Wednesday, May 24, 2017

If I'm going to be white, don't make me be Irish. That's the worst one.

Hello! I actually started drafting this post earlier in the week, before the horrific attack on Manchester on Monday night. It does feel frivolous in one way to be posting about shoes and dresses and holidays but it's important to. The attack on the Arianna Grande concert targeted young women. It was a violent act of misogyny and regardless of any other political or religious motive, I think it's important to note that this was an attack on the freedom of women everywhere. It is an attack on our freedom to be in public spaces.

So anyway - here I am talking about dresses and shoes again.  I'm on major holiday countdown now with only one more work day to go before I'm on leave. The sun has finally decided to put in an appearance here in Leamington and the forecast is looking good for Paris, so it's becoming pretty exciting!

Again, it's been an exhausting few weeks, but I think things are turning around. I've finally appointed someone to fill the vacancy in my team and I'm really pleased about it. It hasn't been without its difficulties but I'm so happy that I won't be doing two jobs any more. I've managed but I'm looking forward to being able to achieve the things I want to in my main job - things I've had to put on hold for the past five months. So that's good. It's been a challenging time but I've learned a lot from it.

I've had other fun - and far less fun - things going on in life recently too, including meeting up with sewing friends. I was really pleased to have the change to hang out with Tasha, Mel and a few other sewing buddies last month - I didn't manage to buy any fabric that day, but I did drink some cocktails and really, that's just as good.

See anyone you know?!

I was working in London last weekend and had dinner in South Kensington with some sewing friends on the Saturday night. There is no photographic evidence, sadly, because we made a very attractively-dressed bunch! Over the last few years I have sort of been shying away from meeting up with sewing folk in bigger groups. I'm not sure why I lost confidence with it, to be honest, but it was good to be reminded of how much I enjoy the company of the remarkable women I've been lucky enough to meet through my hobby.

I often stay in the South Kensington area when I am in London for work - the hotels there seem to fit the work budget and it's a fun area. Until Saturday, I had never actually made it into Shaukat on Old Brompton Road. It's just as well, really. A person could lose her head in there even if she didn't like Liberty fabrics. I bought two gorgeous pieces of tana lawn that I'll probably have to wait until after my holiday to get to sewing.

This is one of the pieces, which a colleague described as 'very Ursula LeGuin'

I've been sewing away, of course, but the horrible weather had made it difficult to get projects photographed. The sun has finally started to make an appearance so I seized the opportunity and got the camera out to get some photos of a dress I made last week. For absolutely ages, I've been meaning to sew a shirt dress in wax cotton - gorgeous versions of McCall's 6696 made by Jenny of Cashmerette, Heather Lou and Reana Louise (on Instagram) were all grist to the mill. I made a B6333 with a circle skirt in some Vlisco cotton earlier this year which I still need to get proper photos of, but I still wanted a classic pleated skirt shirt-dress. Enter some lovely wax cotton, bought from Birmingham rag market last month.

I went for B6333 again because, while it isn't perfect, there's just something about that pattern that has got under my skin. And so, off I went.

Bright River dress - Butterick B6333 in wax cotton, worn with Swedish Hasbeens heart sandals

As with previous versions of this pattern, I shortened the bodice by around an inch, and I lengthened the skirt and button placket to compensate - I wanted the length to be closer to midi length. I sewed the side seams with a 1inch seam allowance. I do still want to scoop out the armholes a little bit and will do that on a future make - you can see in this photo that the fit isn't amazing there - but as far as this make goes, I'm pretty happy with it.

I bought the black and silver buttons a few years ago from a local haberdashery that has now closed down. They're the same buttons that I used on my Chronic Town dress and I think they work really well with such a graphic print.

Here's the fit through the back, which I'm really happy with

The dress came together really easily. Good quality wax cotton is very forgiving to work with - it takes to pressing very well and stitches sink into it. This particular piece has those qualities, although it is quite stiff, still. Obviously I pre-washed it, and it softened up a bit but it is still quite stiff. This works well with the quite structured nature of the dress, but I think it'll also work nicely when washing has softened it up a little further.

