Thursday, November 20, 2014

This leak business is symptomatic of the moral decline of this country since the fall of the last Conservative government.

Yeeeeeeooooo! Howdy folks, what's happening? All quiet on the Dolly Clackett front: I'm deeply immersed in another very intense week at work. I have a lot to cram into the next few weeks, which I've planned for, but there are a couple of unnecessary annoyances that have driven me to distraction over the last few days. Actually my stress levels are not what they might be given the circumstances - one of the things I have learned over the last couple of years is how to manage this better and I have become a bit better at not losing my temper when people are being totally unreasonable. All the same, I will be ridiculously relieved to get to Friday tomorrow, you know? I'm going to try to start the Friday festivities a little early tonight by having a long bath with a drink and a book.

So, that is the craic there. I haven't had much time for anything outside of work this week at all. It's been okay, though. Nic and I had a lovely weekend and we had our friend JP to stay with us at the start of the week too. Our friends Amy and Barney called round on Sunday night to drop off an Ikea Expedit unit to us that they no longer need, which meant we were able to rearrange our living room slightly. Nic now has his records all neatly arranged and I'm not kidding when I say that every evening since has seen him sitting on the floor to look at them and tinker with the arrangement of them.

Like this, but with a beard. He's looking at them right now, in fact.

Anyway, as I said - we had a lovely weekend. It was my friend Lauren's birthday last week and we celebrated this by going to the pub on Friday night and drinking prosecco (standard) and spending Saturday afternoon doing a treasure hunt town trail thing in Leamington. I was not at all hungover, thanks to the magic power of chips in pitta bread in chilli sauce after the pub, and it was a dry and mild day, perfect for wandering around Leamington and trying to follow the clues in the booklet. I had a new dress to wear, as well. I actually made this a couple of weeks ago but hadn't had the chance to wear it. Then, as I was falling asleep drunk and full of chips on Friday night, I had an idea of how to wear it and what to name it. Yeah I know. Laugh if you want, but I happen to think that chips are brain food.

Scarlett dress - By Hand London Kim dress worn with red cowboy boots from Office

So, the dress! This is the new pattern from By Hand London, the Kim dress. The pattern isn't quite available yet - it's being released on 29th November - but I was one of the pattern testers, so have been able to sew the dress a bit earlier. This is obviously the version with the gathered skirt. However, I omitted the pin tucks along the hem on this one. I did sew them in my test version (which I will post at some point over the next few weeks) but with a printed fabric the effect is sort of lost so I didn't bother with this one. I won't review the pattern except to say that I found very little in my testing to comment on and I believe the finished pattern will be pretty similar to the version I tested. On my first version I sewed a size 10 and had to go back and take it in along the side seams and under the bust, so for this version I sewed a size 8. The only adjustment I made was to sew a slightly larger seam allowance at the side seams and to take it up substantially at the shoulders.

I bought the fabric in A1 Fabrics on Goldhawk Road at some point last year and it's been languishing in my stash ever since. It was fairly cheap, I think it was £4.99 per metre, and I bought two metres. I was able to get this dress and some bunting for my sister out of that two metres so I'd say that was £10 well spent!

Bodice view - you can see the lovely rose print a little bit better here. Also the close up on the "eating chips in bed at 1am face" I'm sporting here

There's something about this bodice variation - with the straight neckline, rather than the sweetheart variation - that really reminds me of a dirndl. But more than anything else, it really called one TV character to mind for me: Scarlett O'Connor from Nashville.

Scarlett wears this red dress when she first performs at the Opry. I'll probably wear something similar myself for my first performance.

I actually find Scarlett to be an almost unbearably irritating character. I don't dislike her as much as I dislike her songwriting partner, Gunnar (we call him Bummer) but she's very dull. I do like her style, though. It's mostly romantic dresses with full skirts, worn with wide belts, chunky belts and work boots. It's not a look I could totally carry off (I'm not all that keen on wearing belts) but it works for her. She's annoying, but she's pretty cute. And, you know, her hair isn't even close to being on the Rayna Scale of Awesome, but I like her hair too.

So, yeah. It might be totally lame, but this outfit is inspired by a character I don't even like. My chunky cardigan is from Mango and the boots are pretty old. I bought them seven or eight years ago after watching Wonder Boys - Katie Holmes's character is pretty annoying, but she has some lovely red cowboy boots.


