knitting and watching documentaries. Oh, and being sick, because I had food poisoning, and sleeping. Food poisoning sucks at the best of times but it's especially horrid when it's cold and rainy and you're on your own. I was very lucky, though, because my friends Rick and Lauren invited me round to their house and, once I was well enough to go over there, I spent Friday night sleeping on their sofa while they periodically brought me cups of tea. I have good friends. On Sunday, I went to Coventry with some other friends to visit The Story of Children's Television. I was feeling well enough by then to eat some noodles, and to be a Dalek:


I did a little bit of unselfish sewing on Saturday, making a skirt for my friend Lucy. I don't usually do sewing for others, but Lucy is awesome and she always gets super excited when I make something for her, so it's totally worth it. She had asked for a skirt made out of the wax cotton I had made my Filthy Names dress, so that's what I made:

It was very simple to make. Lucy had given me the measurements of her favourite skirt - I asked her to measure the waistband and also the length of the skirt - and she told me that it had six box pleats across the front and six across the back. I drafted a simple curved waistband and then just box-pleated the width of the fabric for the front of the skirt and again for the back, but with a centre back seam. I used a 9 inch invisible zip and top-stitched the hem. It took a few hours to make and was very satisfying, and she loved it! I gave her all the leftover fabric so that she could make a skirt for her daughter if she wanted one. 

I was too tired to do any sewing for myself over the weekend. I'm hoping to catch up this week - I'm hoping to find time to sew a new dress to take to Paris - but, as ever, I have a few projects backed up to blog about. 

So, long-time readers might remember that a few years ago, I made a dress from some Cath Kidston home dec fabric - the Madarch dress. I loved that dress, but it doesn't fit any more and the fabric faded really badly, unfortunately. I'd been keeping an eye out on ebay for the Cath Kidston dress that inspired it, but any time one came up in my size it sold for far more than I'd be willing to pay for a secondhand dress. Also, the fit of those dresses is a little bit odd on me - the bodice is really boxy. Luckily, I found an ebay seller who was selling the lovely barkcloth that the original RTW dress is made from (rather than the cotton canvas that I made my dress from) so I bought a couple of metres. And, boom! I made a dress out of it...

Bearaigh dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress in Cath Kidston fabric, worn with Swedish hasbeens Lacy sandals

There are a couple of differences between this fabric and the canvas I made my original dress from. One is the fabric itself, which is a really soft and drapey barkcloth. It's really lovely quality and was great to work with, and it has held up really well to washing. The mushroom print differs slightly between the two, though - the mushrooms are slightly bigger and more widely spaced on the canvas than they are on the barkcloth. That's about it, though.  

For reference, this is the Cath Kidston RTW dress:

Obviously the Emery dress was the first choice to recreate this. Also, I made this dress the day after I made the 3 O'Clock in The Morning dress, when I just really felt like sewing something comforting and familiar, and that is Emery. As you can see, I added sleeves, because I could.

I think I might need to drop those waist darts a bit, though. They're coming up a bit high. But still, I love you Emery. I love this fabric too, as it is ridiculously twee. I wish I had bought more of the mushroom print range when it came out, but this is the way Cath Kidston sucks you in. Like, I love a lot of the prints but then I always sort of hate myself for buying into it. BUT I STILL DO. It's cool having found that eBay seller though - it's Pretty Chic Fabrics, in case you want to know - because now I am going to stalk them for a couple of Cath Kidston dress fabrics, if they eventually come into the shop. Like this cowboy fabric and this penguin fabric. I feel a little bit less self-hatred if I have made the dress myself. 

Twee bastard

I actually took these photos a few weeks ago, on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Nic and I went for a walk and then met some friends for happy hour in one of our favourite pubs. I think I might have been feeling self-conscious about the overwhelming tweeness so I tried to be a badass by drinking prosecco and behaving badly...

This leads to this...

Don't worry, guys. I never really fell *out* of love with pizza. I wore this dress to work yesterday and then out to dinner with Nic, but I behaved much better on both of those occasions. 

Anyway, that's the craic with me. I have stuff to do so I'm going to dander on here. Catch you later!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Oh, honey, you are not trash just because you grew up in a trailer and your mama's in prison.