I wore the dress on Sunday with some new shoes:

I already have yellow clogs, and I already have a few pairs of Swedish Hasbeens heart sandals, but the heart style in the yellow colourway was one of my 'unicorn' shoes that I had a long-standing ebay saved search set up for (also on that list: heart sandals in orange, Irregular Choice 'No Place Like Home' shoes in blue, Red or Dead green glitter shoes) I was delighted to finally get a hold of a pair in my size in brand-new condition. Happy days! Three pairs of yellow clogs may seem excessive to some of you. And if that's the case - well, good for you. Yellow is basically a neutral to me and I love all of my yellow clogs. I am excited to have these ones in my wardrobe. They're so cute!

I'm very happy to finally have made my wax-cotton shirt-dress plans come true, and I may even make another one at some point.

That's the craic with me anyway. It's late in the evening and I have some final packing to do, so I'm going to mosey. A bientot, mes amies!

Me leaving work tomorrow...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

It's a salad, only bigger, with lots of stuff in it.

Hey strangers, what's happening? Yet again, it's been a while, but that's just how life is at the moment, I'm afraid. The last few weeks have been quite difficult, as my granny died on Easter Monday.

My grandparents, Francie and Molly, on their wedding day (13th July, 1954)

It wasn't unexpected, exactly. Granny fell and cut her leg last summer and it didn't heal, so in the autumn she went to a nursing home. It was actually a really nice nursing home but understandably, she hated it there - probably because she knew she'd be unlikely to go home again. The last time I saw her was when I was at home in January, and I actually knew that that it was probably the last time I would see her. She died on what would have been my granda's 87th birthday (he died in 1999) and my mum and two aunts were there with her when she died, so it was as peaceful and good a death as you might ask for. I was mostly relieved when I heard because it felt like it was her time, but of course it was heartbreaking as well. Nic and I flew home to Northern Ireland the next day, and her funeral was that Wednesday. It was a lovely funeral and it was good to have some time to spend with my family (we stayed until the Friday) but since then I have been feeling so sad that she's gone.

Me with Granny

Obviously this is totally normal, and I know that it's a good thing that she isn't suffering any more. Still, I'm sure you can understand that it's hard to accept that I'll never see her again. The moment when I lost my composure was watching her coffin leave the house, knowing that her house will never be the same again. I'm lucky to have had such a close relationship with her throughout my childhood and into adulthood, too. One of the nurses who looked after her before she went into the home told me that Granny was so proud of my sewing and pointed one of our wedding photos out to anyone who came into the house to say that I had made my dress. She love pretty, colourful clothes and was always keen to see what I had been making and wearing. We were very alike!

So anyway. Work has been as busy as ever but I'm a vaguely celebratory mood tonight, having got through one of the biggest days in our work calendar without any issues. Also, after a long and torturous recruitment process (not that long or even torturous, it just feels that way) I've filled the vacancy in my team that I've been covering since December. That hasn't been without its issues, but it'll be so good to go back to just doing the one job!

And that is some of the craic with me. But you're here for the sewing, yeah? And maybe the shoes? Here's a dress that I March, according to my instagram:

Enough Said dress - Kwik Sew 4097 in Vlisco 'Migratory Birds' cotton, worn with Swedish Hasbeens Suzanne sandals

The pattern is Kwik Sew 4097, which I bought after seeing Annie from The Enantiomer Project's version last autumn. I'd never knowingly sewed a Kwik Sew pattern before, and I don't think I would have bought this one based on the pattern envelope because, lol:
Both of the models here are giving it plenty, for sure, but like... it's not totally inspiring. Annie's version was so cute though, and the line drawings were good, so I gave it a go. The finished garment measurements put me in a size medium, but the ease on this dress is crazy. I mean... there is a lot of ease, which is not at all what the samples on the envelope cover suggest. I ended up sewing the XS with 1-inch side seams (after a toile) and, having actually lost a little weight since I made it, I had to go back last week and alter it further. So guys - if you're making this one, check the finished garment measurements and the ease given on the pattern tissue, because it is wild. Kerry recently wrote a post about ease in sewing patterns that's worth a read, by the way.

I'm really happy with the finished dress, though - it is such a cute pattern! The bodice has pleats rather than darts in both front and back, and the skirt is pleated in a really interesting way. You make a little box pleat and then a bigger box pleat over the top of it, which gives the skirt a lovely shape.