Obviously the fabric and general style of this dress are pretty summery, so I might not get much wear out of it until the spring. I like the way it looks with the cowboy boots and I'm sure I'll wear this combination again over the autumn, although obviously I'm looking forward to wearing it with sandals in the warmer weather.

Gratuitous out-take. Don't even know what I was doing here but I look like I'm about to fall over.

So that's the Scarlett dress. I really like the Kim pattern - once I had figured out the couple of little fitting tweaks I needed to do it's a very straightforward and quick dress to make. I sewed this dress - including hemming it by hand - one evening after work. I like a bit of fast sewing! I think there's also a lot of potential for variations - this is another lovely bodice I look forward to pairing with different skirts. All round it's a thumbs up from me for Kim!

Right-o, I have been looking at a computer since about half eight this morning. Time for me to get my gin and tonic and my book. Goodnight!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

They lie in wait like wolves. The smell of blood in their nostrils. Waiting. Interminably waiting. And then...

OH. Hi everyone! It's taken me rather longer to get around to blogging again than I meant to. This past week has genuinely kicked my ass. I've been super stressed and uptight about work. It's silly really because work is fine but for some reason this week it all got on top of me, and it ended up with a long rant and tears on Tuesday afternoon and more of the same on Wednesday. Today was much better - although I was flat out all day, it didn't seem so bad because I have tomorrow off. Hurrah! Also, yesterday afternoon after I had finished for the day, I spent a few hours sewing. That always makes me feel better. Tonight I have a lazy dinner, a film and a big glass of wine planned so I hope that will complete the job of de-stressing me!

Because of my lack of blogging time - not to mention the lack of daylight hours in which to take photos - I have once again a bit of a backlog of projects to share. Here's a dress I made a few weeks ago: my second version of the Deer and Doe Belladone dress. The one I made the summer before last is now much too big and to be honest, it was never a fantastic fit in the first place. So, I recut the pattern and cut into some printed denim that I bought in Paris in May. A Parisian pattern and fabric from Paris? MAIS OUI. SO FRENCH.

La Bicyclette dress - Deer and Doe Belladone dress in bicycle print denim, worn with Swedish hasbeens braided sandals

I've been thinking on this dress for a while and, unlike most of the rest of the fabric I bought in Paris, this fabric was bought with this pattern in mind. It's just taken me ages to get around to it! If the fabric looks familiar, you might have seen it on Lauren. I bought her a 3m coupon of this fabric too, and she made herself some Maritime shorts with it. The fabric is adorable and was such a bargain - I got 3m of 150cm wide fabric for either 10 or 15 euros and, you know, it has bikes on it!

Fabric detail with added lens flare.

The fabric itself was lovely to work with, and the Belladone pattern is enjoyable to sew. I'm not thoroughly in love with my finished dress though. This is going to sound stupid, but I think I've decided I'm not all that keen on the cut-out at the back. It doesn't help matters that, try as I might, I couldn't really get the fit of it right on my back. And you know, for those of us who suffer from Derp Back Syndrome - well, it's probably not a great idea to draw attention to how derpy our backs are!


So, okay. This dress is a little bit too tight and I really should have done a full bust adjustment. In fact, I think giving myself a little bit more ease at the side seams and a little bit more room in the bust might go some way towards addressing the fit of the cut-out. But let's be real here: I'm never going to sew this bodice again. The dress - while it wouldn't be suitable to wear out to eat a big dinner in - does fit, does comfortably zip up and I can move around in it. And I wear cardigans ALL the time - if I wear this, that back mess is going to be covered up. I'll look like this:

I rarely leave home without one of these Hell Bunny cardigans. I want them to bring them out in every colour. Get on that, Hell Bunny R&D people. Come on. 

So, you know. This is kind of a fail. It's not one I can really bring myself to feel bad about though because I can wear the dress (as long as I don't put on any weight or try to do anything too vigorous in it!) and I enjoyed sewing it. I really like the skirt and I will definitely use this in combination with some of my favourite bodices. The skirt finish is lovely too. The hem facing is very enjoyable to sew and, while I'm usually fairly meh about pockets, I like the shape of these and the topstitching finish.

