Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It happened on a Sunday afternoon; on a lovely bright crisp winter's afternoon; on a perfect day for walking.

Evening everyone!

So, okay. Normally I wouldn't talk politics on the blog but I feel like I can't write a post without mentioning the outcome of last week's EU Referendum. It's been on my mind constantly since then. Like many people - 48% of those of us who turned out to vote - I am devastated by the result. I was angry, upset and scared by the racist rhetoric that surrounded the Leave campaign and I am frightened about what the outcome of the vote might mean for the UK. More immediately than that - for me, at least - I am bitterly angry about what withdrawal from the EU could mean for my home country of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland voted to remain and will be on the border - on the frontier, as David Cameron referred to it - of the EU, should the UK withdraw. And, as an Irish-identifying Northern Irish person who grew up right on the border, I am frightened about what a return to a hard border might mean for the country. I'm terrified that it could signal a return to conflict - EU law and the ability to move freely between Northern Ireland an Eire underpin the Good Friday Agreement, so that's under threat, and Sinn Féin have already issued a call for border poll: a referendum on Northern Ireland's future in the UK. You can read in more detail about the possible ramifications of withdrawal from the European Union here.

On a personal level, I am furious with the result. I'm furious that such a referendum could even take place and that seemingly nobody in Westminster thought about how the outcome could affect the people of Northern Ireland. I know that it's a small country and it's an issue that most English voters would not have considered, but English people also suffered the consequences of the troubles. Ask the people of Warrington, Manchester, Reading, Guildford, Birmingham, Lichfield, Shrewsbury, Brighton or London what the peace in Northern Ireland means to them.

I grew up in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, which is on the border between Northern Ireland and Eire. For all of my childhood, this was a heavily militarised border. One of my earliest memories is of Aidan McAnespie's murder by a British soldier at the border checkpoint. I was six when this happened. Aidan was the brother of classmates, a friend of my uncle's, a distant cousin. It's very hard to describe to anyone who hasn't experienced this what it was like - but, if you want to get an idea of the lasting trauma this has had on the people of Northern Ireland, read about the high suicide rates of Northern Irish people of my generation and the generations subsequent to us; the Ceasefire Babies. I am frightened and frankly fucking furious that Westminster and the people who voted Leave have put Northern Ireland at risk of conflict again. And that it was done without even a thought is the thing that makes me the most angry. The rational, intellectual part of me wants to feel ready to move on, to try to understand the people who voted Leave because they thought it would help the NHS or because they're desperate to be able to buy bendy fucking bananas, but I'm not there yet.

So, yeah. It's been a totally shitty few days and we have some seriously scary times ahead. But it's time to talk about sewing and dresses again. I need the light relief right now.

I was in London all weekend for work and took yesterday and today as time off in lieu. I haven't accomplished much - a little bit of sewing, a little bit of tidying, and that's about it. Nic and I went out for a walk in the sunshine yesterday and had business lunch at Kayal. As the sun was shining - albeit for only a few hours - I thought I would wear and photograph a dress that I made recently!

This dress was inspired in part by a beautiful dress that I saw while we were in New York. Catching the subway one day, I saw a woman buying her ticket and wearing a wax cotton maxi dress. It had a sleeved bodice with a scoop back, an exposed zip and a full, pleated skirt. She was wearing a matching headscarf and she looked so stunning that I had to run up to her and tell her that. I have a wax cotton maxi dress - my Barbès-Rochechouart Anna dress - and I wear it loads, but I wanted something with a similar shape to the beautiful one I had seen. I did a bit of investigating and it seemed that Simplicity 1610 might fit the bill:


I obviously had some wax cotton in my stash: this purple and green print that I bought last year in Paris (from Tissus Toto, where else?!)


Although my inspiration dress had sleeves, I thought that sleeves might be a bit too much on this wild print. Yes, I worried about what might be too much when I was sewing with lime green and purple cotton. Make of that what you will! But I am very happy with the finished dress:

Franklin Avenue dress - Simplicity 1610 in wax cotton. Not much point in telling you what shoes I'm wearing as you can't see them!

Admittedly, the lines of this dress are lost in this crazy print, but the skirt is very cute. It even has pockets! You can see them in the line drawings for the pattern:


I sewed a size 8 and the only adjustment I made was to shorten the bodice by an inch, which is an adjustment that I nearly always make these days. The pattern calls for the bodice to be lined, and I self-lined it. The length of the skirt surprised me - I'm very short and it was the perfect length for me! So, I would say that if you're taller than 5'1" you might want to consider lengthening the skirt.

