Monday, July 06, 2015

There’s something missing, something wrong. It’s like a pretty girl with short hair.

Hello everyone! Happy Monday my loves! I hope everyone has had a lovely, lovely weekend. I'm a teeny bit - a teeny tiny bit - hungover after a weekend of (relative) excess. It was nice, actually. Since I had that alcohol poisoning at Christmas, I have found it difficult to ever drink more than a few drinks at a time. That's still the case, actually, but over the weekend I found the sweet spot where I could feel pleasantly tipsy without freaking out about being drunk, and that was nice.

I had to work over the weekend which was annoying (especially when it meant dealing with rude and condescending emails) but otherwise, it was perfect. I had Friday afternoon off, which I spent in the sunshine with Nic. I sewed a toile of a dress I wanted to make and prepped my pattern pieces, and I got down to sewing on Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon I had a new dress to wear for a walk in the countryside with friends. Don't you love it when that happens?!

The pattern in question is the Sew Over It vintage shirt-dress, which I bought last week. While I was buying the pattern in their online store, I also strayed over to their fabrics section and bought a couple of metres of their anchor print chambray. I'd seen some buttons with anchors on in a local haberdashery - in fact, every time I've gone in over the last few months I've tried to find an excuse to buy them - and I finally found my reason!


This summer has sort of unofficially become the Summer of Shirt-dresses, given my ever-increasing love of McCalls 6696. I was charmed by the look of this dress, though - I was lucky enough to have had a preview of it, having seen Emmie's test version in person when we went to Fashion on the Ration exhibition at the IWM in April. I knew then that I needed to add this to my wardrobe. The anchor fabric was just a happy coincidence. You know that in the summer, I am constantly looking for ways to emulate my hero, Mayor Larry Vaughn:


I might never actually get around to making myself an anchor print blazer because, realistically, I might never wear it. I haven't got the same pizazz as old Larry here. A shirt-dress seemed like the next best thing.

Going by the finished garment measurements on the back of the pattern envelope, it was looking like I'd need to sew a size 8, but I wanted to toile it to get an idea of ease. It turns out that there is a fair amount of ease built in around the waist - fairly standard with shirt-dresses, I'd say - and I needed to take it in by around an inch overall at the waist. I did this at the side seams but I'm curious to see if it would work better by increasing the size of the pleats.

I had set aside Saturday and Sunday morning to sew this dress but ended up whizzing through it very quickly on Saturday morning, which was a very pleasant surprise. I was able to wear it that afternoon! The instructions are very thorough and I stuck very closely to them, which made sewing the notched collar a breeze. I've been lucky enough to work with Lisa and her team at the John Lewis 150 day last year and I know how knowledgable and thorough they are and this is fully reflected in the quality of the pattern instructions and the drafting. This was an absolute pleasure to sew and I'm already looking forward to sewing another one!

Larry Vaughn dress - Sew Over It vintage shirt-dress in anchor chambray, worn with Miss L-Fire 'Cherry Pop' sandals

The pattern calls for eight buttons but I bought ten, and I think I could have even done with twelve, to be honest. This is personal preference more than anything else, I think, but I would like to have added a couple more buttons towards the bottom of the skirt. Maybe this is also because I think the anchor buttons are the actual bomb. I'm going to go back and buy more to put onto a cardigan. They come in red as well. ONE IN EVERY COLOUR, LADS.


Here's my sunshine and prosecco-fuelled crazy face. We had friends with us when Nic was taking these photos so I felt a little bit self-conscious - sorry there are not closer-up photos of the buttons!

There are so many things I really like about this pattern. The notched collar is very sweet and I love the shape of the neckline. This is a pretty short and sweet summer dress so it's a little bit low-cut. When I make another one, I will have the first button a little bit higher up to preserve my modesty! I love the shape of the skirt and the way the pleats on the bodice and on the skirt create a subtle and interesting shaping. It's a really beautiful design - as is the way the shoulder seams curve to the front and join with a gently gathered seam. It's lovely!


