Sunday, August 03, 2014

Look, if you're gonna have some sort of rap, just be careful that you don't do a drive-by.

Hello! It's Sunday afternoon and a lovely one at that. I had an unexpectedly long weekend this weekend. I brought a laptop home from work on Wednesday to work from home on Thursday and Friday, only to find at lunchtime on Thursday that the wrong power pack was in the bag! We have shared laptops, you see. Anyway - my manager suggested that I could take Thursday afternoon and Friday as leave, and that's what I did. It's been brilliant! Work hasn't been super busy for the past couple of weeks but it has been a bit tedious, and I hadn't realised how much I needed a bit of a break until I got one. I did a bit of sewing, a bit of knitting, and Nic and I had a little morning out in Birmingham on Saturday. Today we went for a ramble and picked blackberries - I'm looking forward to making crumble later. Hurrah!

Anyway, I have been a reasonably busy bee and, having finished off an unselfish sewing project on Thursday I got back to what I do best - sewing dresses for myself - on Friday. I have older unblogged projects to share but I am kind of excited about this dress I made over the weekend so it's skipped the queue. How rude! 

Last weekend when I went to Stratford with Sarah and Char, we each bought some Liberty tana lawn from Fred Winter on Guild Street. This is quite a random shop, but they do have a good selection of Liberty fabrics, and a small selection of other fabrics too. You wouldn't know it from the street, either - it just looks like your average gifts and homewards store for the upper middle-class, but if you're in the Stratford area it's definitely worth a look. It looks like maybe they sell online too but be warned if you click through to that website - it's weird and I'm not sure that it works. Anyway - they had a sale on and while I'm not usually fussed on Liberty prints (most are too ditsy and fussy for me) I have come around to the feel of the tana lawn after making my wedding dress from it. Also, I totally fell in love with one of the sale bolts - the 'Tresco' print from 2013. 

At £16 a metre it was totally reasonable. I think I got slightly more than a metre and a half as well, as the dude on the till was highly amused by the three of us and was pretty generous with the cutting. Got to love that. This print is sort of random - lots of flowers and fruit, and those palm trees - and what really drew me to is was how lush the colours are, particularly the corals and lavenders in the print.

I couldn't wait to get sewing with it, and had bought it with a view to making yet another Emery dress with it. Which is what I did, but I decided to get slightly creative with the pattern. I was inspired quite a lot by the Sew Over It Betty dress that Marie blogged this week - particularly by the v-shaped back. I have the Betty pattern in my stash, having pattern tested it, but I wasn't especially happy with the fit of the bodice on me. So I hacked the Emery bodice, which does fit.

Monkey 47 dress and Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon shoes

The process was reasonably simple. I made the same adjustments to the armholes and shoulder seams as I did for the last sleeveless Emery dress I made. I drew a diagonal line down the back bodice piece to where I wanted the zip to end, and folded it under. Boom. Now, it was slightly complicated by the fact that there is a dart in the back neckline, and I should really have pinched this out. I didn't, and I didn't muslin this either (because I'm fucking lazy) so I ended up having to sew two small darts into the neckline. No biggie on a patterned fabric, but I'll fix that when I transfer this adjustment to a new pattern piece of its own.

Nic helped me to get the fit of the back bodice right. He has a mortal fear of stabbing me or himself with pins, but he got in there and pinched out the excess fabric for me like a trouper. That's just the kind of fitting that it's too hard to do on yourself!

Otherwise, this was a totally uneventful make and I sewed it really quickly. Everything people say about tana lawn being a delight to sew with is right - it has a lovely hand, is very light and behaves well. The only issue I encountered was the zip. I had a green concealed zip in my stash - one that I had bought from the four for a pound zip rummage box from that stall in Birmingham rag market that's next to the dog food stall? Well, I thought I was being pretty cute. The zip pull broke off the damn thing as soon as I went to zip it up! That's three zips out of four from that place that broke. I should have known better. Luckily, I had another zip - a weird chartreuse one which I have no memory of buying - that fit and matched pretty well. But yeah. Cheap zips suck ass.

I should say: I didn't go rambling in these cute but impractical heels. My usual front door photo spot is too much of a sun-trap to be much good for photos on really bright days. All the detail gets washed out and you just get a bunch of photos of me squinting. This wooded little riverside walk is across the road from our flat and it had the bonus today of being basically deserted. Which is good because the last few times I've had photos taken on my street I've had passers-by gawping - GAWPING - at me as if the invention of the camera is news to them. I know I shouldn't grumble because maybe it does look strange but stopping to stare and point is just fucking rude. But you can expect to see more photos in this spot, because I really like the way they came out!

Bodice view - I really love this print!

There's not too much more to say about this dress except that I'm really happy that my little experiment worked. Having to add the darts in at the last minute wasn't ideal but it wasn't a problem - and now I have a cute v-backed bodice that fits me well. That's great because I think the Betty pattern really is adorable but this saved me from having to adjust the fit of it too much. Short-cuts FTW.  I'm thinking of using some of the fabric I bought in Paris to sew this dress with a circle skirt so, you know, watch this space!

Selfie with my photographer/seamstress' assistant/husband (yikes: still finding that word difficult to get used to!)

I'm genuinely trying not to buy too much fabric at the moment because I have a bigger stash than I'm used to right now (due to all of the shopping that I did in Paris) but I am tempted to go back to old Fred Winter and buy some more sale Liberty. I'm not a convert by any means, but this stuff is nice!

Oh! And the name. You might be wondering, where are the monkeys. There aren't any. But the print is of a Botanical garden, and as I was sewing this I was drinking my new favourite gin, Monkey 47. I bought it as a payday treat from Leamington Wine Company and was advised to try it with cranberries - I haven't yet, but I can tell you that it's delicious with tonic water, strawberries and fresh basil. Here's a monkey gif, though, just in case you were disappointed: