Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I'm just like any modern woman trying to have it all. I just wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade.

Hey YO. How are we all getting on, first day back at work after a lovely long bank holiday weekend been treating you okay? I guess apart from you, teachers, you're probably good for a few days yet, right? Anyway, I was back at work today but working from home and - well, you might find it weird, but I kind of enjoyed getting back to it. The work I have on this week isn't thrilling or anything - I'm checking massive set-up spreadsheets. It's not sexy, like, but it's important and I am taking a perverse joy in doing it. What have I become?! Anyway - maybe it's just that I am feeling rested after being on leave and then having a fun long weekend immediately afterwards. The next couple of weeks at work are going to be HELLA busy but I'm feeling the energy to get through it.

I had a very relaxing yet productive long weekend. I put in some quality time with my sewing machine and made three dresses. Even more importantly, I re-traced a couple of my favourite patterns in my correct size and I took in lots of my favourite handmade dresses that were too big. I spent ages ironing most of it this afternoon, but I suppose that's the price you pay for having so many dresses. Eh. I quite like ironing though. Ironing and spreadsheets, WTF?!

So, after showing you all a By Hand London pattern hack in my last blog post, I have another one to blog this evening. What can I say? Their patterns are awesome. This dress has a nice circularity to it, too, because it was while I was chatting Charlotte and Victoria up at their stand at the Knitting and Stitching show that I met Ingrid from Beloved Fabrics. Anyway, Ingrid told me she read my blog and liked that I sew with quilting cottons, and then she offered to send me some fabric of my choice to make a dress with. Hurrah! It took me a couple of weeks of faffing to get in touch with Ingrid, and then a bit more faffing to actually choose something. I had to get my resident fabric whisperer - Nic - in to help me choose.  I had gravitated straight toward the nautical section (like, duh) and went for this:


Yeah, it's not your usual nautical fabric, is it? But I was drawn to the colours - that blue is more of a minty aqua green-blue in real life - and the weirdness of the sea urchins themselves.

Ingrid very kindly sent me three metres of the fabric and my initial plan was to make another Flora dress. When the fabric arrived, I rethought somewhat. Given how well the Elisalex bodice had worked with a circle skirt in the past, I decided to combine the two and go for a Floralex! So here she is...

Blah, Blah, Fishcakes dress - By Hand London Elisalex/Flora hybrid, worn with Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon bow shoes

Hey, and I sewed the skirt on the right way up this time round. Go me! This dress was a whizz to put together. The fabric is very lovely to work with. It is definitely a bit more quilting weight than, say, an Alexander Henry cotton. There are quilting cottons and there are quilting cottons, you know. Well, that's what I'd say to the quilting cotton deniers, anyway. This isn't as drapey as some others I have worked with, but it worked really well for this pattern. The knife-pleat in the front of the skirt and the box-pleats in the back look really crisp and smart, I think.


I made a couple of minor adjustments to the bodice. I scooped the neckline out a good deal more than the pattern calls for because I wasn't sure how well I'd like this pale blue next to my face. I gave myself a bit more room in the bust by using a smaller seam allowance on the very curved bit of the princess seam. Looking at this photo there's a slight wrinkling under the bust, so maybe I should have gone back to 5/8 for that bit. But I suppose this means I have room for pizza in this dress, which is no bad thing! 

Here's a wee close-up of the fabric, just for the craic

The fabric has a one-way pattern, which is arguably not ideal for sewing a circle skirt. I kind of like the way the changing direction of the stripes and the seaweed and the urchins looks a bit undulating. It's even a bit... nautical, eh?! I really like the way this is a slightly different take on the classical nautical theme, too. Finding a match for the aqua blue was a challenge for both thread and a zip, so I used white. I hemmed the skirt using turquoise bias binding. I was short on time and I popped into Harlequin Fabrics in town to see what they had and it was the best they had. They were pretty unhelpful in there too, which is a shame. I keep resolving not to shop in there any more - maybe one of these days, it will stick!


I bought these massive sunglasses last week. I had been prevaricating over them for months - I kept going into Topshop and trying them on and pouting at myself in the mirror and then leaving them behind. I finally reasoned that I'd need them on holiday. They're ludicrous and I love them.