This is also a (very slightly) different silhouette for me, and I do like the a-line skirt. I'm also keen to sew with some more printed denim because it's comfortable to wear and enjoyable to sew with.

I've just realised that I wore this dress with that plastic heart ring I bought in Antoine et Lilli a few years ago. This outfit is just SO PARISIAN.

So anyway. That's the Belladone dress - not totally for me. I was able to eat two different kinds of cake in it though, so it's definitely not a complete howler.

Right. A large glass of Sauvignon Blanc is calling my name. Later!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

They say that some of his ears are inside his head and when he yawns it sounds like Liam Neeson chasing a load of hens around inside a barrel.

Ah, hello! It's Bonfire night and...well, I'm not out looking at fireworks or eating toffee apples or baked potatoes, or whatever it is people do on Bonfire Night. It's not really a thing in Northern Ireland and, in my thirteen years living in England, I've never really been able to get into it. It might be partly down to the fact that I'm a great big wuss when it comes to flames of any kind. I swear that the reason I've never been a smoker is that I can't even light a match. I know. So lame.

But anyway. I'm fine with all of the above because I've had a long and reasonably stressful day at work, so putting my pyjamas on and drinking gin is ticking a lot of boxes for me right now. I'm also going to have an early night and watch Nashville, which Nic and I just got into a few weeks ago. I know, so behind the curve, but we're both really enjoying it. It's like a combination of Treme and The OC - with Powers Boothe being evil, Luke from The OC as a gay cowboy country singer and an absolutely killer soundtrack. Also, to quote every tumblr ever: OMG CONNIE BRITTON'S HURR THOOOOOOGH

I mean, fair enough. I'm finding it hard to look at your face too, Connie, because omghair etc.

So that's where I'm up to with my week. If I want to get to bed to watch Nashville I need to crack on with this post, right?

I do love trashy TV though, and a recent favourite has been NBC's Hannibal. I watched The Silence of the Lambs at an impressionable age - I think I was 12, maybe - and quickly thereafter read the book, and I have been a Hannibal Lecter fan ever since. I'm not so keen on any of the other films (and I will never have any interest in watching Hannibal Rising) but I quickly became hooked on the stylish, funny and very silly Bryan Fuller show. Also, Mads Mikkelsen. HELLO.

Sharp suit there boss

A few weeks ago Annie from The Village Haberdashery emailed me and offered to send me my choice of fabric from the shop to, as she put it, sponsor a dress. I was more than happy to oblige - the odd freebie never hurt anyone and as I have very happily shopped with The Village Haberdashery in the past, I'm happy to recommend them. I spent a happy half-hour browsing the site and went for this beautiful Echino Decoro Stag fabric in red. Due to my love of Hannibal, I've been after a stag-themed fabric for a while, and this fit the bill beautifully. Also, lookit how cute the little stags are!

Annie sent me two metres of this fabric. It's cotton with a beautifully soft and slinky hand to it - it's a bit weightier than a lawn but just as suitable for garments. Because of the chevron print and the very pretty little stags, I decided to sew a Christine Haynes Emery dress again. I'm sure it hasn't escaped your notice that I love this pattern but it really is a great canvas for a pretty print such as this. 

So anyway, here's the finished dress:

Hannibal dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress in Echino cotton*, worn with Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon shoes

I wore this outfit on Saturday to have coffee and cake with Sarah and it was still (almost!) mild enough to go bare-legged and in open-toed sandals. I have lots of red shoes but I must admit that, given the subject matter in Hannibal, I was really tickled by the idea of wearing these grotesque lip shoes with a dress named after pop culture's most famous cannibal. Small things amuse small minds, I suppose.

I don't have anything to add to the many hundreds of words I have already written about Emery and I have my fitting tweaks down to a fine art now. I did have enough fabric to make short sleeves but, as you can see, I decided not to. I thought that going to the effort to pattern match sleeves on a dress that I'll mostly wear a cardigan with was kind of a wasted effort. I did pattern match the back pieces though because even I could see it would be a hot mess if I didn't!