My fabric choice kind of conceals the design details because of its graphic print, but I'm sure it would look great in a solid fabric (for someone else though, obviously!) I love how it works with this print, though, which is a beautiful Vlisco wax cotton that I bought in Birmingham rag market earlier this year. I spent a bit of time figuring out how to use the fabric - the bird motif has the bird flying parallel to the selvedge, so to have the birds flying left to right, I'd need to cut it on the cross grain. After thinking about it for a while, I decided that I liked the idea of them flying up and down, although it makes the birds seem less bird-like.

I still have loads of this fabric left - I bought a 5-metre piece - so it'll be a challenge to use such a distinctive print in a different way if I decide to make another dress from it.

This photo is basically identical to the other one...oh well!

My copy of the pattern is currently on loan to a friend, but I'm definitely here for the idea of making a maxi version of it, probably in another wax cotton. You know I have a weakness for wax cotton maxi dresses and I'll be going to Paris in a few weeks, so I'll be keeping my eye out for a suitable print. The  midi length version of the skirt from the pattern envelope is basically maxi-length on me, so lengthening it won't be an issue. It's definitely made me think I need to get over the fact that I hate the name Kwik-Sew so much (seriously...the spelling makes me wince) and check out their other patterns. Once I got my head around the ridonkulous amount of ease and had made my usual adjustments, I was pretty happy with the fit and the drafting.

So that's the craic with me anyway. Thanks for hanging in there - and hopefully it won't be as long again before I'm back. Au revoir!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I like my coffee like I like my women. In a plastic cup.

Hello! Urgh... so my plan to blog more frequently has been a big fat FAIL, hasn't it? Oh well. Here I am now anyway. I'm having a short break from work for Easter, which is really good as everything has been so full-on so far this year. We don't have much planned other than relaxing and spending time with friends, and perhaps eating some tasty food and drinking some tasty drinks! I might even fit in some sewing if everything goes well.

Here's a dress that I made last month, just before Nic's birthday. It's another Butterick B6333 and I did show you a hint of it last time I posted. It's covered in beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!

How Can You Leave Me On My Own dress - Butterick B6333 with a half-circle skirt, worn with Orla Kiely x Clarks Marianne shoes

The funny thing about this dress is how totally unplanned it was. I've had the fabric chilling in my stash for a while without a specific plan for it. I'd had the yellow polka-dot buttons in my stash for about a year as well. Nic was out one evening at an event in London and the idea for this dress just popped into my mind, so I got straight down to it.

Here's the fabric up close

I popped on a record, and got sewing. The directional print didn't technically lend itself to a half-circle skirt, but I thought, you know, fuck it.

There's not too much to say really about the sewing of this dress, to be totally honest. It was very straightforward to add my own half-circle skirt and to lengthen the button placket to match. I must have bought the yellow buttons with a shirt-dress in mind because I had twelve of them - everything came together pretty nicely.

The buttons are probably too big for a shirt-dress, really. Looking at the ones you can get in shops, the buttons are usually a good bit smaller. I like these, though - they add to the overall too muchness of the dress, if that makes sense? I bought them from Wool Warehouse and they don't seem to have them any more, although they do have some heart-shaped ones, should you need buttons even more twee than giant polka dot ones. Let's be real here though, as if there is ANYTHING more twee than this dress. I MEAN.

This is the face of someone who knows she should be ashamed, but isn't.

Nic really loves this dress and, when I finished it, he insisted that I save it to wear on his birthday. It makes me happy when he's so excited about something I made, so of course I agreed. He spent the whole day making me stand up so our friends could marvel at what I'd made, which was equally adorable and embarrassing. He's too good to me.

It's not perfect, this dress - I think I could probably do with scooping out the armholes a little bit and the collar is not my finest work (although it's perfectly grand) but I like it because it's exactly the sort of dress I would buy in a shop. I've rolled back a bit on novelty prints (a bit...okay a tiny bit, probably not really so you'd notice) but this is still very much my style.

In homage to the overall too-muchness of the dress, I wore it with these honestly quite hideous Orla Kiely Clarks shoes. Having not been much of a fan of any of them when they were released, I've been won over by their ugly charm. They ARE ugly, but in a way that appeals to me. These ones are the ugliest of all and I adore them and, despite the very high heel, they're surprisingly comfortable to walk in.