You can rest assured that this isn't going to be the last Elisalex/Flora combination in my wardrobe. These two patterns go really well together and I did feel fabulous in this dress. I'm in the middle of knitting a cropped pink cardigan to go with it, and then I'll be all set!

Thanks again to Ingrid for so kindly offering to send me some fabric. I'm really pleased with this dress, and to have found another online shop selling pretty cottons. I'm pretty sure that after payday I'm going to treat myself to this Riley Blake cowboy fabric - it had been a choice between that and the sea urchins, and Nic ruled in favour of the sea monsters.

I'm going to head off for the evening - Nic and I have some serious Star Trek to be watching - we bought S6 of TNG on DVD over the weekend and we're up to the Birthright two-parter - but before I go, I have to let you know who won the Sew Over It Betty pattern I was giving away. I was originally giving away one copy of this lovely pattern but the postman came bearing a second one today - a reprint, due to a minor error on the envelope - so I can give away two! TWO ARMADILLOS! The winners are French Fancy and Elise of Foof and Faff. Guys, drop me an email to thestreak@gmail.com and I'll pop the patterns in the post to you. Now. Worf is about to find out what really happened at Khitomer, so I'd better go...

Ladies Love Cool Worf

Friday, April 18, 2014

This is my costume. I'm a homicidal maniac. They look like everybody else.

Hola, boys and girls! Happy Easter! Nic and I got the long Easter weekend off to a good start - my weekend officially started at lunchtime on Thursday as I had a half-day, but it kind of started on Wednesday night. We went for pizza and prosecco with our friends Rick and Lauren, and it was lucky I was working from home on Thursday so me and my hangover could answer emails and work on a spreadsheet in peace. And, you know, in bed.

I still have some sewing projects to catch you up on from the last few weeks; I am so behind with actually blogging! Anyway, it feels like it's been a while since I posted a Dolly Clackett special - a pattern hack. This time around it's the By Hand London Flora dress. One of the things I love about the By Hand London patterns is how gloriously hackable they are. When I first spied the Flora pattern, I was particularly taken with the tank bodice as I thought it would be a good basis from which to recreate one of my favourite shop-bought dresses; this dress from River Island:


This photo was taken when we went to Orlando in 2012 - this dress got me so many compliments from strangers!

I love the shape of this dress and actually have it in all of the different variations River Island brought out that year (including one with Eiffel Towers on it!) but it's kind of a weird dress. The waistline has some cute pleating and the skirt is beautifully full, but it has a halfway open back - it zips to the lower back and then has a peekaboo type back bodice that fastens with three hooks and eyes. There's no way to wear it without your bra being visible. But anyhow, it's about 7000% nicer than everything else that you can buy in River Island and these dresses are some of the few shop-bought dresses that I regularly wear these days. Being able to make my own version is pretty attractive.

So, enter some of the fabric that I bought at the Knitting and Stitching show - another Dolly Clackett special, and you have the Lauren dress:

Lauren dress - By Hand London Flora bodice and a pleated skirt, worn with Vivienne Westwood for Melissa shoes

Yes, more From The Hip fabric. I KNOW. I know. But it's rare to find it on sale in the yellow colourway. Or at least, it's rare to find enough of it to make a dress with. I spotted this at the Fabrics Galore stand and didn't buy it immediately, for fear that I'd see something else at another stand and not have the budget. So anyway, after a circuit of the show I decided I had to go back for it, at which point the bolt was nowhere to be seen. The stall had been ravaged! I was sadly looking through the remaining bolts, when Lauren let a heart-rending yelp out of her. She'd found it! Anyway, I bought 2 metres of it and have named the dress after Lauren.

In terms of construction, this was very easy and I made this dress up one Tuesday night when Nic was in Birmingham. The skirt was very simple - I used the width of the fabric for the skirt front and half that for each of the skirt back pieces. Then I measured the width, measured the width of the waistline and divided one by the other to work out how wide the pleats should be. Then I pleated it. SELF-DRAFTED LOL. The pleats on the River Island dress are much more complicated, but then they are also much more fiddly to iron so, you know, this is all good.