Pockets!

I only glanced at the instructions for assembling the bodice - they're obviously pretty standard - but I did read more closely the instructions for assembling the skirt to make sure that I had the construction steps for the steps correct. It was very neat and straightforward and easy - the only slight issue that I had was wrestling the long skirt pieces to make the pleats! It wasn't difficult or anything - it's just slightly more awkward to manage when you have a lot of fabric.


Again, it's kind of hard to tell in this fabric but I really like the shape of the bodice and especially the armholes - they're angular rather than rounded and it's a lovely detail. For some reason, I think that the bodice makes me look super busty...not something to complain about, like, but still notable, I think! The other thing that I like about the bodice is the v-shaped back neckline:


Yes, so all in all, I think this pattern is a winner. I liked this so much that I straightaway made a knee-length one in another piece of wax cotton that had been hanging out in my stash. I think I like it even more than this one - and, being knee-length, it's probably more everyday wearable. A wax cotton maxi dress isn't an everyday dress, for sure, but judging by how much I've worn my wax cotton maxi Anna dress, this one will do me very nicely.


Nic loves this dress. For some reason, he's always delighted when I wear a maxi dress and I am delighted by his delight. In these dark and troubling days, a little bit of colour and delight can only help. 

Right now. I have to be up early in the morning for a meeting in London so I shall say goodnight. Until next time, friends.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

If Shakespeare had written Taken, it’d be four hours long and be mainly Liam Neeson fretting and pacing and talking to bones. That’s the basic difference between Hamlet and Taken: Liam Neeson makes up his mind.

Evening! I hope this finds everyone well. I'm suffering from the combined effects of hay fever and a head cold, feeling deeply anxious about the outcome of today's EU Referendum and still only halfway through my work week because I have to work all weekend. OH, and I have to spend tomorrow in Slough.


Despite all of this though, I'm grand and we have a big dumb movie on in the background to cheer the whole thing up. It's San Andreas - think of it as us readying ourselves for disaster. But also it's because I find stressed-out Paul Giamatti inherently hilarious, so there's that too.

So that's the craic with me. The return to real life after our holiday hasn't been too bumpy (referendum aside) and although I'm facing major changes at work - well, I'm always facing major changes at work. I'm pretty used to that by now. I'm still trying to hold onto the good holiday vibes and am mainly succeeding.

I've been merrily sewing away, which has been fun. I had a stressful and busy few months in which I didn't have a lot of time for sewing but I did buy a fair bit of fabric so my stash is as full as it has ever been. I keep it in an Ikea 'Hol' side table that doubles as our coffee table and it's almost full. It's a small stash in comparison to many, but it's what I'm comfortable with, so I am on a mission to sew my way through a good portion of it over the summer.

A good place to start was making something from one of the pieces of fabric I bought in New York - some checked poplin with a slight stretch to it that I bought from Chic Fabric in the Garment District.  It was $4 per yard and I bought two yards without any especial plan for it, and before I went back to work I realised that it needed to be made into a Simplicity 2444, so that's what I did:

Seven Worlds Collide dress - Simplicity 2444 worn with Swedish hasbeens peep-toe sandals and a vintage bag

I didn't totally love the fabric on the bolt because it felt a little bit...crunchy? The shop owner assured me that it would wash nicely and I figured that at $4 a yard I was willing to take a risk. He was right, though - it washed really nicely and all of the crunchiness disappeared. I didn't realise when I bought it that it has a slight stretch to it - a bit like the stretch sateen that I have sewed with in the past - but that worked out really well. I'm carrying a little bit of holiday chub (all of that pizza and beer... it was mostly cancelled out by all of the walking, but not totally. A few weeks of eating vegetables and not drinking beer every day will sort me out) so a little bit of stretch is very comfortable right now!


It's been a while since I've made a 2444 (maybe a year) but it was a nice, fun pattern to sew after a few weeks away from my machine. I sewed a straight size 8, with the main adjustments being the standard ones I have made in the past for this pattern, which is to sew the shoulder seams at 6/8, omit the pockets and to cut the skirt front on the fold rather than have a seam down the front of it. I also pinched out two darts in the back neckline, because it was gaping really badly - much more so than on any previous iteration of this dress. This is possibly down to the fact that the fabric has some stretch to it. 