LOOK AT THAT! It's not completely perfect but it's damn close, and that's good enough for me. It was enough that, when I tried the dress on to show it to Nic, he exclaimed, "The pattern matching across the back is SO COOL!" which: 100 points to you, dude and also, success! I have to tell you though - I find pattern matching to be really tedious. I faffed around for ages when I was cutting the fabric out to get it right. Like, as if cutting out fabric isn't tedious enough. So, I'll do it when I can with something like this but it's not ever going to be something I'm anal about.

That also tells me that if I ever need to have wallpapering done, I need to call in the experts.

Here's a little closeup of the bodice - you know, because I usually do that.

I didn't take any photos of the inside of this dress but I lined the bodice with cotton lawn and I hand-stitched the hem. On such a busy print, a top-stitched hem wouldn't been all that visible and it would have saved me time. I really enjoy hand-sewing hems, though. It's nice to sit with a glass of wine and a trashy DVD (are you sensing a theme, here? I love TV) and put the final finishing touches on a special dress by hand.

I've already worn this dress a few times since I made it last weekend. And it's good to know that I would have something suitable to wear should I ever get invited to dinner at Hannibal Lecter's house. Although, I'm a vegetarian so I might be the Freddie Lounds at the table:

Seriously. Nic and I spent so much time watching Hannibal saying one of two things. They were "OMG SHUT UP ALANA YOU SO BORING" and "Man, I'm glad to be a vegetarian." But I do enjoy all of the cookery scenes, all the same.

I'm kind of thinking I need to make a few more Hannibal Lecter themed dresses. So maybe a Clarice Starling dress with either horses or lambs on it. A Jame Gumb dress with small white dogs on or I could do a tuck-dance screen print. Actually, that's where my inspiration ends. Maybe I should leave it at the stags. Otherwise it's just mad, right?

Anyway, thank you again to The Village Haberdashery for the very generous gift of the fabric. Thank you for making my dream of owning a Hannibal Lecter dress come true. I hope that doesn't make you guys feel too weird.

Right. Finished. I can go and watch Nashville now. Night all!

Disclaimer: The Village Haberdashery provided me with two metres of this fabric for free. I wasn't otherwise compensated for this blog post and wasn't asked for a review. I definitely wasn't asked to talk for so long about my favourite fictional serial killer. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

I guess nice just ain't my colour.

YO! It's FRIDAAAAAY! This has been one seriously long and stressful week so I am super pumped that it's finally the weekend, and finally payday. I guess someone (not me) bought too many pairs of shoes this month. So that is the craic there. This week has been pretty stressful, due entirely to some totally unnecessary work nonsense. Ugh. Not from my colleagues, but from a contractor - which makes it kind of worse. Anyway, I'll stop complaining because it's Friday now. YES.

In fairness, the week hasn't all been bad. I managed to sneak in a bit of sewing during the evenings, making my sister some bunting and making a second By Hand London Kim dress - I liked the dress I sewed to test the pattern so much I immediately wanted to make a second one. I will blog both of those once the pattern has been released, which is slated for the end of November. If you want to get a look at what the pattern looks like before then, the girls are running a pre-sale at the moment. I haven't been asked to mention that, or been compensated for mentioning it - it's just a very pretty pattern that some of you may enjoy!

This post is going to sound like a big By Hand London fangirl squee, I guess, because I'm going to show you another Elisalex dress I made recently. But I can deal if you can: I like this pattern a lot! As I mentioned in my last post, after buying the Cath Kidston 'Camden' cotton in Belfast, I decided to order a metre of the London buses fabric online the following week. Annoyingly, it's a very different beast ordering fabric online from Cath Kidston - the metre I bought wasn't very well cut and I ended up slightly short. No biggie, but it's definitely one benefit to buying it in the shop if you can. In addition, although both fabrics are listed as 'Cotton Duck', they're very different. The London buses cotton isn't nearly as suitable for dressmaking as the Camden cotton - it's much, much more loosely woven and it frayed like a bitch. Still - I think the end result is pretty cute:

83 Piccadilly dress - By Hand London Elisalex dress, worn with Irregular Choice 'No Place Like Home' heels

I made another Elisalex dress, this time with the pattern's box-pleated tulip skirt. That skirt works really well with this weight of fabric - or at least, it should. This fabric had slightly less body than I was expecting, especially after I had pre-washed it. But anyway, it does hold the shape of the skirt pretty well.

