I had a very relaxing yet productive long weekend. I put in some quality time with my sewing machine and made three dresses. Even more importantly, I re-traced a couple of my favourite patterns in my correct size and I took in lots of my favourite handmade dresses that were too big. I spent ages ironing most of it this afternoon, but I suppose that's the price you pay for having so many dresses. Eh. I quite like ironing though. Ironing and spreadsheets, WTF?!
So, after showing you all a By Hand London pattern hack in my last blog post, I have another one to blog this evening. What can I say? Their patterns are awesome. This dress has a nice circularity to it, too, because it was while I was chatting Charlotte and Victoria up at their stand at the Knitting and Stitching show that I met Ingrid from Beloved Fabrics. Anyway, Ingrid told me she read my blog and liked that I sew with quilting cottons, and then she offered to send me some fabric of my choice to make a dress with. Hurrah! It took me a couple of weeks of faffing to get in touch with Ingrid, and then a bit more faffing to actually choose something. I had to get my resident fabric whisperer - Nic - in to help me choose. I had gravitated straight toward the nautical section (like, duh) and went for this:
Yeah, it's not your usual nautical fabric, is it? But I was drawn to the colours - that blue is more of a minty aqua green-blue in real life - and the weirdness of the sea urchins themselves.
Ingrid very kindly sent me three metres of the fabric and my initial plan was to make another Flora dress. When the fabric arrived, I rethought somewhat. Given how well the Elisalex bodice had worked with a circle skirt in the past, I decided to combine the two and go for a Floralex! So here she is...
Blah, Blah, Fishcakes dress - By Hand London Elisalex/Flora hybrid, worn with Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon bow shoes
Hey, and I sewed the skirt on the right way up this time round. Go me! This dress was a whizz to put together. The fabric is very lovely to work with. It is definitely a bit more quilting weight than, say, an Alexander Henry cotton. There are quilting cottons and there are quilting cottons, you know. Well, that's what I'd say to the quilting cotton deniers, anyway. This isn't as drapey as some others I have worked with, but it worked really well for this pattern. The knife-pleat in the front of the skirt and the box-pleats in the back look really crisp and smart, I think.
I made a couple of minor adjustments to the bodice. I scooped the neckline out a good deal more than the pattern calls for because I wasn't sure how well I'd like this pale blue next to my face. I gave myself a bit more room in the bust by using a smaller seam allowance on the very curved bit of the princess seam. Looking at this photo there's a slight wrinkling under the bust, so maybe I should have gone back to 5/8 for that bit. But I suppose this means I have room for pizza in this dress, which is no bad thing!
Here's a wee close-up of the fabric, just for the craic
The fabric has a one-way pattern, which is arguably not ideal for sewing a circle skirt. I kind of like the way the changing direction of the stripes and the seaweed and the urchins looks a bit undulating. It's even a bit... nautical, eh?! I really like the way this is a slightly different take on the classical nautical theme, too. Finding a match for the aqua blue was a challenge for both thread and a zip, so I used white. I hemmed the skirt using turquoise bias binding. I was short on time and I popped into Harlequin Fabrics in town to see what they had and it was the best they had. They were pretty unhelpful in there too, which is a shame. I keep resolving not to shop in there any more - maybe one of these days, it will stick!
I bought these massive sunglasses last week. I had been prevaricating over them for months - I kept going into Topshop and trying them on and pouting at myself in the mirror and then leaving them behind. I finally reasoned that I'd need them on holiday. They're ludicrous and I love them.
You can rest assured that this isn't going to be the last Elisalex/Flora combination in my wardrobe. These two patterns go really well together and I did feel fabulous in this dress. I'm in the middle of knitting a cropped pink cardigan to go with it, and then I'll be all set!
Thanks again to Ingrid for so kindly offering to send me some fabric. I'm really pleased with this dress, and to have found another online shop selling pretty cottons. I'm pretty sure that after payday I'm going to treat myself to this Riley Blake cowboy fabric - it had been a choice between that and the sea urchins, and Nic ruled in favour of the sea monsters.
I'm going to head off for the evening - Nic and I have some serious Star Trek to be watching - we bought S6 of TNG on DVD over the weekend and we're up to the Birthright two-parter - but before I go, I have to let you know who won the Sew Over It Betty pattern I was giving away. I was originally giving away one copy of this lovely pattern but the postman came bearing a second one today - a reprint, due to a minor error on the envelope - so I can give away two! TWO ARMADILLOS! The winners are French Fancy and Elise of Foof and Faff. Guys, drop me an email to email@example.com and I'll pop the patterns in the post to you. Now. Worf is about to find out what really happened at Khitomer, so I'd better go...
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