Back view. DORP. When Nic took this he told me, "It doesn't look that wrinkled in real life!" which was reassuring. I think it looks okay though. The fitting police might put me under arrest, but no jury would convict.

I think that, right being right, I could do with shortening the bodice on this pattern. I am pretty short-waisted. I've considered it in the past for old 2444 but it looks like it might be a bit of a ball-ache because all of the bodice darts are at the waist. Eh - that's just pure laziness though, isn't it? It is, though. I can admit it. 


Yeah this bodice needs to be shortened a bit. ROISIN GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. But also, here is a closer-up view of the fabric and my Monstrous Pencil necklace, which I bought at Berylune and which I super love. I have bought, like, five of these necklaces. It's ridiculous. 

This is one of those dresses that isn't really exciting, but I am very happy with it. It's comfortable and cute and classic. It's the sort of dress that I would buy in a shop so I am sure I'll wear it loads. I've already worn it twice in the last week - once, on the day after I made it, when it was rainy...

This photo is a little out of focus but don't blame the photographer, it was raining pretty heavily!

...and I wore it today to work from home, vote, defrost the freezer and to have dinner in the park with Nic:


Right, okay, I know that pizza isn't a vegetable. It was good though.

So that's the craic there anyway. Simplicity 2444: still a winner. Such a classic. Now I'm away here. I need to give San Andreas my full attention. It has Archie Panjabi in it AND Paul Giamatti is getting pretty stressed. What's not to love?

Like, I would definitely watch a TV show of just these two guys. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I don't sleep on planes. I don't want to get incepted.

Hello everyone!


Yeaaah! So, we made it to New York and back. That's me there, at Brooklyn Bridge Park. It's probably pretty unnecessary to say that we had an amazing holiday - especially unnecessary if you follow me on instagram, as you'll have had two and a half weeks of classics like this one:


Here I am with a slice of pizza from Joe's of the village. Having sampled slices from a number of establishments, Joe's was my favourite. Nic differed slightly, favouring Sal's pizza in Brooklyn. 

I won't bore on for too long about the holiday, but here are the headlines. We stayed in an airbnb apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The neighbourhood had been recommended to us by a friend who lived there until very recently and it was absolutely brilliant. We were staying on St John's Place, between Franklin and Classon and we both became really attached to the neighbourhood - it is lively and diverse with lots of great bars and restaurants and it's right next to Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Brooklyn Museum. We were close by Franklin Avenue subway station, which allowed us to get into Manhattan on the 2,3,4 and 5 trains and we were also able to catch the B and D trains from nearby Atlantic Avenue to get into Manhattan across the Manhattan bridge.

A Brownstone in Brooklyn Heights

Neither of us had been to New York before, but of course everything is so familiar from films and TV shows so it was very easy to find our way around. As film and television people, it was super fun to turn a corner and find ourselves on the set of a film or TV programme that we love...

Such as Carrie Bradshaw's apartment...

... and the steps of the Supreme Court. I couldn't stand on the steps itself as filming was taking place on that day.

We did a few of the big tourist things to do - we went to Central Park, the Natural History Museum, the High Line and the September 11th memorial. We decided to only go to one tall building, and that was 30 Rock. It was AMAZING, and well worth paying for. We went up at 7:30pm so were able to see the city just before the sun set, at sunset and after dark.

Midtown and lower Manhattan from the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. You can see the Empire State Building and One World Trade Centre.

Just after sunset. I took this photo from inside, where we had a window all to ourselves.

We also rode the Staten Island Ferry twice. It's free and it is SO much fun. It was top of my list of things I wanted to do (I guess I've seen Working Girl a few too many times) and it did not disappoint. On our first trip we spent about an hour in Staten Island but on our second go we just got off the ferry in Staten Island and straight back on it again back to Manhattan.


Jersey City, Manhattan and some of Brooklyn seen from the Staten Island Ferry

The ferry runs all night and the next time we go to New York I'd like to take it at night. I bet that view is spectacular.

We were lucky enough to be able to meet up with some friends while we were in New York. A friend of Nic's from university lives in Greenpoint, so we met her one day for dumplings at Vanessa's in Williamsburg. Another good friend from our university days, Rod, lives in Brooklyn also so we were able to catch him in between work and moving house for breakfast at Lincoln Station. We met up with some sewing bloggers too - although at no point did I get my shit together enough to get photos! Jennifer invited us to see her Workroom Social studio, which is in Crown Heights, and we had lunch with her and Suzanne at Berg'n Beer Hall. Jennifer and her husband also took Nic and me to Flushing for dinner in Chinatown. We went to Astoria to hang out, eat Greek food and talk crap with Sonja and our very hungover selves met Marcy for ice-cream sandwiches and fabric shopping in the Garment District. Without Marcy I might not have bought any fabric at all - we didn't do a lot of shopping, really - but I'm very glad that I did. And, as ever, within moments of meeting all of these lovely ladies it was like I had known them forever. And ice-cream sandwiches are good for easing hangovers, just so you know.

Lots of the best things we did were spontaneous and low-key. We spent a fair amount of time exploring Brooklyn - man, we fell for Brooklyn in a big way - and a lot of time drinking craft beer and people-watching at various bars. One of the best and most surprisingly fun things was sitting for a few hours on a bench in East River Park watching the sun set over the Manhattan skyline:


We walked. A LOT. We averaged around eight miles a day. We drank a lot of beer and a fair few cocktails, ate a decent amount of pizza and quite a few doughnuts too. It was the best holiday. I'm back at work tomorrow and, while I'm sure that it won't take long for me to feel tired and stressed again for the moment I'm still feeling the benefit of our time away.

The Manhattan Bridge and Empire State Building. Nic had to get out into the middle of the street to take this photo!

It was good to have a bit of a holiday from sewing and blogging, as well. I didn't miss either and I had been feeling a bit...well, meh, about blogging before my break. It happens from time to time and so much had been going on in my life throughout April and May that it made me sort of lose interest in blogging. I'm still not sure where I am with it, if I'm totally honest, but it is nice to be writing now, so I guess that means I'm not ready to throw in the towel just yet! I'm certainly not tired of sewing and I do have a dress to show you that I made before we went to New York. It would be nice to have good photos of me wearing it there - I did wear it there - but I didn't get organised enough to have Nic take them. Instead I got a few photos in a brief moment of sunshine yesterday afternoon!

Kidnapped by Danger dress - New Look 6020 in 'Park Landscape' fabric from Michael Miller, won with Swedish hasbeens peep-toe sandals

Having liked the bodice of the Prospect Park dress so much, I knew that I wanted to make a version with the skirt as drafted in the pattern. I had three metres of this Michael Miller landscape fabric that I had bought from Miss Ginger so that's what I went for. Still no fan of a side zip, I made the same modifications to the pattern that I did with the Prospect Park dress - rather than cutting the centre back pieces on the fold, I cut two of each and added a seam allowance of 5/8. I used 5/8 for the seam allowances all round (rather than the 3/8 that the pattern calls for) apart from at the side seams, where I had a seam allowance of one inch.


I self-lined the bodice, as before, and I did as good as job as I could of pattern matching across the seams of the skirt. The skirt looks kind of frumpy on the pattern envelope and I wasn't that sure if I would like it. I reasoned that, even if I didn't love it, the print is so amazing that I'd still wear it. But, I really like the shape of the skirt - I think the a-line is full enough to give me the silhouette that I like but a-line enough not to be a total fabric hog. Yet again, a New Look pattern comes up trumps. I definitely want to try the other bodice variations on this pattern with this skirt.


Needless to say, I really love this fabric. There's just something so cheerful about a landscape print. I wore this dress twice when we were on holiday and felt great in it both times - although I must admit that I like it better on me now. I swell up a bit in the heat and I am very pale, so my very Irish skin looked extra Irish (blue) against the vibrant colours!

Here I am wearing it on location in New York. No, seriously - there was a film being shot in our neighbourhood. It's Todd Haynes's new film, Wonderstruck, which stars Julianne Moore. We didn't see Julianne herself, unfortunately, but it was still pretty cool!

As there is very little danger of me swelling up in the heat of the English summer, I think it's safe to say that I'll wear this dress a fair bit! Good old New Look patterns. 

Right, now I have waffled on for ages here and I want to have a drink and watch some crappy TV before real life starts again tomorrow. Until next time, folks!

Me and Nic on the Staten Island Ferry

Monday, May 23, 2016

Me, my ass double and a drill that once appeared on Home Improvement are currently starring in a feature film called Take My Hand

Hey everyone! Hello!

