Thursday, August 18, 2022

They say every day's a gift, but why does it have to be a pair of socks?

 Hello! Increasingly now when I get the time to sit down and write, I get a little bit stuck on how to start. Sometimes I can't understand how I used to be able to publish a new post on here every couple of days? I must have had a lot more to say in those days, or maybe just a less effective filter.

Since I last wrote, things have been pretty good, if a little quiet. Nic and I spent a couple of days in Paris at the end of June, which was lovely. Our visit coincided with our friend Christine being there on holiday with her mum and some of her friends, which meant we were able to spend some time together. It was wonderful - usually when we are in Paris we don't know anyone and while we both speak enough French to conduct ourselves in the language in transactions, it's not enough really to socialise, you know? So it was very fun indeed to be able to have a social aspect to the holiday this time.

We stayed in the same hotel in the 17th that we stayed in when we visited in March, which is a great spot. Like the previous visit, we had a room with a balcony, which came in very handy on at least one evening when we were too hot and tired to want to go very far! We arrived just after the heatwave that France experienced in mid-June but it was still quite hot. As we had been in Paris only a few months previously, the pressure to 'do things' was off, and we just spent the time pottering around our favourite places. I did a tiny bit of fabric shopping (I bought two 3m coupons from Coupons Saint-Pierre and one length of Liberty tana lawn from Reine - hardly anywhere in Ireland sends it and Reine was selling it for cheaper than most places in the UK even, at €25 per metre) and Nic bought himself some lovely linen clothes from Monoprix, but that was about the extent of the shopping. Oh, of course, apart from the large number of snacks and vanilla rooibos teabags that I brought home from Carrefour!

We had a sunset picnic at Canal Saint-Martin on our first night, which was wonderful - champagne, bread, cheese and friends. What could be better than that?!

Hanging at the Panthéon on a hot evening after live music at the Centre Culturel Irlandais

Candyfloss skies from the Pont Neuf

Champagne on the balcony of our hotel. 

A pistachio escargot from Boulangerie du parc Monceau: my true reason for returning to Paris 

It was a huge treat to be able to go back to Paris and, apart from a slightly delayed flight on the way out we managed to avoid the travel chaos that so many others have experienced this summer.

Unfortunately, when we got back to Ireland we both got sick! Nic tested positive for covid shortly after we got home and I tested positive a few days later. Thankfully neither of us had severe symptoms. I had essentially no symptoms at all apart from feeling quite tired, although Nic was feverish for a couple of days and felt achy and tired. It felt a little surreal to catch it after all this time, although not surprising, given the surge and the fact that we chose to travel and therefore accepted the risk. Neither of us have had post-viral symptoms. It took a week or two for me to feel completely back to normal because I got a sinus infection at the end (this would usually happen to me after any illness because my sinuses are twats) but really the worst post-viral symptom was feeling extremely sad. It was like all the colour had gone out of the world. I didn't lose my sense of taste but I did completely lose my appetite and for a couple of weeks after we got better, all either of us could be bothered eating was beans on toast!

Anyway, I'm very grateful that we both had mild symptoms, a safe and comfortable place to isolate, the ability to have our groceries delivered to us and, crucially, paid sick leave so we didn't have to worry that isolating would put our jobs at risk. As I was feeling fine, I worked (from home) for the first few days of being sick but my manager encouraged me to take the time off and rest, which made a big difference. 

Thankfully the rest of the summer was an improvement! I decided to cancel the trip to London we had planned for the end of August, which I realised I had been dreading rather than looking forward to. Instead we had visits from family and friends, a few nice days out and a few days up north to stay with my parents. It's been very low key and relaxing. We've done less than we did last summer, but it's been lovely all the same.

Drinking wine at The French Paradox in Ballsbridge after work one evening. Not pictured: flying ants. It was the wrong day to drink outdoors! The wine was very nice though.

The immersive Van Gogh experience at the RDS with two of our oldest nephews, who travelled down on the bus to spend a weekend with us in July. The exhibition wasn't that good but we had a lot of fun over the weekend.

I joined Nic for an afternoon when he had a meeting in Malahide, and took a photo of this cute house on New Street.

Champagne and chips by the sea on a sunny Friday evening at Blackrock

Fanad Lighthouse - we had a day out in Donegal with my parents recently. We couldn't get into the lighthouse itself because it was full of tours, but it was so lovely outside it didn't really matter.

We bought ice-cream at the ticket office and this mural made me smile. The word 'uachtar' means 'cream' or 'the top portion' in Irish, which is why the word for 'president' is 'Uachtarán' and I love that.

Feet in the Atlantic. Not for long though, because jellyfish.

We took the scenic route home to Dublin after spending a few days up north, stopping to visit Big Tom in Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan.

We had a fun weekend with my parents in Dublin. We popped into the National Library of Ireland to see the Lego model of the building. My crappy photo doesn't do it justice: it was so cool! We were also able to visit the Reading Room in real life, which was lovely:

The Reading Room

We visited Kilmainham Gaol, which was really good! The tour was excellent. 

One of the only photos I took last weekend, when our friend Mike came to visit. This is me with a strawberry and vanilla 99 at Hank's in Glasthule.

I've been sewing a fair bit, but in an extremely repetitive way! I made a pair of trousers for Nic before we went to Paris in some wax cotton I had left from a dress I made earlier in the summer, which means we have the potential for matching outfits again! 