Anyway. I've worn the dress a few times since I made it and I'm sure I'll wear it lots over the summer. I wore it yesterday on a day out to Winchester, where a waiter in a bar told me I looked 'bee-youtiful' so naturally enough I left him a good tip. For the lols more than anything else.

Gotta love those instagram filters amirite

I am fully loving this Butterick bodice, despite it still needing a little bit of work on the fitting, so I'm sure I'll make a few more. It's possible that nothing will match the outrageous tweeness of this dress, but that's okay. I'm getting old now so I should probably make sensible things to wear anyway. 

That's the craic with me. It's the holidays, and it's cocktail hour, so I'm off to mix a drink. Bye!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I'm clown realness.

Hello! So... my resolution to blog more often has totally fallen by the wayside, hasn't it? I can't apologise for it really either... it doesn't matter all that much. It's the way it as at the moment. I've been doing two jobs since Christmas (my job and my old job) and it is NO. JOKE. Also, more seriously, I've been struggling pretty intensely with anxiety. It's been exacerbated by work and my own over-achieveing tendencies although not caused by it - it's largely because of the state of the world at the moment. I have a very happy personal life and a happy professional life too, despite the issues, but I've still been spending most of the time feeling anxious, angry and sad. I know that it's this way for a lot of people right now, and indeed worse. I have people around me who can help me and I'll be okay. But, yes. The effect has been that blogging has felt impossible. I know this is basically what I've said in my last few blog posts: I'm like a stuck record! It doesn't make it less true, though.

Lots of things help. I bought a chocolate panettone yesterday in TK Maxx (you can't tell me I'm the only person who can't resist the random food section) and it's going to become chocolate bread and butter pudding at the weekend. We've switched off the storage heaters, opened the windows and filled the flat with daffodils, which makes it feel like spring. I've packed away my winter clothes and the opaque tights are going away this weekend too. IT MIGHT SNOW AGAIN. I might have cold toes. It's a risk I'm willing to take.

Of course, when time allows, I have been sewing. My manager sews - she's a quilter - and she reminded me during my annual appraisal yesterday that sewing is good for me and that I must make time for it. She is awesome, and she is right! So here's a dress I made a few weeks ago.

It's a shirt-dress, because that always seems like a good thing to make and wear in spring. It has anchors on it because... well, we've met. It has anchors on it because I can't help myself.

Although I've made a few McCall's 6696 dresses and a few Sew Over It vintage shirt-dresses, I wanted to try a different pattern. I was attracted to Butterick B6333 because it had the elements of M6696 that I liked: a stand collar, a pleated skirt and a separate button band but, unlike M6696, it has princess seams, a more fitted back and no waistband.

I mean look, it also has a goofy waist tie... but, let's remember New Look 6776 and its crimes against waist ties and cut this little pattern a break, hey? BECAUSE I MEAN:

I literally love this girl's face so much I can't handle it. THAT PURPLE BOW. 

Yeah that waist tie doesn't look so bad now, does it? So anyway. I digress. This Butterick shirt pattern. I made a toile of the size 10 and decided that I needed to make a couple of changes. I needed to shorten the bodice and I needed to ditch the sleeves and the pattern's collar. The collar was HUUUUUUUGE. I mean, comically huge. 

Me checking myself out in the mirror 

I don't know what to tell you. The collar looks normal enough on the pattern envelope and the pieces aren't weird-looking... it just really didn't work on me. My mum did tell me once that I have no neck, so maybe it was that? Anyway, I solved it by deciding to use the collar pieces from M6696, which were less hilariously awful on me. Away I went...

Alicia dress - Butterick B6333 in Robert Kaufman anchor chambray, worn with Swedish Hasbeens lacy sandals

The fabric is Robert Kaufman anchor chambray. I do already have an anchor-print chambray dress, why yes I do. It's the Larry Vaughn dress, and it is awesome. This is a different dress though. It's a very different dress. It's a different shark! I bought the fabric from the Fabric Godmother, and I think the buttons came from the rag market in Birmingham. 

I'm pretty happy with the finished dress. It's almost exactly what I had in mind for this fabric - the fit is quite relaxed because there's quite a lot of ease, so it'll be lovely and cool and comfortable in the summer. Usually my preference is for a more fitted style, but something more relaxed works with this fabric. It's something I find it a bit difficult to get used to, though - I look at myself in the photos and think I look really boxy and blah, but actually the dress feels great to wear. If I didn't blog, I'd probably never think twice about it.