Life hasn't been much less chaotic since the last time I was here. Well, no, that's not strictly true. It's been slightly less chaotic but the chaos has been a little bit more organised. Work has been flying at me from every angle. I got an email on Tuesday that tipped me over the edge into having to go and have a stress-cry (the email was totally fine, too, I was just tired and totally fed up) and then I had two days of very intense meetings in London.

Aaaah. I've been working really long hours and feeling pulled in all directions. I had a big and unexpected piece of work land on my desk a couple of weeks ago on top of all of my business as usual stuff and all of the extra chaos that has been happening recently and it just about put me over the edge! The good news is that I finally cleared it today and - even better - tomorrow is my last working day before a three-week holiday. THANK FUCKING FUCK FOR THAT, LADS. Now seriously.

So, all of the delightful twitching and all that I described in my last blog post is still there and is even worse, in some ways. Ugh. But holiday time is nearly here so I'm holding on.


That's the craic with me. I've been sewing, too, so here's a dress that I made recently.

Last week I wanted to spend Saturday afternoon sewing, so I had a wee hoke around in my pattern stash and found this one that looked likely...


I have absolutely no memory of buying this pattern. None. Seriously. Don't know when or where I got it. Worse than that, when I opened it to cut the pattern I discovered that I already had cut it. It meant that past me had made present me's job easier... but, yeah. I don't know when I did that or what I was thinking when I did. Because, you know, this pattern envelope isn't as heinous as some New Look envelopes (looking at you here, NL6776) but, like, you'd hardly sew this based on that envelope. As with so many other New Look patterns, though, this is actually pretty cute - which you can see from the little polka dotty drawing of view D - so, maybe that explains it. Like I said: no memory.

I had cut it out in a size 10 - past me had - but present me's measurements more closely matched the size 8. So I did have some cutting to do - I trimmed it down and made a bodice toile. I was also experimenting with an adjustment: the pattern is drafted to have a side zip and I hate those, so I needed to add in a centre back seam allowance. Also, the pattern instructions said to sew the bodice with a 3/8 seam allowance so I wanted to check that out. The 3/8 seam allowance was no bueno, but moving the zip to the back worked. I tried the bodice out again with 5/8 seam allowances all over apart from at the side seams, where I needed to use a 1 inch seam allowance and I was good to go.

I had this pretty cute Michael Miller fabric that I had bought from Modes4U when I was having a crappy day:


The print is called Meadow Daisy and Bernie Dexter has used it in one of her dresses. I had only bought 2 metres so I didn't have quite enough to sew the panelled skirt of the pattern. I decided to make like the Bernie dress and add a gathered skirt to it. 

Prospect Park dress - New Look 6020 in Michael Miller Meadow Daisy fabric, worn with Swedish hasbeens peep-toe sandals

The gathered skirt is closer to the inspiration dress but in this small-scale print, it's definitely not the most flattering. My waist is totally lost in this photo but I promise it is actually there! 

As well as changing the skirt and moving the zip to the centre back... and all of the stuff with the seam allowances, I also lined the bodice. The pattern doesn't call for lining, but I would nearly always prefer to line a bodice than to use facings. I lined the bodice, but I used the facing pieces to cut interfacing, which I added to the shell fabric before attaching the lining. I did this because of another modification I made, which was to use the back neckline for views A and B - a v-back:


Adding interfacing helps keep the neckline from gaping. It's a trick I learned from NL6776, actually, so nice work, there, New Look patterns. Good job.

One of the things I really like about this pattern is the shape of the sweetheart neckline:


Ugh seriously guys my face is goofy as fuck these days. It's like 300% more goofy than usual. Maybe it's the stress. Or the beer. Anyway - yeah, the neckline. It's similar to the neckline from the By Hand London Kim dress, which y'all know that I love, but it's not as low-cut. It's good.

For having a pretty dorky-looking pattern envelope, this is a really cute pattern. And, like all New Look patterns, it has loads of great options. I definitely want to sew view A and - it won't surprise you to learn - I have already made another sweetheart neckline dress, but with the skirt as drafted. I made it yesterday and am saving it to wear on holiday. Here's a little peep at it though:


If you're seeing a theme here, you're not wrong.

I wore the Prospect Park dress last Sunday to go out for breakfast with Nic and then to spend some time with my lovely friend Lucy and her kids. I was pretty pleased by the camouflage opportunity it gave me...


Right now. Not only is it Monday night, but it's our second wedding anniversary today. I had to spend  it at work for reasons which are probably pretty clear, so tonight Nic and I are celebrating by drinking cava and packing. Here's one more picture though, just because I like this dress a lot.