So, this dress wasn't super fun to make. As I said, the fabric really frayed when I was working with it and I was kind of irritated that it was (in my opinion, anyway) of so much lower quality than the other Cath Kidston fabrics I've worked with. But, you know, the buses are pretty cute. And also I have the pencil case with this print on it - so now I have a dress that matches my pencil case. So now that's a thing? Anyway - I think it's mostly a success. I did take photos of the innards this time. The bodice is lined, and I enclosed the skirt seams with red bias binding, and I finished the hem with it also:

Despite my reservations about the quality of the fabric, I am happy with my finished dress. I love the print and the colours, and I really like the shape of the dress. I tried on the barkcloth version of this dress that Cath Kidston sells and while I liked it fine, I didn't love it - I ended up buying the Townhouses dress that day - so I am glad I made my own.

Got to be honest - not sure what I was doing in this picture, but it does show off the shape of the skirt pretty nicely. So, in it goes!

Cath Kidston has a store on Piccadilly, but that's not what this dress is named for. I never really got to know London until I stopped teaching in 2008 and started working for the now-closed QCA. At the time, the agency was in the process of moving its office to the midlands. I was officially based in the midlands office, but many members of my team were based in the London office and I worked there once or twice a week - increasing to four days a week throughout 2010 and 2011.

Apart from a few day trips to London, I'd never really spent any time in the capital so to go from that to suddenly working there was a pretty big shift for this country mouse.  It was often a stressful time - particularly in 2010 and 2011, when I was also dealing with pretty intense anxiety issues - but I really loved working in London - at 83 Piccadilly - and I very often miss the building I worked in, the people I worked with and the organisation I worked for. I'll always cherish that time in my life, though - even with the difficult things that came with it - and I really value the confidence working there gave me when it comes to London. I still work in London occasionally - although QCA is now long-gone, I'm still working in an organisation that is split across multiple cities and with a team who are partly based in London. It's not the same, though. While I genuinely enjoy my job - in fact, in many ways I enjoy it much more than the job I had at QCA - I don't feel the same way about the organisation I work for now.

83 Piccadilly was a pretty awesome building to work in, too. The building I worked in is no longer there - it's been torn down - but it was very cool all the same. One of the meeting rooms on the ground floor was (apparently) bomb-proof. I heard rumours that there were secret tunnels underneath the building connecting it to the Houses of Parliament. It looked out onto Green Park, Buckingham Palace and was across the street from The Ritz and Fortnum and Mason, and around the corner from Bond Street. When gun salutes were fired (I think they're fired from Hyde Park) you could feel the walls of the building shake. And, kind of best of all, there was a roof terrace which was a great place to have lunch and enjoy views over the city. Working there made me love London.

Anyway, that's all very long-winded. I guess I am feeling sentimental today! Here's a picture of the bodice of the dress, just to shake things up a bit:

It kind of annoys me that this fabric has Cath Kidston's actual name on it. Like, calm the fuck down, Cath. You don't need to sign every damn thing, you know.

So that's the craic with this dress. I wore it a couple of Sundays ago to have a stroll in town. From about the middle of October, the Parade is closed off most Sundays for markets. They don't usually start being much good until closer to Christmas but all the same, it's nice to have a look around them. It was - and still is - mild enough to wear a light jacket and my ever-present cardigan with this dress:

I was really going all-out here on the twee accessories with my Ollie and Nic apple bag as well!

Right-o, that's all the jazz out of me today. My lunchtime is drawing to a close and it's time to get back to updating spreadsheets. But after that it'll be time for noodles, and wine and maybe I'll even do some sewing over the weekend! Have a great weekend, everyone.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sorry, Joan. Your sandwiches exceeded the required six centimetres in width.

Hola people, happy Friday! I hope everyone has been having a good week. This week has been pretty full-on for me at work, and until last night I was suffering from insomnia as well. I was working from home today and managed to sleep for ten hours last night (going to bed at 9:30 woot woot) so this week I've been too tired to do much of anything, basically.

Although my new job doesn't officially start until next week, I've unofficially been doing it for some time and I'm still getting used to the change. I have additional responsibilities, which I was prepared for, but actually the biggest shift for me has been the mental shift into the new job. I'm pretty conscientious at work anyway, but I've really been feeling the pressure from within to not only get things right, but to get them REALLY right. It's my inner overachiever, I guess. That bitch keeps her mouth well shut when it comes to sewing, but she never shuts up about work matters!