I'm smug because I'm calling a pleated rectangle a 'self-drafted skirt' and I think I'm really fucking clever.

I had lots of fabric to play with - in fact, I totally over-estimated how long I wanted this to be so I have a really deep hem - so I was able to work out the pattern placement just how I liked it. The sassy-ass cowgirl on the horse deserved a showcase, and I'm really pleased with how the bodice frames her. I also like the cowgirl reclining on one of my boobs. Because if you can have that, WHY WOULDN'T YOU? I also attempted to pattern-match along the zip. This is something I'm not usually that bothered with, but I guess all of your tweets about the Great British Sewing Bee (I wasn't watching it, confiscate my sewing machine if you like) rubbed off on me.

God, the photos of my back always look like pure derp. I'm glad I can't normally see my own back.

It's not perfect, right. Guitar Cowgirl looks like she got caught in the doorway between dimensions when it closed and she kind of got doubled and she has an extra bit of face. But as I said above, I can't usually see my own back so that's fine.


Yeah, my front is better. Let's stick with that. I'm really pleased with how this dress turned out. You all know how much I love a gathered skirt, but a full pleated skirt is probably a bit more flattering, especially in a quilting cotton such as this. Also, it's less of a faff to sew - even with my 'drafting' (snarf) this dress really did take only a few hours to sew. You know I love that. I've already made another one of these in excellent fabric that I'll show you soon. It doesn't have cowgirls on it, though. You can't have everything. It does make me think that I should have a go at adding a pleated skirt to the Emery dress, so you can expect to see one of those at some point too, probably. 

So anyway, that's the craic there. I've been thoroughly enjoying my bank holiday today - I didn't do any sewing, as we were having a day out. A local community project called Foundry Wood were holding a pizza making workshop in their outdoor kitchen. I can see Foundry Wood from the train when I'm coming home from work and I have been curious about it. And I like pizza, so it all worked out beautifully. The sun was shining so I wore another one of my Flora dresses, and off we went!

Folklore Flora dress, jacket from Fever Designs, Topshop sunglasses, yellow satchel from Zatchels and Miss L Fire Bluebird sandals

Most of the other people at the pizza workshop were children, so we had to wait patiently for our turn at the oven. It was totally worth it and so much fun - waiting in the sunshine for our handcrafted pizza to cook was pretty awesome!

Pizza in progress...

Pizza success!

Too Much Fun with Too Many Dresses

Anyway, I know none of that is really pertinent to sewing but I realised recently how much I have missed sharing more of my life with you guys. I'm going to get back to that! After eating our pizza in the sunshine, we headed down to the canal to have a drink in the sunshine... and that turned into a couple of drinks and a visit to the playground...

That dipped hem looks MEGA on the zipper line, does it not?!

And, on that note, I'm off to eat some chocolate. Happy Easter, everyone!

Friday, April 11, 2014

You can't say your favorite kind of cake is birthday cake, that's like saying your favorite kind of cereal is breakfast cereal.

How's it going there everybody from Cork, New York, Dundalk, Gortahork and Glenamaddy? I hope everyone has been having a good week. Nic and I are back in Leamington now, after a pretty good week at home in Northern Ireland. We had a great day at my sister's wedding on Saturday. I was a very graceful bridesmaid in a very pretty dress and, it being an Irish wedding, I only really got over the hangover today. It was a good week, but it's also been excellent to get back to Leamington and my sewing machine. I was waiting in today for a courier to arrive (delivering some shoes, obviously) and spent the afternoon sewing. It was lush, and so was the celebratory gin I went out for this afternoon.

Anyway, as I mentioned in my last post, I do have something of a backlog of projects to show you. A few weeks ago, Lisa Comfort of Sew Over It got in touch with me and asked me would I be interested in pattern testing her new pattern, the Betty dress. I was short on time and the turnaround was pretty tight, as it often is with pattern testing, but when I saw the pattern I was too tempted to say no! For some reason I can't get the photo of the pattern to upload but it's described as "a 50s inspired dress with a fitted bodice and full circle skirt." So, you know, that's relevant to my interests. Because of other commitments, I only really had one shot at making this dress before the deadline so this is kind of a wearable toile.

Big Block of Cheese dress - Sew Over It Betty dress and Vivienne Westwood for Melissa 'globe' Lady Dragon shoes

A Big Block of Cheese dress! I bought this fabric when I went shopping with lovely sewing blogger friends at the start of March, and it came from Barry's in Birmingham. In truth, I had meant to buy it the previous month when I was visiting Barry's but sadly on that occasion I was too sick to cope with the heat in there so didn't buy anything. I kept thinking about it though, and when Helen rocked up in her World Map dress, I took it as fate. I bought 2.5 metres of this fabric, which worked out to be the perfect amount for the Betty dress. Also, I love wearing my Claudia Jean dress so much, it seemed like she needed a sister. Basically I bought this map fabric just so I could make a dress and call it the Big Block of Cheese dress.

Sewing-wise, Betty came together very quickly and it's a straightforward pattern. There's a really neat trick for finishing the all-in-one facing in the bodice so that it's all enclosed, but I must confess that I found the instructions for this to be utterly baffling. I was all ready to just throw in the towel when Nic looked at the instructions, looked at the pieces and was just like, "duh. You do it like this." It's a very neat technique and I understand that there will be a sewalong, which I'm sure will explain it for anyone else who finds it confusing! That was really the only difficult thing about the pattern, which I think would be suitable for a confident beginner otherwise.


I cut a size 8, and I made my usual adjustment of raising the shoulder seams slightly. The fit is okay, but I think I am going to have to play with it a little bit to get it just right. This fabric was inexpensive enough that I was happy to use it as a potentially wearable toile, and this is wearable!


You can see from this photo that I have some excess fabric under my bust and across the neckline. I will take some of the width out of the neckline and - well, I'd welcome your thoughts on what to do about the excess fabric under my bust. This pattern is so pretty that I would like to get the fit better on it. That being said, I don't think that issue is going to prevent me from wearing this dress as it is.

Back view - one of the pretty details on this pattern is the scooped back. I'm such a sucker for this!


Aaah, cardigans. They're good for hiding when something doesn't fit just exactly as well as you might like it to!

I enjoy pattern testing - or at least, I have enjoyed it on the occasions when I've been invited to do it. The Betty pattern is apparently very popular at Sew Over It's classes, and I can see why - this style is just exactly what I enjoy wearing and I think it's very versatile. Apart from the one instruction that I struggled a bit with, the instructions were very clear and I can't fault the drafting or design. It's a cutie! Sew Over It were excellent to work with as well, and it's really pleasing to build relationships with independent designers here in the UK. Lisa sent me the finished copy of the pattern but it feels a bit greedy of me to keep it when I have the copy I tested from, so I'm going to give it away to one of you lovely readers! I'll hold the giveway open until Friday 18th April at 9pm BST - so pretty much one week from now - and all you need to do is leave me a comment below to let me know you'd like to be entered in the draw. You can also tell me what fabric you'd make it from, because I'm nosey that way!

Well, anyway. It's Friday night and we're celebrating. Having booked a venue for our after-wedding party a couple of weeks ago, Nic and I went to view it this afternoon. It's just been refurbished and they'd just finished it this afternoon! It's really cool, and apparently they're going to have something like 100 different gins on the menu - I mean, who even knew there were that many types of gin? Anyway, I'm very happy with how our (very minor) wedding plans are coming together. Basically everything is set now, so we're celebrating this evening with champagne and Double Indemnity. YEAH. Just as well I'm finally over that hangover, right?
Thank you, alcohol.

Friday, April 04, 2014

I once worked with a guy for three years and never learned his name. Best friend I ever had. We still never talk sometimes.

WELL BOUT YE. Yes, I'm in Northern Ireland right now! I'm at home this week for my little sister's wedding. It's great to be home, not least because it's nice not to be at work right now. We got home quite late on Tuesday night and have spent time with family, had a little day out in Belfast and spent lots of time playing with the dog. Hurrah!

I have a little backlog of sewing projects to show you, having managed to finally shake off the tiredness that dogged me throughout much of March. It's been really good to want to sit down at my sewing machine again, because I think that was the thing I had been missing the most - the excitement and joy of planning a project.

So, the story with this dress is that I went fabric shopping at the start of last month with Marie, Kat, Helen, Claire and Amy in Birmingham. I mentioned to Marie how much I loved the fabric that she'd made her Flora dress with, and when I was on my way home she messaged me to say she was going to send me some. I was very touched and I wanted to do something special with it - and of course, another one of Marie's creations inspired me, her Elisalex of Ecstasy and Shame! After my Northland Row dress worked out to be too big, I got around to retracing the Elisalex dress pattern in a size 8. Pattern tracing is such a faff, but at times like these it is totally worth it. Anyway, I sewed this dress last Sunday afternoon while Nic was at the cinema with some friends. Having made the Elisalex dress many, many times before, I can put one together very quickly indeed!

The Marie dress - By Hand London Elisalex dress, worn with Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon shoes

Isn't the fabric beautiful? It's a furnishing weight fabric, so pretty perfect for the dramatic tulip skirt and its awesome box pleats. It has a slight sheen to it, which Marie says will fade after a wash -  mine still has it though as I didn't worry about prewashing the fabric before sewing (gasp! I know, I'm a sewing slut! Clutch those pearls, guys!)This feels like a slight departure from my usual OTT style but I think it has a really classic appeal which works well with the shape of this dress.


So, after sewing a few dresses recently that have worked out to be a bit too big, this dress is rather more fitted. I had done a full bust adjustment on the larger size Elisalex I had been working from last year and I didn't bother with this one - my current measurements didn't seem to warrant it. I didn't toile before cutting into this fabric (get the pitchforks!) partly out of laziness, but also partly because I don't have anything approximating this weight of fabric to compare it with. Anyway, long story short is that I think I could probably do with a bit more room in the bust, and there is some wrinkling across the back but this may not be the case with a lighter weight fabric. In any case, this dress is perfectly comfortable and certainly wearable as it is. Well, I'm happy to wear it.


Now, normally I wouldn't have very much to say about the construction of this dress because I have made it a number of times. This time, though, I made a really silly mistake. I didn't realise until it was fairly late on in the construction. Can you tell what it was?

I'm not sure what I'm giving the side-eye to in this photo but it made me laugh, whatever it was

I SEWED THE DAMN SKIRT ON UPSIDE DOWN.

Yeah. I sewed the skirt on upside down. I thought it strange that, when I was attaching the skirt to the bodice, I couldn't find the notches I'd cut for the pleats, but I put it down to the fact that the fabric edges had frayed. I found those notches later, when I was ironing the hem. Yeah. Now, I wasn't going to say anything because it makes me feel sort of stupid and luckily, I think that if you didn't know I'd done that, it wouldn't have been obvious. Thankfully the fabric doesn't have an obvious one-way print. I could have detached it and redone the whole thing, but I didn't because - well, I didn't want to, and I like the skirt as it is. Anyway, I wanted to mention it - not because it is obvious, and not because I'm proud of it, but because these things happen and it's never the end of the world. Earlier in my sewing life, this would have really upset me. My dressmaking students often tell me they're afraid to cut into fabric in case they ruin it. But you can't ruin fabric, it's only fabric. And mistakes happen, and that's fine. No-one's going to die, like.


I kind of like the mistaken skirt anyway. It makes it more of a bell shape, and it works very well with the weight of the fabric. And I love this fabric such a lot. It's dear to me on account of being a gift, and it's just so pretty and elegant. Plus, I think the colours work perfectly with my dove blue heels - which are one of my favourite pairs. I'm looking forward to taking this dress with me on our honeymoon - I think it will look great with oversized sunglasses, cute flat sandals and a glass of champagne.

The moral of the story is that as well as being a sewing slut, I'm also pretty remedial. Judge me if you want.  BUT IT DOESN'T EVEN MATTER and I really do love this dress. Thank you so much, Marie - I think that, even with my ridiculous mistake, I did this gorgeous fabric justice.

Right now, I'm away. There's some bad daytime TV to be watched and a small dog to be cuddled. Catch you all after the weekend!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Exhausted Ruler said if you took an oath it would have to be broken for generations of centuries of hundreds of years.

HOLLA. Hello there, everyone! What is the craic with you all this evening? Right now I am huddled under a blanket with the heaters back on - apparently it's going to warm up again by the weekend but it's cold right now, boo! I had my tights packed away and everything.

Cold nose aside, everything is pretty swell. I've had a really good few days and have even managed to get some of my energy back - I got some sewing in over the weekend and on Monday evening as well. I've been working at home and wrestling with the Enormo Spreadsheet of Doom parts 1 and 2, but the up side of that is the coffee is good here and I don't have to take the train. So yeah, things are pretty good. I had a long weekend as Nic and I had an appointment to see the registrar on Friday to give notice of marriage. That was very exciting, not least because it meant I was able to miss a very boring meeting at work. It was a slightly chilly day but the sun was shining, and we had a lovely time. We went for lunch afterwards and had a bottle of prosecco and some sloe gin in the evening to celebrate. On Saturday we went to Birmingham to see some short films as part of the Flatpack Festival, have lunch at Bistro 1847 and generally just have a bit of a day out. I tried to buy shoes, but failed. In fact, I have attempted to buy shoes on two separate occasions since then, but have crapped out just shy of hitting 'submit' each time. I must be ailing for something...

Aaanyway - that's us all caught up. I have a new sewing project to show you and everything! I actually finished this dress a couple of weeks ago, but I'm pretty behind with blogging. Sooo... I bought this fabric on payday at the end of last month, when I also bought Eurostar tickets to Paris (woohoo!) and paid the electricity bill, and then decided not to buy any more fabric this month. And then I went fabric shopping with some of my sewing blogger pals, and then I went fabric shopping with Lauren. BUT, when you see the fabric, you'll understand why I had to buy it.

Home Sewing is Easy II - Hawaii by Alexander Henry fabrics

Yeah. Now, I can't remember who it was who alerted me to the existence of a sequel to Home Sewing is Easy, but I'm glad they did. This is awesome. Unlike the original, this does have a story to follow. The panels are spread at random across the fabric and not in the order of the narrative, but the jist of it is that Jim is a rat. He's invited Mia to join him in Hawaii, but she doesn't have a thing to wear!


Luckily for Mia, her friend Susan can sew...


Meanwhile, in Hawaii...


Jim is, I guess, naked somewhere? And in the short time that's elapsed since inviting Mia to Hawaii, he's met someone else. He IS a rat!


Mia's going all out. That sun-dress pattern just isn't slutty enough.


Ah, okay. Now it is. 


Well, Jim is naked. So, probably not.

Is Mia naked on the phone?

Jim's been busy cosying up to Betty, but little does he know the power that Mia's new slutty Hawaii wardrobe is going to have. TRAFFIC STOPPING POWER.


Time to ditch the blonde...


Dude isn't even man enough to do it face to face. He's too busy macking on Mia down at the beach...


At least he has his clothes on him this time, though. And a lei, because Hawaii. Betty's not going to rest, though. I guess she thinks that Jim is such a catch. Or at the very least, she understands that a handmade slutty dress is enough to turn his empty head...


Yeah, Betty. You raise that hem. Put it all in the shop window, why not. It'll do the trick. I guess home sewing isn't the only thing that's easy.

So, yeah. The print is fabulous. As well as the story being genuinely hilarious, I absolutely love the colours, the Ray Lichenstein style drawings and the pineapples. All the pineapples. I wanted something pretty simple to showcase the amazing print, so reached once again for Christine Haynes's Emery pattern...

Sons of the Desert dress and Topshop wedges

I had two metres of the fabric, which was more than enough to ensure Betty's declaration that 'home sewing is easy' could go front and centre. That's the only attempt I made at pattern matching or anything, but I'm really pleased with how it worked out. Sadly, I cut the fabric and sewed the dress without realising that I'd lost a bit of weight, and it worked out a bit too big. In my first lot of photos, I put a belt on to try to hide this, but I felt uncomfortable in the dress the whole day.


You can see the excess fabric under the bust and across the shoulders. I did my little shrinking trick of popping the dress through a very hot wash, and it was an improvement. The next time I wash it, I'll do the same. I've re-traced the pattern in a size down. It's kind of a bummer, actually, because quite a few of my handmade dresses are now too big and my alterations pile is now as big as my fabric stash. Over the next couple of weeks I am going to figure out what I want to alter, what I want to pack away for a rainy day, and what I'm going to send to the charity shop. I did buy some more of the original Home Sewing is Easy fabric, though, because I'm not even sure how to begin altering the dress I made with that and it swamps me now.

Anyway. A bit of ease in a summer dress is no bad thing, and I am really happy with this dress. The fabric is just so fucking fabulous.

Still a little bit big... but I guess that just means room for cake, right?

I know some of you enjoy knowing where my random references come from. I named this dress after one of the funniest films I've ever seen; the Laurel and Hardy film Sons of the Desert. Often, all I need is to think about Sons of the Desert and I'll start laughing. Stan and Ollie want to go to their Sons of the Desert lodge convention in Chicago, but are pretty sure their wives won't let them. Ollie gets a vet to tell his wife he's ill, and that he needs to go to Hawaii to recuperate. Off they merrily go to Chicago, their wives none the wiser. Disaster strikes when the ocean liner they were due to travel on sinks in a Typhoon. When their wives go to the cinema to take their minds off it, they catch the boys out...


So, although they never actually make it to Honolulu, Stan and Ollie manage to get into just as much trouble there as Jim, Mia and Betty. 

Honolulu Baby, where'd you get those eyes...


Maybe one day, I'll get to wear this dress in actual Hawaii. For now, I'd settle for the sun coming back out. I wore this to work last week and, while my colleagues are used to the sorts of clothes I like, they were pretty intrigued by the print on this. It was amusing to be stopped in the coffee queue because the person behind me hadn't finished reading my back.

Anyway, that's it for this evening. It's taken me ages to write this, what with all the five million pictures and thinking up all my hilarious jokes. Nic and I are watching the Harry Potter films and we're up as far as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. He's never read the books and doesn't really know anything about the stories, so it's really fun to watch them with him. Although it's kind of weird watching these films through again. All I can think is how hideously irresponsible all wizard adults are. I mean, Dumbledore is a total dick. Sorry not sorry. But it's also a joy watching Ron Weasley grow up again. I think the only child actor cuter than Rupert Grint was Michael Fishman, who played DJ in Roseanne.

THAT LITTLE FACE THOUGH


Oh sorry, yes, this is only the best gif ever. Night!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Any dog under 50 pounds is a cat, and cats are pointless.

Hola, dudes! I have been meaning to sit down and blog all week, but I have totally lost the run of myself this week. Work is reliably pretty crazy at the moment; I had a couple of school-night social engagements and I just seem to have hit a wall of general exhaustion that no amount of pre-9pm bedtimes seem to be helping. I have a week and a half of annual leave on the horizon and I’m hanging in there for that, but this week I have either been at full tilt or flat on my back, with nothing much in between. And I have all this beautiful fabric waiting to be made into pretty dresses, but the thought of sitting at my sewing machine makes me want to cry. Sigh. I’ll get back into the swing of things over the weekend, I hope.

Anyway, I had a less frantic week last week and was able to get some sewing done then, and I had a lovely weekend as well. A few weeks ago, when I was chatting to Charlotte from By Hand London about their kickstarter bid (go and check it out, by the way) she offered to send me a couple of tickets for the Knitting and Stitching show at the Olympia. I didn’t think Nic would be up for it, despite his badass fabric choosing skills, but my lovely friend Lauren decided she would join me.