I'll not be around for a while now because holiday. Try not to miss me too much, like. See you on the other side!

YES I AM. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

If you're going to the kitchen, could you get me two whiskey sours? One for each hand.

Hey guys! It's been nearly two weeks since I've been around - do you all still remember me? The last two weeks can only be described as chaotic. I've had some absolutely lovely days - last weekend was pretty perfect - and some super, SUPER shitty days as well. Work has been pretty horrible - after getting through something majorly bad happening a few weeks ago, something very similar happened again this week. This more recent one was simultaneously less bad and much worse, which I appreciate is difficult to explain. Anyway - for the moment, it seems to be sorted out, so that's something. I have been angry and discouraged, and pretty fucking stressed. It think that, in a weird way, I would have coped better if the issue was one that I had caused, rather than being one that I was subject to. At least then I would have the comfort of knowing that it wouldn't happen again. As it was, I got to Thursday like:


Anyway. I'm mostly feeling better now - I feel less stressed mentally, although my body hasn't quite caught up yet: I have ridiculous facial twitches (both eyes, one eyebrow and my forehead) and trembling hands. I need a holiday. Luckily, I have one coming up!

I did reach the end of the week feeling much more positive. This week was very difficult but I was able to get back to having a sense of perspective by the end of it. It's difficult not to take unfair and ill-informed criticism of your work personally. I love my job - I work hard at it and I'm good at it. I enjoy it. I'm lucky to have a job that revolves around thinking about things, being creative and solving problems - I even enjoy, somewhat perversely, all of the damn spreadsheets. So I celebrated regaining that feeling on the journey home from London on Friday night with some high-class train booze:


I've been sewing here and there - it's hard when your hands are shaking - but obviously I haven't been blogging it! I will have to try to catch up at some point. Here's a dress that I made a couple of weeks ago and wore to my friend Amy's birthday party last Sunday. It's another Butterick B5748 and longtime readers might find the fabric familiar...

Mr Pinchy dress - B5748 in lobster cotton, worn with Swedish hasbeens Merci sandals

Yessss. Lobsters! It's not the same piece of fabric that my Lobsterlex dress was made from. Having refashioned that dress once, I didn't have it in me to do it again when it became too big. Kerry alerted me to the fact that Shivani was selling a length of it on her instagram destash account, so I jumped on it. How could I not? It was time to get lobsters back into my wardrobe!

I had three metres of this awesome fabric and it's 60 inches wide - more than enough for a midi-length circle skirt. Having been so pleased with the Burning Times dress, it seemed like the obvious choice. The fit of this dress turned out a little bit different, though. This is partly because of the fabric - this is a cotton spandex blend, so it has a little bit of stretch to it. Also, I lowered the waist darts slightly as I thought they came up a little bit high on the Burning Times dress. I should have left them where they were - you can see some wrinkling under the bust - but it's no biggie.


The skirt as drafted on this pattern is pretty long - it's a vintage re-issue - so I went with the longer length this time. Swishing around in a circle skirt is so much fun and it's even more so when it is covered in lobsters. Wearing it on Sunday made me bite the bullet and order myself a Tatty Devine lobster necklace, which arrived during the week with some other things I bought on ebay...


The cornflower blue Zatchels saddle bag was brand new and ridiculously cheap on ebay - it was under £12! The anchor buttons are for another McCall's 6696 shirt-dress in the red version of the polka dot cotton sateen that I made the Encore Tricolore dress from. I like a bit of repetition, as is evident from both this blog post and also everything else that has ever been on this blog. There's a good chance that the lobster necklace will be totally invisible on the dress, or that it'll be just TOO MUCH - especially if I wear it with my lobster sandals. But, if less is more... think of how much more more will be. 

The lobsters go brilliantly with my new orange clogs of deep joy:


I think they also went pretty well with this crown, which I was briefly able to steal from the birthday girl...


So, all in all, I think that a working lobster dress is going to fit very nicely into my wardrobe. 


See? TOTALLY PRACTICAL.

Well, I'm going to go now. We're up to the end of S9 of ER and Very Bad Things are happening for Kovac and Carter in the Congo, so that kind of needs my attention. Have a good week, everyone!

Monday, May 02, 2016

Bill Oddie gave me a dressing gown as a Christmas present. He enclosed a receipt so I could take it back if I wanted to. I submitted Oddie’s receipt for tax purposes. I’m guilty as hell Lynn.