Thankfully, towards the end of the week I started to feel like I had a better grip on what I need to get done over the next few months so I was able to start sleeping better and feel more confident. I haven't managed to do any sewing this week but I have a lovely clear weekend ahead of me and two exciting sewing projects to get cracking on so it's all good. It'll mainly be nice to have time to think about something other than work, you know?

Anyway, that's the craic there. And I do have a dress to blog about today - well, because I usually blog when I have a new dress to show off. I made this dress before the craziness of this week hit, using some fabric I bought in Belfast when I had a few hours of fabric shopping with Kestrel Makes. Belfast city centre has two fabric shops, but we both ended up buying fabric in the Cath Kidston store. There is actually a Cath Kidston store in Leamington, but it doesn't sell fabric, so I felt a little less bad buying something so generic as a sort of holiday souvenir! The fabric I bought is described as 'cotton duck' and the print is called 'Camden' - I don't think it's available to buy online, but if you have a local store that stocks fabric you might be able to get some.

So anyway. Cath Kidston seems to use the term 'cotton duck' in a fairly generic way to describe their slightly heavier weight cotton canvas. That's just a word of warning that they're not all created equal. The Camden print is a medium weight canvas and, while I'm sure it's not really designed for garments, it worked just fine here.

Nancy Spain dress - By Hand London Elisalex bodice with skirt from Simplicity 1419, worn with Irregular Choice 'Can't Touch This' heels*

This dress was extremely simple to put together. It's basically my favourite bodice pattern - the princess-seamed bodice from the Elisalex dress - attached to the pleated skirt from Simplicity 1419. And because this print isn't directional and the fabric is 150cm wide, I was able to get this dress out of a metre of fabric. BOOM. Just as well, really. Cath Kidston fabric is pretty but very overpriced at £20 a metre.

Bodice view - so you can see the print more clearly

I spent a bit of time in the shop dithering over whether to buy this, the train print or the London bus print fabric. In the end, this won out because the print is so loud! (Spoiler: I did subsequently buy some of the London bus fabric) It feels very 60s to me, and it's a bit unlike the more typical ditsy floral that Cath Kidston is known for. The label said that this fabric could shrink by up to 5% so I made extra sure to pre-wash it before sewing with it. This is something I always do anyway - it's habit now, more than anything else- but with anything that seems to be loosely woven it's a really good idea. As it happens, I don't know if this shrank at all but washing it did make it a bit softer and more pleasant to sew with.

Nic posed me like this. I'm not sure why and I'm not sure if I like it. But this is what I look like, standing like this!

I really like the skirt pattern from Simplicity 1419. The pleats to one side are flattering and it's somewhere between a-line and full, so I think it's a very pretty silhouette. The fact that the pleats don't go the whole way across the skirt made it easy to match up with the bodice of the Elisalex dress. The measurements were roughly the same, but the pleats gave me a little bit of freedom to fit the skirt and bodice together neatly, and to line the pleats up with the bodice seams. I'm really pleased with how this dress turned out - I love how much the weight of the fabric makes the skirt stick out. I'm a child that way, I guess.

Here's the back view. You can see some wrinkles in the bodice which Nic tells me aren't there in real life. He might just be telling me that. Either way, the dress is close-fitting but it doesn't feel tight! Anyway - I know people like to see the back view of handmade dresses, and this way you can see the lucite heels on some of my favourite Irregular Choice shoes too!

I didn't take any photos of the innards of this dress but, just so you know, the bodice is lined but the skirt is not. I turned and stitched the skirt seams and I finished the hem using bias binding - once I tried on the dress to decide on the length I liked the skirt length so much that I didn't want to lose any of it. 

At my surprise hen do in May, I ended up drunkenly gushing to Elisalex about how much I love the bodices of both the Elisalex and the Anna dress. She very tolerantly listened to me - because it's fucking obvious. It's why I have used them both so many times with so many different skirts! Hm, in fact, this is reminding me that I haven't sewed an Anna dress in a while... anyway, with that in mind, I'm entering this dress into their current competition - the Pattern Hackathon. Why not, right?!