HELLO! What's happening, folks? I've reached a happy end to a weird Monday - I had a bad case of the mean reds today for no reason that I can really articulate. It's weird when anxiety kicks off for no reason you can place - especially when life is otherwise good. I've been suffering from insomnia again and today I had all those other delightful symptoms - palpitations, an inability to eat, dizziness. Lucikily, I was working from home, so I was able to take it relatively easy. I'm feeling a lot chirpier now - when I finished work for the day, I spent some time finishing a dress and then Nic came home and we went out for a walk and a few drinks. When life gets like this it can be nice to have something to pull me out of it, you know?

And it's self-indulgent really because life is pretty good and I've just had a really lovely weekend. One of my big work projects hit a major milestone over the weekend, which means I can go off on holiday soon in good conscience. Amy came to visit on Friday night and we went to a gin festival hosted by Leamington Wine Company with a lovely group of friends. You might know that I'm a big fan of gin, and I have been somewhat enabled in this by Leamington Wine Company. Over the last year I've been going in on payday or thereabouts every month and buying a fancy bottle of gin - usually after a long conversation with the staff and numerous samples. When they announced they were going to be running a mini gin festival I was very excited and the night did not disappoint. We were joined by Rick and Lauren and, as well as the chance to sample a number of gins, we had dinner and entertainment provided by a DJ who thought it was a good idea to play a set that was composed of Blue Velvet, Moon River and Blue Moon - in that order, even though Blue Velvet/Blue Moon/Moon River would have made more sense!

I somehow dodged a hangover the next day - I seriously have no idea how - and we set off for a day of fabric shopping in Birmingham with Marie, Kat and Helen. I managed to go quietly wild and ended up buying a LOT of fabric and doing a lot of gossiping. Most of it is awaiting pre-washing but one piece skipped the queue - it's some Hill-Berg cotton poplin that I bought from Fancy Silk Stores (the lovely owner said to me how nice it was to see us all - "You ladies, you're always so happy") so I took a calculated risk and dodged pre-washing it to make this...

Melody dress - By Hand London Anna bodice with a pleated skirt, worn with Red or Dead shoes

Yeah. More anchors. I don't care. It's summer!

I bought this fabric in Fancy Silk Stores. I was on my way to the back of the shop to have some beautiful Liberty lawn cut (£11.99 a metre SAY WHAT) and I spotted this. I actually bought this exact fabric over a year ago after I saw this dress:

STOP THE BUS. Isn't this jaw-droppingly fabulous?! Now, in my defence, my dress is not as much of a straight-up shameless copy of Melody's dress as it might seem. She made this dress last year as part of Sew Dolly Clackett... so really my dress is a weird telescoping. Like, the human centipede of sewing blogging, only less disgusting? I don't know. Anyway - I saw some of this gorgeous fabric last summer on Goldhawk Road and bought it so that I could make a Melody-inspired dress but then I washed it with some navy cotton and the colour ran and it was ruined. RUINED. It's been sitting in the bottom of my fabric stash box ever since because I was too sentimental to get rid of it. I'm glad to be reunited with it.

I wore it with my Tatty Devine anchor necklace, which I bought when I was in Liverpool in March. It's kind of like anchor camouflage on this print! I also wore these nautical earrings...

They're little paper boats, and they're by Punky Pins! I got very dressed up for going to the pub, but in my defence, I'd been in the house on my own feeling rotten all day. This cheered me up. Also this is a reminder that I need to hit the henna because hello grey hair.

So...yeah. The dress. It's one of my staples - an Anna bodice - with a pleated skirt. I've attached pleated skirts to the Anna bodice before - I've used the skirt from Simplicity 2444 and New Look 6824. This time I went with the skirt from Simplicity 1419 and it was kind of a serendipitous combination because the pleats on the skirt front match up exactly with the pleats on the bodice. I lengthened the skirt a bit and I moved the pleats on the back of the skirt a tiny bit, but otherwise these patterns came together with the minimum of fuss.

The only other change I made to the pattern was to scoop the front neckline out a bit. I didn't want to sew the v-necked version because it didn't seem right with the stripes on the print, but I thought the slash neckline as drafted wouldn't work either. It's a minor change, but I like it. It shows off a bit of collarbone and no bra straps. To me, that's a winner. Nic's a fan too, which is always good.

This dress is pretty fitted, which is fine by me. I usually like my dresses with a minimal amount of ease around the waist because it works with the silhouette I like. It's not to everyone's taste and I must confess to daydreaming recently about trying new things. I can't get the the Xerea dress by Pauline Alice out of my head and I think it could make a very cute alternative silhouette for a summery nautical-inspired dress.