I like the pattern a lot. I think the style lines are really cute - the princess seams for front and back meet at the shoulder seams, which is a cute touch. The fit through the back is pretty good, although I could probably benefit from a slight swayback adjustment. I like it much better than the back of M6696, which makes me feel a bit like Jerry Seinfeld.

I mean, look... it isn't perfect. But it's not this:

But I don't want to be a pirate!

Unlike M6696, the sleeves on this pattern didn't work on me at all. Actually, they weren't dissimilar to Jerry's sleeves above. You can see why from my sleeveless version, actually - it's wide across the shoulders (and there aren't separate stitching or cutting lines for sleeves/no sleeves... at least, not that I could see) so the sleeve heads started at approximately my elbows. I would need to do some redrafting if I wanted to add sleeves but, eh. Ain't nobody got time for that. Ot at least, I'm not so committed to the thought of sleeves that I'm going to spend my time messing around with them. Call me lazy if you want. I don't care.

I've since gone on to use this bodice, with some modifications, to make two other shirt-dresses. I don't have proper blog photos but here's one from instagram (although this dress will hopefully get a post of its own pretty soon). I used a half-circle skirt and it's pretty damn kitsch. I love it.


Despite the similarities between M6696 and B6333, it was worth it (for me) to buy both patterns. B6333 has already earned its keep! I have visions of lengthening the pleated skirt for a dramatic maxi dress, possibly in a rayon or a lawn. I'll just have to find the right fabric. And being real, I'm probably going to make a couple more circle skirt ones because I wore the bee one on Saturday and I felt sassy as fuck in it all day long. I really need that in my life right now.

Well anyway, that's the craic with me. I won't make promises about when I'll be back, but I am working hard at feeling better and feeling more like myself, so hopefully it won't be long. Looking at gifs of Bianca Del Rio are helping me at the moment, so I'm going to leave you with one of those. Goodnight bitches!

Monday, February 13, 2017

I’m pretty and tough, like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown.

Hello hello helloooooo! It's been a while: this getting back into blogging craic fell by the wayside a bit as January swallowed me whole. But it's February now and although it's still pretty brutally cold, I can see some signs of spring and I'm getting a little bit of breathing space again, so that's good. I found January to be a real struggle - I was exhausted all the time and my anxiety was playing me really badly, so it's a relief to finally be through it.

Anyway, sorry to moan. In amongst all of the harder things, life has still been good. I've been making time for sewing when I can - although, it's difficult to find the motivation to sew when it's cold as my sewing table is in front of a window and it's freezing there! Motivation came a few weeks ago when Alice from Fabric Yard got in touch with me and offered to send me my choice of fabric to make a dress with. I've shopped with Fabric Yard a fair bit - I enjoy dealing with a Northern Irish business, they do flat rate postage of £1 and, best of all, have a really great selection of fun fabrics. I took the opportunity to get some fabric I'd had my eye on for ages - an Michael Miller print called Atomic.

Michael Miller Atomic in turquoise*

I've actually sewed from this fabric before, although not for myself - ages ago, I made my lovely friend Lucy a B5748 from the olive colourway. She loved it and still wears it, which is a wonderful compliment. It is worth sewing for other people sometimes. Well, only sometimes.

With Lucy's dress in mind, and also partly inspired by an amazing dress that Camille made during Sew Dolly Clackett, I hatched a plan...

A Fine Romance dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress bodice with a half circle skirt, worn with Poetic Licence 'The Right Stuff' shoes

Alice sent me three metres of the fabric, which was enough to do pretty much anything I wanted with it. I had enough for a full circle skirt but recently I've been really digging how half circle skirts look, so that's what I did. The bodice is my trusty Emery bodice. I've experimented with shortening it by about half an inch. This has meant it fits a bit better at the bust, but I do need to do something about the shoulders, which now gape a bit at the neckline:

HELLO BRA STRAPS. Now to be fair, this is exacerbated a little bit by my unnatural stance - it's not nearly so evident when I'm standing a bit more normally. I should probably do a slight FBA, which  might put everything where it should be. I'll do that. Definitely.

I am pretty happy with this dress, even with the slight fitting issues. The fabric is fabulous, and I love the colour. I don't love these photos - I think the proportions of the dress are such that it will look better with higher heels. I'm really looking forward to wearing it with some orange high heeled clogs once the weather allows.