I'm going to leave you with one more totally gratuitous photo, because I think this dress is really cute. Then I'm going to eat a bit of cake and make dinner. Tonight Nic and I are going to a friend's house to watch The Crow. Nic has never seen it and I haven't seen it since I was a teenager. I hope it'll stand up to a rewatch - wannabe Goth teenager Roisin fucking LOVED that film!

I wore this dress with one of my many Hell Bunny cardigans. Cardigans by a brand called "Hell Bunny" - basically all that remains of the little mini-Goth I was a teenager.

I know legit goths didn't listen to The Cure, but that's why I was merely a wannabe. Don't care though. I still have a crush on Robert Smith in the 80s.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Toscanini? Arturo Toscanini? That's the WORST recording of 'The Magic Flute' there's ever been! I wouldn't even let it in the house!

Hello! It's Sunday of another week that has kind of managed to get away from me. It's been a funny week: I've had a horrible cold for the whole week, which is showing no signs of shifting. I've had a busy work week, public transport issues and I fell down the stairs on Thursday and hurt my arm. A colleague who I don't see very often asked me on Tuesday if I was pregnant and, when I said no, continued, "Are you sure?" Which, you know, didn't upset me as such - I laughed it off - but it was far from my favourite interaction of the week. So I've been sore and sniffly and presumably looking like I'm smuggling a baby bump. NOT THE BEST.

On the plus side for this week was lunch with my friend Lucy, buying some fabric, a dress and some silk pyjamas (excellent for going to bed in the afternoon to read John Wyndham novels when you're feeling snotty) and two good nights out this weekend. So I think it has all balanced out, even if my arm is still sore.

Today I'm going to show you a little dress I made last week. I'm still tinkering with lowering the back neckline of the Emery dress and, after getting there with the Lotus Bleu dress, I decided to try adding sleeves. I was given three metres of this lovely elephant print cotton, so away I went...

Three Graces dress - modified Christine Haynes Emery dress in Timeless Treasures 'Mini Elephants' fabric*, worn with Irregular Choice 'Fairies in a Jar' shoes

Awww maaaan, I look super goofy in these photos! But basically - yeah, this is another Emery dress with a circle skirt and a lowered back. The fabric is really cute and, while I don't often sew with black, it appealed to me as potentially a good wintery fabric. I wore my now too-big One Good Turn dress constantly throughout the winter I made it - it looked great with red tights, pink tights, black tights, blue tights - and I think the multi-coloured print of this dress is going to do the same thing. 

Bodice view - ignore my silly face and look at the leeetle elephants. They're cute, aren't they?

I saw my aunty M when I was at home a few weeks ago. She'd just come back from holiday and was telling me that she had bought an elephant ornament as a souvenir. Apparently they represent good luck if their trunks are pointing upwards. Well, I haven't checked every single one of the elephants on this print, like, but the ones I can see have their trunks pointing upwards to I'm taking that as a good sign.

Elephants are also significant to my adopted home-town of Leamington Spa - the Victorian elephant trainer Sam Lockhart lived in Leamington along with his troupe of elephants. The most well-known of these were the Three Graces: Wilhelmina, Haddie and Trilby. It's unverified local folklore that the elephants could frequently be seen walking on the parade and being bathed in the River Leam but whatever the truth of the story, it's a charming myth that is attached to the town. The elephants have even been commemorated in various ways - there's a Wilhelmina Close on Warwick Road, a sculpture of the elephants in Jephson Gardens and a truly horrible painting of them in the covered walkway at the railway station (that painting isn't even the worst of the ones there. I love them.) There's also a fantastic bakery on Regent Street named after Haddie and Trilby which, while not my favourite bakery in Leamington, does do an incredible sourdough pizza.

OMG never mind my back, my bum looks fucking HUGE in this photo. Ah, circle skirts. Thanks. (I actually have quite a small bum) But anyway, there's the dropped back. I'm pretty happy with it! Of course I didn't try to pattern match these millions of elephants. Ain't nobody got time for that.

It's shameful how little I have worn these shoes since I bought them like, last May? In my defence, black velvet shoes with pink ribbons are kind of hard to wear, but anyway, I thought they went pretty well with this dress. So, basically: success!

So anyway, that is the craic with this dress, and with life at the moment. I think this coming week is going to be similarly busy but hopefully without the injuries and delays of last week. And maybe this cold will take the hint and push off, as well. I can but hope.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

And take someone who can open doors with their head! Take Mitch!

Oh! What's up? It's all good here: cold and wet, and I have a cold. Only a head cold, and not enough to keep me off work, but certainly enough to make me feel utterly wretched. And then last night, Nic and I watched the episode of Fringe called 'Bound', in which people are infected with giant, slug-shaped cold virus monster things...


So yeah, that's been my week so far. Ah it's all good, though. I had a lovely weekend, and things are good. It's only a cold and not - I hope - giant spiky cold virus slug things. Winning, right?

The rain has been relentless, so here are some photos from the weekend before last, when the sun was shining and Nic and I were in Northern Ireland. On the Saturday, we took the bus to Belfast for a potter around the city and so that I could catch up with Kerry. One of our favourite things to do in Belfast is to have a walk in the Botanic Gardens, so I took the opportunity to have some photos taken of a recent sewing project.

The Palm House, Belfast

A few weeks ago, after I had heard from employee services that I had been invited to interview for a promotion, I decided to make a dress to wear to the interview. Also, sewing helped take my mind off the stress of preparing for the interview! I had some beautiful fabric in my stash, which coincidentally I had bought with a voucher I had won at work. I had enough to make an Emery dress, and that's what I felt like sewing.

Japanese Whispers dress worn with blue Swedish hasbeens heart sandals

The fabric is 'Japanese Chrysanthemums' by Philip Jacobs for Westminster Fabrics, and I bought it in House of Fraser in Birmingham. It was on the sale table for £7 a metre, and it was such a bargain! I suppose technically it's a quilting cotton, but it has the hand and weight of a lawn. It's really beautiful quality and I will be looking closely at any other Westminster Fabrics cottons I come across. 

Anyway - not too much to say about the sewing of this dress. I didn't do anything different to any of my other hundred and seventy three Emery dresses but the fit is a bit different in the upper part of the bodice here, for some reason. It's nothing major, and it's down to the fabric as much as anything else, I think.


Because of the scale of the print, it was kind of impossible to avoid getting Chrysanthemum Boobs. On the plus side, I may have found a new twitter handle! I love the print and the colours, and although I bought this fabric just because it was there, on sale and I had a voucher, I really love the finished dress. It was a good one to wear to my interview - a bit more subdued than my usual dresses, but still colourful and smart. 

Back dorp! I was pretending to walk here. I mean, I was ACTUALLY walking, but I was still pretending to? Blogging is fucking weird, when you think about it. But do you like my pattern matching across the back? YEAH BOI.

Anyway, that's the craic with the dress. It's another one that I'm sure I'll wear a fair bit when it gets (even) colder as it'll look grand with tights. That's about as far as I get with planning an autumn wardrobe, I'm afraid. Oh well. It's nice looking at these photos of a sunny day and remembering actual sun. Not that I'm melodramatic or anything.

Nic was feeling quite inspired by the lovely backdrop of the Palm House - which is a beautiful Victorian building. It's obviously on a much smaller scale than the one in Kew but it was built by the same iron-worker, Richard Turner. The above photos were taken in one of the smaller rooms and to the right of the pictures, although you can't see them, are banks of ornamental chilli plants. Anyway, apologies for the picture spam but fuck it, here goes:

Do you like those weird little Silurian-looking plants? Because it's not clear if I do.

Here I am, looking thoughtful on a chair. As you do.

My T-rex arms are too short to do selfies. I need to get one of those selfie stick things, or carry Nic with me at all times when I want to take a selfie.

Aye, it was sunny in Belfast last Saturday but it was still Belfast: BLOODY WINDY. So I wore this jacket, which was my birthday present from Nic. And eyes closed, because I didn't think I'd need to bring sunglasses back home with me. In fairness, I didn't. This was a few hours of sunshine in an otherwise rainy weekend.

I'm not in this one! I took this photo of the Albert Clock and one of either Samson or Goliath (I don't know which) and then I went to drink gin in the Spaniard. According to Odd Man Out, you can see the Albert Clock from ANYWHERE IN BELFAST. That's totally how it works. 

Anyway - that's the craic from me for tonight. I'm taking my sniffly ass to bed. Stay cosy, boys and girls!