I made a dress for a friend earlier in the summer - a Zero Waste Gather dress by Birgitta Helmersson - although it's not quite finished, as my friend still needs to select buttons for it. I don't have photos of it but it's made in a slightly weightier chambray and has a tiered skirt. It's lovely, if quite heavy, as she wanted it in a maxi length. I opted not to follow the zero waste strategy because I think it's a nonsense in a dress that requires such a lot of fabric to start with! But I did like the fact that there are no odd-shaped scraps as it is all rectangles, and the yardage that is left over is usable. It was also an interesting exercise to work out my own cutting layout with measurements rather than pattern pieces. I like the finished dress and would consider making one for myself. 

The sewing I've done for myself has been very repetitive, which I know isn't super interesting to read about, but sure... that's how I roll. A couple of weeks ago the New Craft House released their 'Everyday Dress' pattern. I'd been waiting for this release, having spotted the dress on their instagram while the pattern was still being developed, so I immediately ordered it. I had my first experience of 'copyshop printing' with a local fabric shop, Crafty Studio. It was excellent - easy to use, a good price and incredibly fast delivery. The PDF allows you to print just the bodice and sleeves, with the option to just make the skirt from measurements rather than printing out the pattern pieces as it's just rectangles. 

The pattern calls for 4 metres of 150cm wide fabric, which is a lot! I didn't have that much of anything in my stash but I did have several 3 metre lengths of the required width, which turned out to be absolutely fine. I'm short, and because you can cut the skirt pieces to whatever length suits you, that's what I did.

I don't have any better photos of this dress, unfortunately - I wore it to the beach and it was quite windy, as you can see! 

This fabric is so cute! It was one of the 3m coupons I bought in Paris in June and I was delighted to find that even though it has a directional print, I had more than enough to make the dress. I cut a size 10 and then just sort of cut the skirt pieces according to what I had left. It ended up being bigger on me than I like - the pattern has a generous amount of ease in the design, partly to allow for the fact that you pull it on, but as I am short I felt like it swamped me a little so I took the dress in at the bodice side seams until I was happy with it. I also put a zip in the centre back rather than the keyhole fastening. This is because I prefer to zip a dress up rather than pull it on over my head. 

I really like this dress and have worn it quite a lot since I made it. The combination of the length of the skirt and something about the print calls to mind that time when Homer Simpson wears a muu-muu, I think? So I have had some thoughts about shortening the skirt portion, but so far haven't fully committed to doing this.

I was so pleased with how well it came out that I immediately made a second one, from the other 3m coupon I bought in June. I cut the bodice a size smaller this time and made the skirt shorter, but otherwise it's the same. I am fully delighted with this dress - it is so cute - and especially happy that it worked out because the fabric was an impulse purchase! I had already decided when I went back to Paris that I was only going to buy a couple of bits of fabric and I was quite specific about what I was looking for, and this wasn't one of those things, but I'm glad I went for it. I love the colours and this dress sort of replaces a really pretty checked shirt dress that I have which is now a little bit too small, so it's extra welcome! I think it will look very cute with knee-high boots for the autumn.

After the success of that checked dress I had a burning notion to make a gingham one - I have a gingham dress in a similar style from Marks and Spencer that I wear quite often and this is one of the things that attracted me to the style. Finding nice 100% cotton gingham is surprisingly hard but Beyond the Pink Door came through with some gorgeous red gingham for €10 per metre. This time, I wanted to have a tiered skirt rather than one with a ruffle - I worried the ruffle would be unbearably twee in gingham - so I worked out the lengths I wanted and away I went:

My fabulous necklace is from Autumn Aurelia

I mean, any worries I had about looking too twee clearly weren't that intense when you consider how I styled this with a big rainbow necklace but anyway. I wore this into town for an afternoon of errands and I had SO many people compliment me on the dress - at one point everyone in the (admittedly quite small) shop I was in were agreeing that it was a 'dream dress' to which I was like... yes, actually, it is!!

And then last week I made another one in the Liberty fabric I bought in Paris. I bought this Love Pop cotton lawn with the intention of making my own twist on the gorgeous Mary Benson 'Zelda' dress.

I had a pattern I was going to use for this - I bought a frankly hilarious costume pattern for a regency-style gown to find something with the square neck and empire bodice in the Mary Benson dress. But in the event I decided against it - I have a couple of shop-bought dresses with square necklines that I enjoy wearing, but I knew I'd get much more wear out of a higher neckline. Anyway, same deal as the gingham dress, and similarly an absolute dream. Being tana lawn it is extremely floaty and light, and because it's on a dark base I think it'll look really cute in the cooler weather with tights and my DM chelsea boots.

All of this is to say, it's a great pattern! I especially love the sleeves, which are my *perfect* puff sleeves - enough for there to be a bit of drama but not so puffy that I look like I'm in Anne Shirley cosplay.

It's been an intense couple of weeks of making and I'm taking a pause now as summer is almost over (officially over, actually, according to the celtic calendar) and I need to give some thought to what I might like to make for autumn. But I'm very happy indeed with my sewing so far this year. It has all been of a specific aesthetic - big and floaty and colourful - but I have been wearing the shit out of it, it's perfect for where I am in my head and in my life at the moment. So while it doesn't make for good sewing blogging, it has been making me feel really good! 

So anyway, that's the craic with me for now! Until next time!