I think the colour of the dress will also look better on me when winter is over and my skin isn't literally blue any more. That will help. Can you tell that I'm pretty much over winter by now?

Okay, I'll try to stop crabbing about it being cold because it's not even all that cold really. We've had a few hours of pitifully sleety snow this past weekend and that's been it in terms of extreme weather. I shouldn't really complain. It's a nice excuse to cuddle up in my slanket** and binge-watch RuPaul's Drag Race.

Anyway, that's your lot for this evening. Goodbye!

*I was sent the fabric for free but wasn't otherwise compensated for this blog post, and the links are not affiliate links

** I don't have a slanket, sadly. I might have to get one now though.

Monday, January 23, 2017

I don't think I've ever been to an appointment in my life where I wanted the other guy to show up.

Evening everyone! You know, it's hard to know how to start blog posts these days because there is so much shitty stuff going on in the world that being all, "Hey, take a look at my dresses and shoes and stuff" seems almost too frivolous for words. It's been stopping me from blogging, to be honest, because it doesn't feel right. But stopping myself from doing things that make me feel good is no answer either, so here I am, because blogging is one of the things that makes me feel good.

It's been a rum few days, but good things have been happening too. On Friday, Nic got an email to say that a funding bid he had submitted for a major research project had been successful. This is really exciting for him and it was really good to get some positive news on an otherwise hard day. I'm really proud of him, because this sort of funding isn't easy to secure and the project is something he feels excited about. We celebrated with champagne and pizza, because that's how we roll, and it was a good end to what had otherwise been a pretty challenging week.

The sun came out on Saturday, which was lovely after a week of freezing fog, and I had a very restful weekend. It is very cold at the moment. I'm telling you this in an effort to avoid getting the inevitable "But aren't you cold?" questions at the bottom of this blog post. It is cold. It's too cold to wear the dress I'm going to blog tonight, for sure. It's going to have to wait until spring now, probably. But, we had one very unseasonably mild day a few weeks ago and I wore it then. But yeah, it is out of season and I am aware of that. Don't worry. I have many coats and I bought another pair of cute warm boots at the weekend. But here is a spring dress all the same:

Six Napoleons dress - New Look 6020 with a gathered skirt in Michael Miller 'Paris Ville' fabrc, worn with Swedish hasbeens Mimmi sandals

Aww yes. Michael Miller 'Paris Ville'. This is one of my all-time favourite prints and I made a dress from it in 2013 that was a knock-off of a Bernie Dexter dress I loved but didn't want to pay £120 for:

Here's me in the 2013 dress. I had to get photos of it indoors because there was snow on the ground. I never wore it with the beret. Full disclosure, too. I haven't read La Bete Humaine in French, either, although I have read it in English because Zola is the best. 

You can read the original blog post here. The pattern I used was New Look 6886 and I loved loved LOVED the dress. It's too big now and the fabric has faded. I wore it once last year and decided that it couldn't be part of my wearable wardrobe any more and that it needed to be archived - which is to say, I've packed it away and will keep it for sentimental reasons. I didn't think of it again until one day when I just took a notion that I wanted that print back, so I ordered myself some more of the fabric and made a seasonally-inappropriate replacement. What's the point of being able to sew if it's not to make exactly what you feel like, eh?

I couldn't find my copy of NL6886 but, to be honest, the little spaghetti straps were not the one. As I had made myself another Bernie Dexter-ish dress from NL6020 - the Prospect Park dress - I thought it would be a likely candidate. And it was!

Here I am wearing the dress with an Andi Satterlund Miette cardigan that I knit with some Malabrigo worsted yarn - I'm not sure I ever blogged this, but I knit it sometime last year.

I sewed this dress just after Christmas and I had a lovely little afternoon to myself. Nic was watching an old Douglas Wilmer Sherlock Holmes episode - The Six Napoleons - hence the name. As with the other versions of NL6020 that I've made, I mixed up some of the pattern details. The front bodice is from view D and the back bodice is from views A and B (it has a v-back, which I didn't get a photo of) and I moved the zip from the side to the centre back. I did this by not cutting the centre piece from the back bodice on the fold, instead adding a seam allowance to it. I sewed the seam allowances at 5/8 (rather than the 3/8 the pattern calls for) except for the side seams, which I sewed at an inch.

I'm really pleased with how the dress fits, and with my pattern matching along the princess seams - this is something I'd never attempted before. Not that it's difficult, but I'm still pleased by it!

The wider straps of this dress make it more wearable than the original - the straps on that were narrow and wide-set, so I mainly had to wear it with a strapless. Even despite that, it was so well-loved that I know this one will be too. I'm glad to have it back. I just need to make it through to spring! A trip to Paris is a possibility for later in the year, and you can bet your bum I'll be bringing this with me if we do go. I'm that kind of girl and I don't even care.

So look, that's the craic with me. I'm not ready to talk about the world yet, but I'm glad I came and spent some time talking about pretty dresses. Now it's time for me to mosey on, though. Nic and I have been watching The Jinx so I'm going to go and have an episode of that. Until next time, mes amies!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

I'm agorophobic. I can't even watch Groundforce.

Hola! A slightly belated happy new year, everyone! I hope you saw in the new year in the style that suited you best. Nic and I had a really lovely, relaxing break. On the 30th, we went to London as Nic had booked us a night in a nice hotel as a treat. We spent the Friday afternoon pottering around Kensington and Chelsea, which was very atmospheric in the heavy mist. On the Saturday, we started the day with a champagne brunch at Caravan before heading east to the Barbican to spend a few hours looking at the art of the vulgar.

It was as good a way as any to wave goodbye to 2016 which, like many of us, I was only too glad to do. Lots of good things happened for us in 2016 - I was promoted, Nic's book was published, we had lots of lovely trips and holidays and I gained another beautiful nephew. But it was also a hard and sad year in many ways - personal, as well as global. Like many of us, I am afraid of what 2017 has in store. I'm more angry about things than I have ever been. All I can do is to try to use that anger in a positive way, in both small ways and large.

That's about as reflective as I'm apt to get here at the moment. I have goals for 2017 but none that I especially want to share. None of them are sewing-related - but, then, this is something that has worked well for me in the past. I like sewing what I like to sew and, because I sew what I like to wear, I end up wearing it. It's pretty simple.

And, speaking of simple, here is something that I sewed recently. New Year's Day was cold and rainy but I was un-hung-over and spent the day sewing. It was a good start to the year. I finally cut into some fabric that I've been hoarding since last March - some gorgeous Cloud 9 poplin that Colette sent to me:

The print is called 'Bouquet' and the designer is Sarah Watts, in case you'd like to try to find any. Colette sent me loads of this - I think four metres - so I had lots of play with. As I wanted to make the most of the fairly large-scale print, I thought something with a circle skirt would be the way to go, so I decided to sew another Retro Butterick B5748:

Case Histories dress - Butterick B5748 in 'Bouquet' poplin from Cloud 9 fabrics, worn with Poetic Licence 'Backlash' boots

Clearly so pleased with myself/cold that I had to have my eyes closed in that photo, oh well. I've made this dress many times before so there's very little to say. This time, though, I was inspired by Amy to finally try a version with a notched neckline. 

There's not even too much to say about that - it was about as simple as it looks. I quite like it, as it breaks up the very busy print next to my face but I think it's also kind of a shame to break the print up there. In any case, I think it's a very pretty detail.

The only other change I made was to lengthen the skirt slightly, because I had enough fabric to do so. I used some bias tape to face the hem which, combined with the slightly heavier fabric, gives the skirt  some body. I'm not wearing a petticoat in these photos, although I suspect it would look pretty dramatic and fun with one underneath. It would have kept me a bit warmer, as well! I wore it like this - with shoe-boots and a hand-knit cardigan (it's the Miette, by Andi Satterlund) - to meet some friends for drinks on Bank Holiday Monday, but I'm looking forward to wearing it in the warmer weather with my yellow clogs. Or pink ones, or blue ones, or purple ones. I have lots of choices because I have lots of clogs!

So that's the craic there. It was good to finally use this fabric because it is so pretty and I love the finished dress, and also because I needed to make room in my stash box for some Vlisco fabric I bought just before Christmas:

I haven't decided what I'm doing with it yet. Something fun, I hope.

So that's my lot for the evening. I'm going to leave you here and go and maybe have a gin and tonic. Goodnight!