Anyway, that's the craic with this dress. It was pretty grey all day and I managed to catch a brief moment of daylight in which to take a few photos. It started to rain just as we were finishing...


By the time we got to the pub, the rain was blowing sideways. July! Still, it gave us an excuse to stay for an extra drink. Now I'm in my pyjamas and getting ready to watch an episode of The X-Files. I'm thinking some Scully side-eye will shake me out of my funk. Night, all!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

We were getting four pounds a day and all you could eat. But sure you couldn't eat all day, Garda.

HELLO! Twice in the one week, what? That's not like me, eh? But, the dinner is cooking and I got a few photos today of a recently-finished dress and I thought, why not. I'll be a badass this week.

Anyway - no craic with me. I have been working at home this week, writing and monitoring a project that is nearly finished. It's hardly been thrilling, if I'm totally honest. Still - it's better than being out of my head with work stress, but it'd be nice if it wasn't all or nothing. I haven't been sewing this week, although I did have a little surge of productivity at the end of last week, when I had one of those things where inspiration struck and nothing would do only I had to make what was in my head STRAIGHT AWAY. So I did!

I've been looking for another great maxi dress pattern. I'm still not totally convinced by Simplicity 1801, although I like the idea of it, so I had temporarily called off the search. Anyway, as I was putting on a handmade dress - the Stone Flower dress - one morning last week, I was hit with inspiration. What if I just took a skirt pattern I liked, and lengthened it to a maxi? So that's what I did...

Instant Street dress - By Hand London Kim dress bodice and lengthened skirt from Deer and Doe Belladone dress

More star-print wax cotton! You've seen this before in the shape of the Bedelia dress and the Thelma dress but I liked it so much that I bought some more of it on eBay. I actually bought this with the intention of making a shirt-dress out of it - which I may yet do as I have lots of it left over - but this dress kind of barged into the queue.

Having already paired the Kim bodice and the Belladone skirt, all I needed to figure out how to do was lengthen the skirt to maxi length. Now, I'm sure there's a proper, pattern-cutting way to do this, but here's what I did. I pinned the skirt pieces to the fabric and simply drew a line, continuing the side-seam line down to the length I wanted the skirt. There was some method to my lazy way of doing this, in that I wanted the skirt to be pretty flared, and I didn't mind the hem on the maxi dress being wider than that of the original skirt pattern.

I decided to hem the dress so that I could wear it with lower heels or with flats - but I am tempted to make another one with a few inches added to the hem so it can be worn with heels. I'm really pleased with how the dress has turned out and how the silhouettes work together. I think my maxi-fied Belladone skirt might work well with other bodices too... I can see it with a sleeveless Emery bodice or Elisalex bodice too!

I wore this today as it's really good to have comfortable but pretty clothes for working from home. It cheers me up! Nic was at home today too so we went out for a walk at lunchtime and again after work. It's really muggy here at the moment and I felt cool and serene in my dress. Okay, no, not serene. My hayfever has been really bad and the anti-histamines mess with my head, so actually I've been feeling pretty spaced out. At least I looked nice, eh? And, even though I can't see it, I was happy to know that my *white* invisible zip was actually invisible:

HO YEAH. Wrinkles c/o the sofa.

One of the features I really like in the Belladone skirt is the slash pockets on the hips. I wasn't sure if these would still work on a maxi skirt, but I think they do. Also it's handy to have somewhere to stash my tissues as I'm basically sneezing constantly right now:


That's the craic with this dress. I took an admittedly low-risk gamble (I have loads of this fabric and no immediate need for another dress) and I think it paid off pretty well. Happy days! Here's a wee out-take of me looking extremely goofy with happiness about my dress:

I genuinely can't remember what I was doing when I was captured in this moment of natural beauty and effortless elegance but I thought I'd treat you all to it.

Right now, on that note I'm off. Tonight I'm going to eat some ice-cream and watch a film. This film:

And then I will be like this...

Monday, July 13, 2015

He drank a whole bottle of champagne out of one of my pumps. My charcoal pads filtered out most of the alcohol, but he still got tipsy enough to sing me a Chuck Mangione song.

Oh HELLO! I hope everyone is grand. I'm not too bad here, even though it's a) Monday and b) extremely dreary. Things aren't too bad, though. I worked at home today and Nic and I were able to go out for a walk at lunchtime and I found something awesome in the Myton Hospice shop...

It's a tennis-themed Snoopy sheet. I thought I was mostly over novelty prints, but who am I kidding? I am going to have to make myself a little Snoopy dress. Maybe I'll even be able to wear it before the end of the tennis season. I don't often get lucky when it comes to finding fabric in charity shops, but this was pristine and too much fun to pass up. Also, I don't think Nic would have forgiven me if I had left it in the shop!

So that's the craic with me anyway. The fair is in town at the moment so on Friday night, I got to go on the waltzers a few times, and yesterday Nic and I went to Banbury with Rick and Lauren to do a town trail challenge thing. There was a genuine challenge element to it - it was a bit like a treasure hunt, but with no treasure - but it was also a good opportunity to check out some of Banbury's pubs while we dodged rain showers. It was a good day! 

On Saturday (yeah, I'm jumping around in the timeline. I'm crazy like that) Nic and I dandered about town and I took the chance to get some photos of my most recent knitted garment. Having cut my knitting teeth on Andi Satterlund patterns and worsted or DK-weight yarn, I decided it was high time to move onto another designer and a finer yarn. My friend Charlotte recommended I try out some of the yarns from West Yorkshire Spinners, as she thought I would like their Signature 'Sweet Shop' range. She was right. I did. I had a tough time choosing - I really liked the 'blueberry bonbon' colour, but I thought a yellow cardigan would be more practical, so I bought three balls of butterscotch. The pattern I had in mind was the popular Audrey in Unst by Gudrun Johnston, as this is pretty much what I go for in shop-bought cardigans - cropped, and in bright colours. I was helped along by the fact that there are so many lovely Audrey in Unst cardigans out there in blog-land - most recently, Heather B knitted a totally gorgeous green one.

The pattern is designed for DK-weight yarn and what I had was 4-ply, but I wasn't worried by this. A quick cast around the internet showed me that lots of people had knitted it in sock yarn, so I cracked on ahead. I had to size down on my needles to get gauge but otherwise it was all good. I was taking a bit of a risk when it came to choosing a size, especially as this pattern is knitted from the bottom up, but the size small worked out fine. Anyway, enough yammering. Here's my cardigan!

Audrey in Unst cardigan, worn with Emily and Fin Isobel dress

So, this cardigan is not so cropped on me. I just couldn't tell what the length was going to be like - well, I mean, I suppose I could from the schematics provided on the pattern - and this is a wee bit longer than I would normally like. However, I'm really happy with it. For one thing, I think cropping it too much would work against the lovely deep band of ribbing at the bottom. For another, I think it works with the way the fabric drapes. It's a bit outside of my standard fit-and-flare silhouette, but only a bit. It works with my dresses, and that's what's important!

Length aside, I love how this cardigan fits. I decided not to add buttons to this one because the yarn is so fine that it becomes a little bit see-through when pulled closed. I thought I'd never wear it buttoned-up, and didn't fancy sewing buttons on that would never see any use. It does fit buttoned-up though - as best as I can tell from pinning it - so the next one I knit will have buttons. 

Here's the back - I actually really like the length through the back so I'm trying to focus on that instead of my shocking bread-back! Let's have a look at the front again instead...

One of the great things about knitting this cardigan was learning a few techniques. So, as well as trying to keep my tension consistent across yards of stockinette in 4-ply yarn (something I still need to practise, yo) this was my first bottom-up cardigan. I also learned how to do a three-needle bind off (fiddly. as. fuck) and i-cord binding for the neckline. I wasn't sure how much I would like this and it was the one design aspect that was putting me off the cardigan, but on the completed cardigan I love it. I think it's really elegant and unusual, and it works so well with the pretty shetland lace on the bib. 

This picture is essentially identical to one above but I've put it in here because I've just been talking about the neckline. Isn't the neckline pretty, though?!

I thought that knitting this cardigan would take significantly longer than the cropped cardigans in heavier yarn that I learned on, but it didn't really. I had a couple of train journeys to knit it on, which helped I guess. The bit that took the longest was the twisted 1x1 rib, but you get it over with nice and early. Also, once I got into it, even that was kind of satisfying - although my poor old right shoulder didn't massively agree with that. 

Since I finished this, I've cast on another Miette cardigan - I bought some pretty blue Cascade 220 superwash for one, as I've been wearing my Dilly cardigan loads. But after that I'm knitting another Audrey in Unst in some beautiful hot pink - really hot pink this time - 4-ply Merino yarn. Fuck yeah knitting!