The skirt hits me just above my knee, which is a really good length for a summer dress. My preference is usually for a longer hem but, you know, getting the knees out the odd time is fine too! I didn't manage to get any photos of the back, but the bodice fits me very well across the lower back - I usually need to shorten bodices somehow, but that wasn't the case here. The waist seam sits at my rather high natural waist, so this is something you might want to watch if you're sewing this dress for yourself.

Following on from my last post, there's something about the chambray that makes this dress feel quite 90s as well. Maybe I just have the 90s on my mind a lot at the moment - Nic and I watched two series of My Mad Fat Diary very quickly so we could watch the final episodes as they are broadcast, so I've been listening to a lot of 90s indie! Still, I guess the 90s are officially 'vintage' now, so maybe it still fits. In any case - I love this dress!


Nic has been updating his summer wardrobe and he bought this stripy t-shirt the other day. While we were waiting outside the flat for our friends to arrive, he said to me, "I look like I work on the boat you're the captain of!" Our matching outfits were accidental, but pleasing all the same.

Anyway, that's my Sew Over It shirt-dress. I'll definitely make more. I'd like to make one with sleeves and with a slightly longer skirt for when the weather is cooler. I think I'd like a polka dot one - maybe in navy - but I'll wait to see what fabric speaks to me. In the meantime, I'm going to be finding every available opportunity to wear this one. I'm nowhere near the sea, but I do have a river nearby...


I was warned, "If you fall in that river, I'm not going in after you" which, fair enough. I didn't stay up on that wall for long!

I did this, instead:

Sailors drink rum, so...

It was a good weekend. I earned this little hangover, I did. But now I need to go and medicate it with lunch and coffee, so I'll catch you all later. Bye!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Bobby and me have decided. He's going to stick vegetables up his nose. He's not going to take over the family gas station.

Hello hello! Happy Heatwave to my British readers and just, you know, happy Wednesday afternoon to all the rest of you all. I'm currently hiding out in the flat. The lovely warm weather is good and all, but I have hay fever and the constant sneezing when I'm outside is doing my head in. Happy days!

Firstly - a massive thank you to all of you who entered the giveaway for Plush Addict. I expect they're feeling pretty loved! I put all your names into a spreadsheet (you know I love a spreadsheet) and chose a number with the random number generator. Mrs O - you're the winner! I will be in touch with details.

So anyway, that's the craic there. I'm grand here, hay fever notwithstanding. I had a bit of a mad end to the week last week at work and ended up working very late on Friday night and throughout Saturday morning. Such fun. Ugh. After I finished work on Friday night I poured myself a massive gin and tonic and lay on the sofa for a while before deciding that I needed to do some sewing to clear my head. In my gin-fuelled wisdom, I thought the best thing to do try out a whole new pattern - Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity 1801.


I'm honestly not really sure what possessed me to sew this, a little bit drunk and late at night. Earlier in the week I'd had a go at another Cynthia Rowley pattern - 1607 - which ended up being a total wadder. That particular pattern is currently on time out while I decide whether it's worth making the necessary adjustments. Anyway, mostly I find that Simplicity patterns fit me reasonably well out of the packet but I guess the Cynthia Rowley patterns are drafted from a different block or whatever - it's not so straightforward with these ones. So anyway, I sewed 1801 to the point where I needed to do some hand-sewing and hem it and tried it on, and hated it. In fairness, it was very late at night and I was a few gins in. When I tried it on again the following morning and realised it could potentially be saved with a small adjustment, I didn't feel quite as annoyed. I'm thinking of this as a wearable toile. Maybe. It might yet go in the bin.

3 O'Clock In The Morning dress - Simplicity 1801 in wax cotton, worn with Swedish hasbeens braided sandals

This dress certainly turned out a bit cuter than I thought it would but, yeah, I am still pretty unsure about it. You can't really see it in this print (I'll get to the print in a minute too) but I just don't think the wide, curved waistband really suits me. I have a pretty short torso and the waistband bisects it in a weird way! The bodice and waistband ended up being too long and the on-the-fly adjustment I made to fix this was to significantly shorten the shoulder yokes, which brought the whole thing up. I think that, if I am to make this pattern again, I will want to do that and decrease the width of the waistband slightly too.


The combination of the wide, low waistband, the gathering AND the fact that I used a fairly weighty wax cotton means that there is a lot of room in the stomach area. I am definitely - very definitely - NOT pregnant, but this dress sort of makes me look like I am pregnant. In 1995. Because the fabric has a sort of 90s board shorts vibe to it, doesn't it? In the 90s, I wanted to be Clarissa but maybe I'm actually Sam:

Actually I still kind of want to be Clarissa. I thought I was immune to the current 90s revival but maybe I'm wrong about that...

I bought the fabric on Goldhawk Road in January - I think it came from Fancy Fabrics - and Nic actually picked it out. He liked it so much that I also bought it in blue. So I have 5 metres of that kicking around too that I'll have to decide what to do with! I think that I do like the fabric, though, even if it is a bit 90s in the worst way.


Nic still likes it and he really likes the finished dress. I wore it on Sunday and he kept telling me how much he liked it - partly, I think, because he didn't want me to put it in the bin! He thinks that I'm unsure about it because it's a bit different to my usual style and he might be right. I don't know. 

It's slightly more flattering from the back, maybe!

I did enjoy wearing this dress on Sunday. I think that if I can work out the fitting issues, it could be a good contender for a maxi dress pattern. I have some polka dot cotton lawn that would work well and in a softer, drapier fabric the whole preggo effect would be lessened as well. So I'll have to see. 

It was very hot on Sunday and Nic and I had a very lazy morning and early afternoon. I had a bout of insomnia at the end of last week and over the weekend so, in an attempt to give me some energy and to tire me out for later that night, Nic and I took a spontaneous walk across the fields to the Saxon Mill. I tried to get some good photos in the barley fields but it was too windy and I looked like a dick in most of them. Ah well, it was still a lovely walk!


So, considering I made this dress while stressed, slightly drunk and in the middle of the night, it turned out all right! I still needed to do a little bit of relaxing sewing, though, so on Saturday afternoon I did as Karen described, and hit up a well-loved and familiar pattern. Look out for another Emery dress on the blog - at some point when it's not too hot to put on a close-fitting dress. Not that I'm complaining about the good weather. I love it. I bought two more pairs of sandals yesterday, which brings my total up to 13657 pairs of sandals. I'm ready for the good weather to stay on indefinitely.


I'm also ready to eat enormous meals in this dress. It might not have to house a human baby but there's every possibility that it'll have to house a food baby at some point. 

Speaking of enormous meals, I must draw this to a close so that I can go out and buy supplies for a picnic dinner in the park this evening. See you all later!


Monday, June 22, 2015

You've a lovely voice. Very like Celine Dion!

Hey hey! Hello everyone! I hope you're all well - the craic here is ninety-one, as usual. I had such a thrilling work day that my line manager and I are considering making it a weekly competition to see who has completed the most tedious task that week. Luckily for me, this week I think she would actually take home the prize but it's still only Monday. There's time for me to have the arse bored off me yet, right? It's weird in my job in that the summer months are so quiet in comparison to all of the rest of the year, which... well, you have heard me complain about it before. It's not that I miss that frantic pace - I don't - but as it's how I am forced to work for most of the year, it's hard to get used to having a bit of downtime.

The good thing is that, as I'm not so horrendously busy I have a bit more energy to sew, which is really nice. As well as that, I had some completely awesome fabric to sew with - this Kokka Echino linen fabric:


Plush Addict got in touch with me a few weeks ago and offered to send me some fabric to make a dress. They've also sent me something for you guys, which I will tell you about shortly. Anyway, it's difficult to resist free fabric so of course I accepted. I spent ages browsing their frankly massive selection before deciding on this Kokka fabric, which I have wanted for ages. I've had it pinned on my sewing inspiration board on pinterest for about a year! Plush Addict sent me 2.5m so that I could make another McCall's 6696 shirt-dress. What can I say? The idea of a hipster shirt-dress was too hard to resist.

I was surprised by this fabric when it arrived. It's a cotton-linen blend and it's a heavier weight than I was expecting it to be, with a far less loose weave than I normally associate with linen. This didn't pose me any problems, but I was a little bit concerned that it might be a bit bulky when it came to making the collar and the buttonholes. I needn't have worried though. The fabric doesn't have much drape to it, but I had no problems at all when it came to making the dress.

Where I Come From dress - McCall's 6696 in Kokka fabric, worn with Swedish hasbeens heart medallion sandals

The only problem I had was one of my own stupidity. 2.5 metres turned out to be just enough to cut this dress out and I was so focused on making sure I had everything the right way up and on the straight grain (I'll often take low-risk risks with grain, but I didn't want to with linen as I really didn't want it to warp) that I didn't pay any attention to the print placement on the bodice. Which is how I ended up with stag headlights, so to speak:

Yeah. Those are some Stag Boobs, right there. Whale boobs one week, stag boobs the next. WTF Roisin.

I tried the dress on after attaching the button bands and before attaching the collar and it wasn't until then that I noticed the placement of the stags. I ran into the living room and asked Nic if he noticed anything unusual about the dress. He's a pretty observant guy, particularly when it comes to my handmade clothes, and thankfully he didn't notice the stags! This gives me reassurance that people won't be pointing and laughing in the street - well, not for this reason anyway - but of course, people reading sewing blogs are likely to notice! It's not ideal, but it could definitely be worse. It hasn't put me off the dress anyway, which is definitely one of my favourite dresses I've made this year.

Despite my initial reservations about the weight of the fabric, it turned out to be lovely to wear. Perhaps because it is a cotton-linen blend, it doesn't crease as badly as linen does, but it is cool and breathable to wear. It was gorgeous to work with too - it pressed well and didn't fray. Also, looking at the stag's cute little face made sewing this a treat. I didn't want to gather the fabric, though, as I did think it would be too hefty for that, so instead I pleated it at the lower back:


I didn't have any issues with the buttonholes, but elected not to even attempt sewing one in the collar stand, as you usually would. I mean, I'm never going to wear this buttoned up to the neck anyway. The only other way in which I deviated from the pattern was that I top-stitched the button bands rather than hand-sewing them. Nae bother.


The finished dress feels a little bit on the big side, but I think that this is because it's the style of the dress, and it's also that I'm more conscious of it because my preference is usually for slightly more fitted dresses. It might be more flattering if it were a little bit smaller, but I know that in hot and humid weather a slightly looser-fitting linen dress is going to be invaluable. I'm thinking that it's likely to be hot as balls in Paris in August, so I'm sure this dress will be really handy then.

It was a bit chillier than that on Sunday, though, so I wore it with a cardigan. Obviously.


I have one of these Hell Bunny cardigans in teal now... and it seems they they also come in navy. Cardigan Rainbow! I wore this yesterday when I was feeling a bit delicate thanks to a horrible atmospheric pressure headache. Nic and I went out for a long walk to get some fresh air (and to go to Lidl to buy cinnamon buns) and then I spent the afternoon knitting. Basically every time Nic looked over in my direction he told me how much he loved my dress, so I'm calling this one a big success. You know I'm all about the compliments, yeah?

Thanks so much to Plush Addict for sending me this gorgeous fabric. I really couldn't love the finished dress more! 

And, as I mentioned earlier, Plush Addict have also sent me something for you guys as well. I have a £25 voucher to give away to spend in their online store. The giveaway is open worldwide - Plush Addict ship internationally - and all you need to do is go and have a look on Plush Addict's site and leave me a comment to let me know what you would spend your £25 voucher on and what you would make with it. You can gain an extra entry by tweeting a link to this post - just make sure to mention me in the tweet so that I can see it! Please make sure that it's easy for me to find your contact email address in case you win.

I will keep the giveaway open until 9pm BST on Tuesday, 30th June 2015

Have fun browsing Plush Addict's massive selection. It genuinely took me ages to pick out the Kokka fabric - here are a few of the runners-up!

Makower yellow tulips poplin... this was also in the running to make a shirt-dress, but then almost every fabric is at the moment!

I love this Michael Miller chain link print cotton. For some reason it makes me think of The Crystal Maze! I think it would make a beautiful sun-dress. I'm pretty sure it's the fabric that Simplicity used for the sample dress on the envelope for the Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 1607, so you could do that with it!

Because if I like it, I want it in every colour... the Kokka Echino stag fabric in orange and purple.

Right - good luck. May the odds be ever in your favour, or something. I must go now - I have plans that involve a cocktail and the last two episodes of Mad Men. Goodnight!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

As I sat looking up at the Guinness Ad, I could never figure out how your man stayed up on the surfboard after fourteen pints of stout

Hello everyone! How's it going, there? Everything is grand here - Nic and I are just back from a lovely long weekend at home in Northern Ireland. It was brilliant. I had been feeling ill all last week with an annoying sinus infection that just wouldn't shift, but being at home made me feel better. I slept well and of course it helped that I had my parents to look after me, but whatever it was, it was great!

We arrived on Thursday evening and came back yesterday. The thing that prompted the visit home on this particular weekend is that I had bought Nic and I tickets to see Christy Moore, who was playing with the Máirtín O'Connor band in Dungannon Leisure Centre. I've seen Christy live before, at Warwick Arts Centre in 2006, and it's something I have wanted to do with Nic ever since we've been together. Christy Moore is an artist who means a lot to me, and he is absolutely brilliant live. When my cousin's husband told us he'd seen Christy live in the leisure centre, Nic declared that this would be the only way to see him. Luckily for us, this declaration coincided with Christy Moore touring and so, on Friday night, Nic and I joined my cousin and her husband on the basketball court at the leisure centre for an absolutely brilliant gig.

It was quite strange to be back in the leisure centre: the place where I tried (and failed) to learn to swim, where my friend Davina and I ate chips while we waited for the bus home after school, and where I (very occasionally) went to basketball matches on a Friday night. That said, it really was an excellent venue. The audience was small and engaged, and the sound was brilliant. It was a very emotional gig and thoroughly wonderful to see this living legend in an Irish crowd. Thankfully, Nic loved the gig as much as I did, and we had a splendid evening also. Before the gig, all four of us had dinner together in Cano's and we saw the night out in The Square Bar. A great Dungannon night out, even if Nic has never really managed to get over the disappointment that the bar itself is not actually square (it's in The Square.)

It was one of those holidays that felt longer than it was because we managed to fit so much in - mainly spending time with family and eating, but we also made it to the Armagh Show in Gosford Forest, which was every bit as much like an episode of Father Ted as I hoped it would be.


There's one out-and-out winner and rather than waste time with a speech I'll get on with the job of announcing the winner who, today, has come first in this competition to see who the winner is in the King of the Sheep competition that we have all come to today wondering who indeed will it be, who wins the prize of King of the Sheep.

We were very lucky to be able to spend so much time with our gorgeous nephews, who change so much every time I see them. My mum is always telling me that Joe reminds her of what I was like as a baby and I must say that I'm beginning to see the resemblance myself...

His shoes have giraffes on them and mine have birds, but I think we can all agree that Joe's footwear is totally awesome.

We were also very lucky with the weather. In a shocking turn of events, we were even able to sit outside in the sunshine at my sister Colleen's house! I brought home summer dresses and wasn't even cold. High summer indeed in Northern Ireland! The weather was so beautiful that I was able to take the opportunity to photograph a couple of finished projects.

As I've mentioned before, I decided to take part in the Outfit Along organised by Andi Satterlund and Lauren Lladybird. The idea is that you make complete outfit by sewing a dress (or a skirt or whatever, I guess) and knitting a cardigan or sweater to wear with it. There are suggested patterns but it's really up to you what to do. Anyway, the suggested cardigan is Andi's newest pattern, the Vianne. I'd been hanging out dying for this to be released ever since I saw Andi's completed one on instagram. I loved the lace pattern insert on either side of the button band. I didn't even know at that stage about the lovely lace work across the back. 

The pattern is designed to be knit with DK weight yarn. I bought a few balls of Cascade 220 Superwash in a colourway called 'flamingo' which I hoped would be a really shocking pink. It turned out to be a bit more subdued than I hoped for - and pretty close in colour to the pink of my Dilly Miette cardigan - I still need to find the perfect shocking pink yarn. Still, this colour is lovely and I have already worn this cardigan a lot:

Andi Satterlund Vianne cardigan, Doralee dress (Simplicity 2591) and Swedish hasbeens Mimmi sandals

This photo is such a goofy one of me, but it's the best one of the cardigan! I cast the Vianne on in the car when we were on our way down to Kent with my parents and it knit up really quickly. Actually, after that weekend I frogged what I had done - I can't remember why, but I did - so I think this was only really on my needles for a few weeks. I was a little bit hesitant with this pattern and enjoyed it less than I have done other projects but this was nothing at all to do with the pattern and everything to do with the fact that the Marion cardigan fit me so badly. Vianne is a similar shape to Marion, so I was a little bit worried, but I decided that it was worth trying anyway. I'm pretty happy with the outcome but, as ever, there are a few things I would change...


Here's a a close-up so that you can see the lace pattern around the neckline more clearly. I really love this stitch pattern, even though you can't see it especially well in this photo.

I knit the smallest size, which I think is a really good fit around the shoulders and a pretty good fit across my bust. I think I could stand to go up a size at the waist, maybe. I'm not really at my fighting weight in these photos - something about the food at home (potatoes) makes me a bit (potatoes) bloated (potatoes) and I think that a few days back on my regular diet will make the fit around the stomach a little more forgiving! I like wearing the cardigan open, anyway:

Nic caught me mid-reaction to a giant bluebottle dive-bombing my face, and this photo keeps making me laugh!

This pattern was very easy to follow. The back looks very complicated, but actually the stitch pattern was easy to memorise and so knitted very quickly:


I panicked about the cardigan a bit when I joined the back to the front, because the armholes seemed absolutely massive. I tried the cardigan on after knitting a few more rows of the body and the armholes just seemed impossibly long, and it looked like the cardigan itself was going to end up being much longer than I would like if I continued to follow the pattern to the letter. So I busked it a bit at this stage. I looked ahead to see what the stitch count should be on the last row before the waistband ribbing started and took a stab at how many more rows I'd need knit to get to my desired length, and then I worked the decreases closer together over that number of rows. It didn't work out perfectly - I should have had fewer rows and more ribbing - but I was pleased to have cobbled together a solution. Once I picked up the first sleeve, I was hugely reassured that the finished cardigan would be a decent fit. I powered through the sleeves and am happy with those, too. They're a much better fit than the ones on Marion.


I love how the pattern around the neckline is mirrored on either side of the mesh on the back, and I think that I'd like to knit this cardigan again with those details and a stockinette back. Andi has written a post on how to knit the back plain, which I will have to try to modify to my own ends at some point!

So, I don't totally love this cardigan but I am very pleased with it, and it's definitely a worthwhile addition to my massive collection of cardigans. Judging by how often I wear my Dilly cardigan, I know another pink cardigan will see lots of wear and I'm pretty happy with how this one looks.

I wasn't keen on the suggested dress pattern in the OAL - after my last Belladone dress, I decided that open backs on dresses isn't for me - so I was a little bit lost as to what to sew to match my pink cardigan. Then, weirdly, inspiration just hit, late at night. When I was trying to fall asleep I decided to try revisiting Simplicity 2591, which was one of the first dress patterns I sewed from, and I even knew the stash fabric to make it from. Isn't it funny when that happens?!

So, Simplicity 2591 is now out of print, but it was one of the first patterns I sewed from when I started sewing four or five years ago. I've changed size and shape a little bit since then, and after checking out all the measurements, I decided I'd try going a size down. I didn't toile this - but as my fabric had only cost me £4.99 per metre, I thought it worth the risk.

Doralee dress - Simplicity 2591 in rose-print cotton poplin from Birmingham market

I don't think I made any alterations to this one, so this is basically straight out of the packet. Man, I think I even hemmed it to the suggested length! I bought the rose print cotton poplin from a stall in Birmingham market when I had a shopping trip there with some sewing friends in March (I think a few of them might have bought some too - I can't completely remember) and I had 2 metres in my stash, which was the perfect amount for what I needed. This was a completely no-fuss project, which I sewed on a sunny morning on my week off a few weeks ago.


As with the cardigan, I'm pretty happy with this dress, even if I don't completely love it, and if I sew another 2591 there are a few fitting tweaks I'd like to make, such as lowering the armholes very slightly and reducing some of the bulk there, and also giving myself a bit more space in the bust. These are only minor things though, and not enough to prevent me from wearing this particular dress.

It's a shame this pattern is out of print now, because it really is cute and unusual. I no longer have any of the ones I sewed when I first started out, so there probably is room in my wardrobe for another 2591. I like the gentle gathering at the waist and the usual design of the pockets. My mum was delighted with the pockets and pointed them out to my granny when we visited her on Sunday, which is when I wore this dress. My auntie Jeanette liked my shoes, which was also pleasing:

Yeah, that's right. And I got another pair of clogs in the post today. Insert Ron Swanson Don't Even Care gif.

It was a beautiful day on Sunday and I was able to put this whole outfit through its paces by wearing it to play in the park with my nephews, visit my granny, eat lots of sandwiches and sit outside in the sunshine with my sister, brother-in-law, parents and Nic, watching the dogs play and catching up on local gossip. This dress is already full of happy memories, and I ended that day full of noodles. You can't beat holidays, lads.

Anyway - you've had to tolerate seven million photographs of me, and also it's getting pretty late here and I have stuff I need to do before I go to bed. Before I go, here are some photos of the dogs of the weekend...


My sister Colleen had a difficult start to the year, but Lola joining the family has helped put a smile back onto her face. She's a shih tzu, apparently, but I think she's actually an Ewok. She's ridiculously cute, at any rate.


...and who can forget our Mini?! My parents were trying to work out how old she is, and we came to the conclusion that she must be seven, because we've had Nic for longer than we've had her. Certainly, she's finding it more difficult now to jump up onto the sofa and she's become tolerant in her old age. I saw her allowing Joe to stroke her and she even tolerated Lola in the house. She still barks at the postman who, more than once, has threatened to stop delivering to our house. It would take far more than her being cheeky to the postman to knock her from her pedestal in our house, however. She's top dog by some long way...

Pupstagram

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

We have to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles and work. Or waffles, friends, work. But work has to come third.

Heeeeeyy you guys! It's Wednesday afternoon and I am utterly exhausted after a three-day event at work. I can't promise this post is going to be any too coherent, sorry! They've been good days, but very long and very tiring. Nic is out for the evening, so I am recovering in the best way I know how at the moment: knitting, drinking gin and watching trashy TV. I'm pretty predictable, but then you all know that, I guess.

And, speaking of predictable... I sewed another dress with anchors on it!

Lolita Elle dress - Sewaholic Cambie bodice and Deer and Doe Belladone skirt, worn with Red or Dead 'Shirley' shoes

I wasn't feeling well on Sunday, when we took these photos, but I thought that getting dressed up and going out into the sunshine would help. I think I look grand apart from my face, but who worries about your face when you have whales on your dress?!


It was going to be difficult to avoid ending up with a whale on my boob. So, there it is.