Hey guys! To my readers in the UK, happy May Day holiday! I have certainly appreciated having the day off work today, although the unseasonably cold and windy weather has meant that all I've wanted to do is chain-drink cups of tea and watch DVDs with Nic.

That, however, is exactly what has been needed. The bad week I was having last week? Well, it didn't get any better. My uncle Hugh - my dad's brother - died on Sunday night. He was 55 - a year younger than my dad - and he had been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer on 10th March this year. So, while not unexpected, his death was very, very sad. Nic and I flew home to Northern Ireland on Monday night so that we could spend time with family and go to Hugh's funeral, which was on Wednesday.

Hugh was a remarkable man. He was quiet and fair, but wickedly funny. It was desperately sad that he grew so ill so quickly but I can't help but be grateful that his illness wasn't longer. His wife, my auntie Marie, is a nurse, and she nursed him faithfully over the last few months. He died at home, with his closest family and his dog Scooby by his bed.

It's actually too sad to write any more but I am glad that Nic and I were able to be at home with my family last week. It wasn't all tears and sorrow, as we were able to spend time with my siblings and our nephews. It's hard to be sad when you're chasing imaginary dinosaurs with a hilarious toddler!

So... yes. That's been the past week. Nic and I came back to Leamington on Friday night and, while I haven't been at work, I was still in need of a long weekend! I went shopping in Birmingham on Saturday with some wonderful sewing friends and then I spent Sunday sewing. I'm back at work tomorrow, but now that we're in May our New York trip suddenly seems deliciously close - it's just over three weeks away - so there is a lot to look forward to.

I spent last Sunday sewing as a way of taking my mind off what was happening at home. I've been in the mood to sew dresses with a scoop neckline and, having toiled the Sew Over It Betty dress and experimented with the neckline on the Emery dress, I remembered that I had Butterick B5748 in my stash.


I sewed a few dresses from this pattern when I was far less experienced, and I struggled with getting the fit right - I guess this is why I had put it out of my mind. The shape of the bodice was just what I was after, though, so I pulled it out of my stash to inspect it. I decided that I needed to cut a few sizes down and to shorten the bodice by about an inch. I made a toile of the bodice, which I was delighted to find fit beautifully. I put a Christy Moore CD in the player, cut into my fabric and cracked on.

Burning Times dress - Butterick B5748 in Hill-Berg bird-print cotton poplin, worn with Swedish hasbeens Suzanne sandals

This dress is basically straight from the envelope, with the only real adjustments being that I shortened the bodice and I moved the zip. The pattern calls for a side zip but the bodice has a centre back seam, as does the skirt. I don't like side zips - I find them awkward to do up - but it's easy to have moved the zip to the centre back. I can see why it's a side zip in this pattern as the scoop is quite low, so some people might struggle to do up the zip... but I rarely find this to be an issue! Do you want to have a look at the back?


Yeah. I'm super happy with this dress. I must be, if I'm showing you a picture of my back, right?!

The fabric I used is a cotton poplin by Hill Berg fabrics, which I bought on ebay.


I sort of bought this by accident... no, seriously! I was looking for it in another colourway (the pink that I sewed an Anna dress from in 2013) and when I clicked into the listing for this shade my finger slipped on the 'add to basket' button. Laugh if you want. It genuinely was an accident! Anyway - who was I to argue? It was something stupid like £3.49 a metre so I went on ahead and bought 3 metres. I'm glad that I did because I really like the colour. In 2013, I wasn't sure what sort of birds that these are. I still don't know in 2016. Someone - I have a notion that it was Evie - told me that they are terns.  They might be hummingbirds. Whatever they are, they're a pretty colour. So sorry, so not Bill Oddie.


I wish there was more to say about this dress. It's always going to be a little bit bittersweet because of the timing of when I made it, but I daresay that won't stop me from wearing it. If we ever get a summer, it'll be lovely on hot days.


Here's a little close-up. I got some new glasses! They're Red or Dead and they're from Specsavers. I got the same frames as sunglasses last year and liked them so much that I wanted to get them as glasses. So that's what I did. I hope that they're more Janine from Ghostbusters than Dame Edna but to be honest, I'll take either.


Well, that's it from me for this evening. I have to be up ridiculously early tomorrow so a hot bath and an early night are calling to me. See you later, possums!