I’ve always been on the fence a bit about these kinds of exhibitions. I went along to the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC a few years ago and found it a frustrating experience. At the time I was pretty skint and I was also struggling a fair bit with anxiety, so being in such a big crowd was less than ideal. The sheer number of exhibitors should have been a good thing, but in an unpleasant, dark and cramped venue it was more stressful than anything else. I’ve never wanted to go back. The Olympia show was a great contrast, however, and I really enjoyed the day. The venue itself is large and airy and it has natural light. There were loads of exhibitors, and space to move around between them, and all of the housekeeping stuff like catering and toilets and places to sit down – that was all handled much better, too. Of course, the company was a major plus. Lauren loves to sew as well, and we had so much fun pottering around the stalls and picking out fabrics together. She bought more than I did BUT I bought fabric for my wedding dress, so I think we came out even. I am so thrilled with my wedding dress fabric. It wasn’t something I had considered before I saw it, but when I saw it, it was love. I can’t wait to sew it.

We were also able to spend some time with Charlotte and Victoria at the By Hand London booth, and that was a lot of fun. I’m not a natural salesperson, but I did manage to talk a lady into buying the Georgia pattern by showing her Handmade Jane’s DAMN FINE version of it. I was also a walking advert my own self, because I was wearing my second go at the beautiful Flora dress. I failed to get any photos on the day, but Nic very kindly took some photos of the dress when it was finished.

Something for the Weekend dress and red wedges from Primark (via ebay)

So, I made this dress last Tuesday night while Nic was out at the pub. The fabric came from Barry’s in Birmingham and I bought it when I met up with sewing lovelies at the beginning of March. It’s a cotton poplin and I think it was around £4.99 per metre. This being my second Flora dress, I knew what I was at when it came to construction, but this time I made two minor changes. I took a tiny bit of width out of the bodice front and bodice back (I just pinched it and taped it on my pattern piece. Not sure if that’s ‘proper’ or not, but it worked) and I cut the skirt pieces a bit longer. I was undecided at the time whether to go for a high-low hem or give the straight hem a try.

As you can see, I decided to go for a straight hem this time, but it did take me a while to decide. Surprisingly, Nic cast his vote for the dipped hem. I say surprisingly because, like wedge shoes and jumpsuits, I kind of assumed that high-low hems were one of those fashion things that girls liked but men didn’t! I liked it too, in theory, but for some reason my ad-hoc lengthening of the skirt didn’t work terribly well and the hem was working out more of a handkerchief hem (longer at the sides) and, well, I didn’t like it. Straight hem it was! But, I have to front with you, this is not my best hem. I was really exhausted when I was sewing it, and it’s not entirely straight. If I were on the sewing bee with this shiz, I’d be laughed out of the place. But, I’m not on the TV and it’s minor enough that I’d rather live with it than fuck about trying to fix it. I know, Roisin, RAISE YOUR STANDARDS. But, you know...


No, seriously though. I did worry about the hem when I put the dress on. You might be able to see in the photos that it’s not totally straight, but I don’t think you’d have noticed it if I hadn’t pointed it out. In fairness, you’d probably have been too polite to say if you had noticed.

A little goofy close-up of the bodice because why not

Anyway, I think Flora is another winner. I really love the silhouette and, for a dress that is so quick and simple to put together, I think the end result is very pretty and elegant. Hemming aside, this really did only take a matter of hours to put together. I had cut the fabric out the previous weekend and I sewed this up between 8pm and 11pm. Winner! I’m sure you can tell there are going to be many more Flora dresses in my future – I’m keen to try the faux wrap bodice variation soon! I’ve decided that Flora, or a Flora variation is going to be the pattern I use for my wedding dress. It feels like me, and it totally fits the fabric I have chosen, but I haven’t decided yet which direction to go in for the bodice. Still, I have a bit of time before I have to actually cut any fabric.


Anyway, that's the craic with the Flora dress, round 2. Oh, and I named it after the song by The Divine Comedy which is in itself a reference to one of my favourite books, Cold Comfort Farm. If you don't think Flora Poste is a total dudette, we can't be friends. 


Also: on Wednesdays, we wear pink.

Right, I think that's the lot for this evening. I need to build up my energy for some sewing this weekend, and that means putting on my pyjamas and going to bed. But here's one last, totally superfluous photo that shows you nothing new about my dress. But I think I look cute in it. Mainly because you can't really see my face...