Both of the cardigans I have lined up will also look great with the dress I'm wearing in this post, which is an Emily and Fin dress I bought a few weeks ago. I don't often buy dresses these days, but sometimes one comes along that is just impossible to resist, and this was one of them.

The style is called Isobel and obviously I fell in love with the bright floral print. One of the things I really like about Emily and Fin dresses is that they have pretty classic shapes but with interesting details. This one has sweet little pleats at the bust and a really interesting curved waistband. It made it totally worth buying, although I did wait until I found somewhere selling it at an el cheapo price.

Anyway, that's all the craic I have this evening. I need to go and put some washing on - that Snoopy fabric needs to be pre-washed! Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, July 06, 2015

There’s something missing, something wrong. It’s like a pretty girl with short hair.

Hello everyone! Happy Monday my loves! I hope everyone has had a lovely, lovely weekend. I'm a teeny bit - a teeny tiny bit - hungover after a weekend of (relative) excess. It was nice, actually. Since I had that alcohol poisoning at Christmas, I have found it difficult to ever drink more than a few drinks at a time. That's still the case, actually, but over the weekend I found the sweet spot where I could feel pleasantly tipsy without freaking out about being drunk, and that was nice.

I had to work over the weekend which was annoying (especially when it meant dealing with rude and condescending emails) but otherwise, it was perfect. I had Friday afternoon off, which I spent in the sunshine with Nic. I sewed a toile of a dress I wanted to make and prepped my pattern pieces, and I got down to sewing on Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon I had a new dress to wear for a walk in the countryside with friends. Don't you love it when that happens?!

The pattern in question is the Sew Over It vintage shirt-dress, which I bought last week. While I was buying the pattern in their online store, I also strayed over to their fabrics section and bought a couple of metres of their anchor print chambray. I'd seen some buttons with anchors on in a local haberdashery - in fact, every time I've gone in over the last few months I've tried to find an excuse to buy them - and I finally found my reason!

This summer has sort of unofficially become the Summer of Shirt-dresses, given my ever-increasing love of McCalls 6696. I was charmed by the look of this dress, though - I was lucky enough to have had a preview of it, having seen Emmie's test version in person when we went to Fashion on the Ration exhibition at the IWM in April. I knew then that I needed to add this to my wardrobe. The anchor fabric was just a happy coincidence. You know that in the summer, I am constantly looking for ways to emulate my hero, Mayor Larry Vaughn:

I might never actually get around to making myself an anchor print blazer because, realistically, I might never wear it. I haven't got the same pizazz as old Larry here. A shirt-dress seemed like the next best thing.

Going by the finished garment measurements on the back of the pattern envelope, it was looking like I'd need to sew a size 8, but I wanted to toile it to get an idea of ease. It turns out that there is a fair amount of ease built in around the waist - fairly standard with shirt-dresses, I'd say - and I needed to take it in by around an inch overall at the waist. I did this at the side seams but I'm curious to see if it would work better by increasing the size of the pleats.

I had set aside Saturday and Sunday morning to sew this dress but ended up whizzing through it very quickly on Saturday morning, which was a very pleasant surprise. I was able to wear it that afternoon! The instructions are very thorough and I stuck very closely to them, which made sewing the notched collar a breeze. I've been lucky enough to work with Lisa and her team at the John Lewis 150 day last year and I know how knowledgable and thorough they are and this is fully reflected in the quality of the pattern instructions and the drafting. This was an absolute pleasure to sew and I'm already looking forward to sewing another one!

Larry Vaughn dress - Sew Over It vintage shirt-dress in anchor chambray, worn with Miss L-Fire 'Cherry Pop' sandals

The pattern calls for eight buttons but I bought ten, and I think I could have even done with twelve, to be honest. This is personal preference more than anything else, I think, but I would like to have added a couple more buttons towards the bottom of the skirt. Maybe this is also because I think the anchor buttons are the actual bomb. I'm going to go back and buy more to put onto a cardigan. They come in red as well. ONE IN EVERY COLOUR, LADS.

Here's my sunshine and prosecco-fuelled crazy face. We had friends with us when Nic was taking these photos so I felt a little bit self-conscious - sorry there are not closer-up photos of the buttons!

