Saturday, January 10, 2015

I'm so gorgeous, there's a six month waiting list for birds to suddenly appear every time I am near!

YO! Hello everyone! Well, I hope we have all managed to get through the first full week back at work after Christmas (I know not all of us, but I think this describes this week for many people). I've had quite a strange week. For me personally, it's been fine, but for my family it's been a tough week for a few reasons. I was glad to get as far as the weekend and a much-needed rest. I worked at home on Friday, which was lovely. Not only did I get to spend the day working on our lovely new sofa (it's still a total novelty. I love it) but I wasn't spending the day either in a basement meeting room with no windows or in a 6th floor meeting room with no windows. January kind of sucks in my job, for the basement meeting room reasons.

Of course the weather is frightful, what with the high winds and all that. Leamington doesn't tend to suffer quite so badly on this score because the town is in a hollow, but it was still windy enough to make me call the wind a dick because my hair kept blowing into my glasses and getting caught in the hinges. I only have about 9 hairs so I can't afford to be losing them in my glasses, you know? Still, tenacious article that I am, I still ventured out to get photos of a recently completed dress for this blog. I know, I'm good, aren't I. Instead of accolades, I'll accept cash gifts or shoes.

Anyway, yeah. Photos! So, you might remember that before Christmas I said I had plans to make a shirt-dress in some Liberty 'Carline' poplin I had stashed. I did! I admit, I put it off and put it off - for a few days around Christmas it was really cold and the prospect of sitting at my sewing machine did not appeal. But, once I sat down to make it I really enjoyed it. The shirt-dress pattern in question is McCall's 6696, made famous by my girl Clare and made up in Liberty Carline by Dr Mary Danielson  and the people's sweetheart, Heather B. This dress is kind of a sewing blogger bonanza, because the fabric came as the result of a blogpost by Katie, in which she linked to an ebay seller who has great deals on pre cut lengths of Liberty fabrics. Discovering this seller - Kat's Fabrics - is both great and terrible, because it has given me a bit of a Liberty habit. In any case, when I saw a 3.5 metre length of the red Carline in poplin, I bought it without hesitation and with a shirt-dress in mind. Winner.

The dress took me two days to make because there are quite a lot of steps, and I was really into slowing down. The pattern has you do a lot of hand-sewing, although you could omit a lot of it in favour of top-stitching. I love hand-sewing, though, so I found this super enjoyable. I even hand-sewed stuff I wasn't supposed to, like the hem. Enough yakking, though, here's the dress:

Montague Terrace dress - McCall's 6696 in red Liberty Carline poplin, worn with Irregular Choice No Place Like Home heels

YEAAAAAH I LOVE IT. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy sewing this dress - I found it so satisfying to sew - I just adore the print and the feel of the poplin. I made my wedding dress from the Carline tana lawn and it is beautiful, but the poplin is possibly a more suitable weight for a shirt-dress. It is crisp and holds the pleats well, and it made sewing the collar really easy (as did Andrea's tutorial, but I think we all know that). You can bet your bum I'll be keeping my eye out for more Liberty poplin. 

The dress itself isn't perfect. I'm really happy with the finish but the fit could be better. There are a variety of options for the bodice because you can choose based on your cup size. Going by the finished measurements, I toiled the bodice in a size 10 with the smallest range of cup sizes. It's difficult to toile this dress without making the whole thing, though, because of the order of construction. That being the case, the toile didn't tell me the whole story. While I think I cut the correct size, I should have shortened the bodice. This isn't such an issue from the front, but you can see a fair bit of excess fabric through the back:


I have since sewed another one of these dresses with the bodice shortened and it has made a positive difference, but I think I could still also stand to take a little bit of width out of the back. I removed the gathers from the top of the back bodice piece, but left in some slight gathering at the small of the back. I like the effect. The excess fabric doesn't look so bad in these photos though and, to be honest, most of the time I'll be wearing this dress with a cardigan so I am really not at all fussed.

I really went all-out on the red accessories here! The wicker apple bag is from Ollie and Nic and the cardigan is by Hell Bunny

I omitted both the pockets and the belt-loops from this pattern because I can't be bothered with pockets and I don't wear belts. However, because I omitted the belt loops I did move one of the buttons so that it is in the centre of the waistband - the pattern calls for it to be placed above the middle, presumably so that there is room for a belt. Nic bought me the buttons from Pete's Sew Good in Birmingham Indoor Market, and they're red shell buttons. I love them! 


You might be able to see the buttons better in this photo of the bodice. You can also see why I was calling the wind a dick. THANKS WIND. You can also see more clearly that the bodice is a smidge too long from the excess fabric under my bust.

I can certainly see why this pattern has been so popular with so many seamstresses. It has its flaws - for one thing, I think the instructions could have been better - but it was so enjoyable to sew. The pattern pieces all fit together perfectly and I really enjoyed the different order of construction. The dress has a cute retro feel without being costumey, and it is super comfortable to wear. I will wear the shit out of this dress, fitting issues notwithstanding. You know a pattern is a winner when, immediately after finishing one, you cut out another straightaway!


It's hard to get photos in town without people staring at you - like, what is wrong with people? Cameras are not new technology! But this was the first time I had an animal photo-bomber. Nic and I went to Jephson Gardens to take these photos and this little squirrel guy was very curious about the whole operation. He was shortly afterwards joined by a pigeon.


So, all in all, I'm really happy with this dress. It ticked off a few firsts for me - although it wasn't my first shirt-dress (I made a Pauline Alice Cami dress a few years ago) it was my first time making plackets, my first time sewing a McCall's pattern and my first full shirt-dress. I think that's not too bad!

I did the largest piece of hand-sewing while watching a DVD that Nic had bought me for Christmas: a film about Scott Walker called 30 Century Man. I discovered Scott Walker as a teenager - mainly because he was such an influence on Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy - and have loved his music ever since. It was a very thoughtful gift, and a really fascinating documentary. Unlike the execrable BBC4 programme about Kate Bush that I watched last year, this film actually had some interesting insights into the man and his art - mainly because the film is largely composed of interviews with Scott Walker himself, and with people who actually have intelligent things to say. And, you know, footage of the recording of The Drift, in which you see a man punching a side of pork to make a sound for one of the songs. Stuff like that. But anyway, yeah, that's where the name of the dress comes from!

So anyway. That's the craic there. I am going to dander on here. It's Saturday afternoon and we have friends coming round later: I have some very important nothing to get done in the meantime. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, boys and girls!

I know I have put eleventy pictures of me in this post, but this one is for Nic. He insisted on taking photos with my coat on because he liked the way the colours looked together. He's quite the stylist.