There are so many things I really like about this pattern. The notched collar is very sweet and I love the shape of the neckline. This is a pretty short and sweet summer dress so it's a little bit low-cut. When I make another one, I will have the first button a little bit higher up to preserve my modesty! I love the shape of the skirt and the way the pleats on the bodice and on the skirt create a subtle and interesting shaping. It's a really beautiful design - as is the way the shoulder seams curve to the front and join with a gently gathered seam. It's lovely!

The skirt hits me just above my knee, which is a really good length for a summer dress. My preference is usually for a longer hem but, you know, getting the knees out the odd time is fine too! I didn't manage to get any photos of the back, but the bodice fits me very well across the lower back - I usually need to shorten bodices somehow, but that wasn't the case here. The waist seam sits at my rather high natural waist, so this is something you might want to watch if you're sewing this dress for yourself.

Following on from my last post, there's something about the chambray that makes this dress feel quite 90s as well. Maybe I just have the 90s on my mind a lot at the moment - Nic and I watched two series of My Mad Fat Diary very quickly so we could watch the final episodes as they are broadcast, so I've been listening to a lot of 90s indie! Still, I guess the 90s are officially 'vintage' now, so maybe it still fits. In any case - I love this dress!

Nic has been updating his summer wardrobe and he bought this stripy t-shirt the other day. While we were waiting outside the flat for our friends to arrive, he said to me, "I look like I work on the boat you're the captain of!" Our matching outfits were accidental, but pleasing all the same.

Anyway, that's my Sew Over It shirt-dress. I'll definitely make more. I'd like to make one with sleeves and with a slightly longer skirt for when the weather is cooler. I think I'd like a polka dot one - maybe in navy - but I'll wait to see what fabric speaks to me. In the meantime, I'm going to be finding every available opportunity to wear this one. I'm nowhere near the sea, but I do have a river nearby...

I was warned, "If you fall in that river, I'm not going in after you" which, fair enough. I didn't stay up on that wall for long!

I did this, instead:

Sailors drink rum, so...

It was a good weekend. I earned this little hangover, I did. But now I need to go and medicate it with lunch and coffee, so I'll catch you all later. Bye!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Bobby and me have decided. He's going to stick vegetables up his nose. He's not going to take over the family gas station.

Hello hello! Happy Heatwave to my British readers and just, you know, happy Wednesday afternoon to all the rest of you all. I'm currently hiding out in the flat. The lovely warm weather is good and all, but I have hay fever and the constant sneezing when I'm outside is doing my head in. Happy days!

Firstly - a massive thank you to all of you who entered the giveaway for Plush Addict. I expect they're feeling pretty loved! I put all your names into a spreadsheet (you know I love a spreadsheet) and chose a number with the random number generator. Mrs O - you're the winner! I will be in touch with details.

So anyway, that's the craic there. I'm grand here, hay fever notwithstanding. I had a bit of a mad end to the week last week at work and ended up working very late on Friday night and throughout Saturday morning. Such fun. Ugh. After I finished work on Friday night I poured myself a massive gin and tonic and lay on the sofa for a while before deciding that I needed to do some sewing to clear my head. In my gin-fuelled wisdom, I thought the best thing to do try out a whole new pattern - Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity 1801.

I'm honestly not really sure what possessed me to sew this, a little bit drunk and late at night. Earlier in the week I'd had a go at another Cynthia Rowley pattern - 1607 - which ended up being a total wadder. That particular pattern is currently on time out while I decide whether it's worth making the necessary adjustments. Anyway, mostly I find that Simplicity patterns fit me reasonably well out of the packet but I guess the Cynthia Rowley patterns are drafted from a different block or whatever - it's not so straightforward with these ones. So anyway, I sewed 1801 to the point where I needed to do some hand-sewing and hem it and tried it on, and hated it. In fairness, it was very late at night and I was a few gins in. When I tried it on again the following morning and realised it could potentially be saved with a small adjustment, I didn't feel quite as annoyed. I'm thinking of this as a wearable toile. Maybe. It might yet go in the bin.

3 O'Clock In The Morning dress - Simplicity 1801 in wax cotton, worn with Swedish hasbeens braided sandals

This dress certainly turned out a bit cuter than I thought it would but, yeah, I am still pretty unsure about it. You can't really see it in this print (I'll get to the print in a minute too) but I just don't think the wide, curved waistband really suits me. I have a pretty short torso and the waistband bisects it in a weird way! The bodice and waistband ended up being too long and the on-the-fly adjustment I made to fix this was to significantly shorten the shoulder yokes, which brought the whole thing up. I think that, if I am to make this pattern again, I will want to do that and decrease the width of the waistband slightly too.

The combination of the wide, low waistband, the gathering AND the fact that I used a fairly weighty wax cotton means that there is a lot of room in the stomach area. I am definitely - very definitely - NOT pregnant, but this dress sort of makes me look like I am pregnant. In 1995. Because the fabric has a sort of 90s board shorts vibe to it, doesn't it? In the 90s, I wanted to be Clarissa but maybe I'm actually Sam:

Actually I still kind of want to be Clarissa. I thought I was immune to the current 90s revival but maybe I'm wrong about that...

I bought the fabric on Goldhawk Road in January - I think it came from Fancy Fabrics - and Nic actually picked it out. He liked it so much that I also bought it in blue. So I have 5 metres of that kicking around too that I'll have to decide what to do with! I think that I do like the fabric, though, even if it is a bit 90s in the worst way.

Nic still likes it and he really likes the finished dress. I wore it on Sunday and he kept telling me how much he liked it - partly, I think, because he didn't want me to put it in the bin! He thinks that I'm unsure about it because it's a bit different to my usual style and he might be right. I don't know. 

It's slightly more flattering from the back, maybe!

I did enjoy wearing this dress on Sunday. I think that if I can work out the fitting issues, it could be a good contender for a maxi dress pattern. I have some polka dot cotton lawn that would work well and in a softer, drapier fabric the whole preggo effect would be lessened as well. So I'll have to see. 

It was very hot on Sunday and Nic and I had a very lazy morning and early afternoon. I had a bout of insomnia at the end of last week and over the weekend so, in an attempt to give me some energy and to tire me out for later that night, Nic and I took a spontaneous walk across the fields to the Saxon Mill. I tried to get some good photos in the barley fields but it was too windy and I looked like a dick in most of them. Ah well, it was still a lovely walk!

So, considering I made this dress while stressed, slightly drunk and in the middle of the night, it turned out all right! I still needed to do a little bit of relaxing sewing, though, so on Saturday afternoon I did as Karen described, and hit up a well-loved and familiar pattern. Look out for another Emery dress on the blog - at some point when it's not too hot to put on a close-fitting dress. Not that I'm complaining about the good weather. I love it. I bought two more pairs of sandals yesterday, which brings my total up to 13657 pairs of sandals. I'm ready for the good weather to stay on indefinitely.

I'm also ready to eat enormous meals in this dress. It might not have to house a human baby but there's every possibility that it'll have to house a food baby at some point. 

Speaking of enormous meals, I must draw this to a close so that I can go out and buy supplies for a picnic dinner in the park this evening. See you all later!

Monday, June 22, 2015

You've a lovely voice. Very like Celine Dion!

Hey hey! Hello everyone! I hope you're all well - the craic here is ninety-one, as usual. I had such a thrilling work day that my line manager and I are considering making it a weekly competition to see who has completed the most tedious task that week. Luckily for me, this week I think she would actually take home the prize but it's still only Monday. There's time for me to have the arse bored off me yet, right? It's weird in my job in that the summer months are so quiet in comparison to all of the rest of the year, which... well, you have heard me complain about it before. It's not that I miss that frantic pace - I don't - but as it's how I am forced to work for most of the year, it's hard to get used to having a bit of downtime.

The good thing is that, as I'm not so horrendously busy I have a bit more energy to sew, which is really nice. As well as that, I had some completely awesome fabric to sew with - this Kokka Echino linen fabric:

Plush Addict got in touch with me a few weeks ago and offered to send me some fabric to make a dress. They've also sent me something for you guys, which I will tell you about shortly. Anyway, it's difficult to resist free fabric so of course I accepted. I spent ages browsing their frankly massive selection before deciding on this Kokka fabric, which I have wanted for ages. I've had it pinned on my sewing inspiration board on pinterest for about a year! Plush Addict sent me 2.5m so that I could make another McCall's 6696 shirt-dress. What can I say? The idea of a hipster shirt-dress was too hard to resist.

I was surprised by this fabric when it arrived. It's a cotton-linen blend and it's a heavier weight than I was expecting it to be, with a far less loose weave than I normally associate with linen. This didn't pose me any problems, but I was a little bit concerned that it might be a bit bulky when it came to making the collar and the buttonholes. I needn't have worried though. The fabric doesn't have much drape to it, but I had no problems at all when it came to making the dress.

Where I Come From dress - McCall's 6696 in Kokka fabric, worn with Swedish hasbeens heart medallion sandals

The only problem I had was one of my own stupidity. 2.5 metres turned out to be just enough to cut this dress out and I was so focused on making sure I had everything the right way up and on the straight grain (I'll often take low-risk risks with grain, but I didn't want to with linen as I really didn't want it to warp) that I didn't pay any attention to the print placement on the bodice. Which is how I ended up with stag headlights, so to speak:

Yeah. Those are some Stag Boobs, right there. Whale boobs one week, stag boobs the next. WTF Roisin.

I tried the dress on after attaching the button bands and before attaching the collar and it wasn't until then that I noticed the placement of the stags. I ran into the living room and asked Nic if he noticed anything unusual about the dress. He's a pretty observant guy, particularly when it comes to my handmade clothes, and thankfully he didn't notice the stags! This gives me reassurance that people won't be pointing and laughing in the street - well, not for this reason anyway - but of course, people reading sewing blogs are likely to notice! It's not ideal, but it could definitely be worse. It hasn't put me off the dress anyway, which is definitely one of my favourite dresses I've made this year.

Despite my initial reservations about the weight of the fabric, it turned out to be lovely to wear. Perhaps because it is a cotton-linen blend, it doesn't crease as badly as linen does, but it is cool and breathable to wear. It was gorgeous to work with too - it pressed well and didn't fray. Also, looking at the stag's cute little face made sewing this a treat. I didn't want to gather the fabric, though, as I did think it would be too hefty for that, so instead I pleated it at the lower back:

I didn't have any issues with the buttonholes, but elected not to even attempt sewing one in the collar stand, as you usually would. I mean, I'm never going to wear this buttoned up to the neck anyway. The only other way in which I deviated from the pattern was that I top-stitched the button bands rather than hand-sewing them. Nae bother.

The finished dress feels a little bit on the big side, but I think that this is because it's the style of the dress, and it's also that I'm more conscious of it because my preference is usually for slightly more fitted dresses. It might be more flattering if it were a little bit smaller, but I know that in hot and humid weather a slightly looser-fitting linen dress is going to be invaluable. I'm thinking that it's likely to be hot as balls in Paris in August, so I'm sure this dress will be really handy then.

It was a bit chillier than that on Sunday, though, so I wore it with a cardigan. Obviously.

I have one of these Hell Bunny cardigans in teal now... and it seems they they also come in navy. Cardigan Rainbow! I wore this yesterday when I was feeling a bit delicate thanks to a horrible atmospheric pressure headache. Nic and I went out for a long walk to get some fresh air (and to go to Lidl to buy cinnamon buns) and then I spent the afternoon knitting. Basically every time Nic looked over in my direction he told me how much he loved my dress, so I'm calling this one a big success. You know I'm all about the compliments, yeah?

Thanks so much to Plush Addict for sending me this gorgeous fabric. I really couldn't love the finished dress more! 

And, as I mentioned earlier, Plush Addict have also sent me something for you guys as well. I have a £25 voucher to give away to spend in their online store. The giveaway is open worldwide - Plush Addict ship internationally - and all you need to do is go and have a look on Plush Addict's site and leave me a comment to let me know what you would spend your £25 voucher on and what you would make with it. You can gain an extra entry by tweeting a link to this post - just make sure to mention me in the tweet so that I can see it! Please make sure that it's easy for me to find your contact email address in case you win.

I will keep the giveaway open until 9pm BST on Tuesday, 30th June 2015

Have fun browsing Plush Addict's massive selection. It genuinely took me ages to pick out the Kokka fabric - here are a few of the runners-up!

Makower yellow tulips poplin... this was also in the running to make a shirt-dress, but then almost every fabric is at the moment!

I love this Michael Miller chain link print cotton. For some reason it makes me think of The Crystal Maze! I think it would make a beautiful sun-dress. I'm pretty sure it's the fabric that Simplicity used for the sample dress on the envelope for the Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 1607, so you could do that with it!

Because if I like it, I want it in every colour... the Kokka Echino stag fabric in orange and purple.

Right - good luck. May the odds be ever in your favour, or something. I must go now - I have plans that involve a cocktail and the last two episodes of Mad Men. Goodnight!