Anyway, yeah, the dress! I was in a local fabric shop last week with Nic, when I saw this fabric. It's a Michael Miller print from the Ahoy Matey range from a few years ago. I sewed a few dresses from that range and none of them fit any more, womp womp. There was only 1.4m left of this fabric - which was kind of the one that got away - but I thought, well, I can make some cushions out of it or something. So I made a dress. Lol.


OBVIOUSLY I wore it with my lobster cardigan and my fish bag because duh, and we went to Yo! Sushi for lunch. Vegetarian sushi, though.

Not having much fabric to play with, I needed a skirt pattern that didn't eat up a lot of fabric. I've made a Cambie dress with a pleated skirt before, but I remembered that Liz had paired the Cambie bodice and Belladone skirt to excellent effect, so I decided to give that a go. And, Liz was right, they pair beautifully together! I had just enough fabric to cut everything out on grain as well, which was surprising and pleasing given that this print is directional. I omitted the waistband - I find that the length of the bodice works better on me without it - and I didn't have enough self-fabric for the hem facing. But, yeah. 1.4m of fabric. BOOM! I will definitely be using this combination again.

I made two slight adjustments to the Cambie bodice. I curved the waist darts (again, a suggestion that Liz made to me last year, and it's now an adjustment that I often do) and I redrew the bodice front piece so that the neckline comes up a little bit higher. It's not that the Cambie dress is low-cut or anything - it just ends up a little bit low on me as drafted and, you know, flashing my bra. Ain't nobody got time for that. This was a simple adjustment to do, and I'm pleased that my bra isn't hanging out, but I think it possibly gives me a bit of a uniboob vibe. I think I can get away with it a bit in this dress though, because there's a whale on my boob, you know?

I like this dress a lot. I was really feeling like crap on Sunday - after taking these photos, I had to go home and spend the afternoon lying still on the sofa - but I felt like I looked pretty cute. I really like the shape of the Belladone skirt and it's nice to get the old knees out for the summer, right? I think it will look more casual and summery with sandals instead of closed-toe shoes, but I just got these shoes and I had to wear them...


AWWWW YEAH. Red glitter shoes. Not much more to say than that, right? I have a pair of red sequin shoes Irregular Choice shoes, but I ration how often I wear them because they're old now, and I don't want to wear them out. I bought these Red or Dead shoes on ebay, as the style is a few years old now. They're silly and fun, which is why I like them, but I also like seeing how much little girls on the street love them. It's really cute.


Yeah. Dressing in a mature fashion isn't really for me. Oh well.

Right, lads and lassies. I'm going to peace out here. I've started knitting the Audrey in Unst cardigan and, man, that twisted ribbing is NO JOKE. If I want to finish this cardigan before I'm too old to wear it, I'd better crack on with it! Goodnight everyone!

Friday, June 05, 2015

I only hate sunburn and hangovers. This is just business.

Hey everyone, happy Friday! It has rolled around more quickly than I expected it would, given that I was back at work this week. It was helped by the fact that Nic and I booked a holiday to Paris for later in the summer. YEAH BOI. We're going to have ten days in Paris and we're staying in a beautiful apartment in Montmartre, although it is a different one to the place where we have stayed for the last few years. Maybe we'll grow tired of Paris eventually, but we're not tired of it yet. In any case, it's really good to have a holiday to look forward to.

It's been a decent week, all in all. Work is in a quieter spot at the moment, which is nice. There are a few important activities coming up over the next couple of months, but it's much less frantic a pace than it is throughout the rest of the year. The office itself is horrible in the summer months - it's one of those modern buildings that's all glass and steel and where the windows only open by decree from estate management, who are based on another site. Luckily, I'm able to work at home, and that's what I've been doing this week.

One of the really good things about working from home is being able to use my commuting time for other things. Often that's sleeping, but this morning it was a little bit of sewing. Although my commute is short, it can be very draining all the same (you know, the public) so not having to do it also usually leaves me with more energy in evenings. Nic was out on Tuesday evening and I made a dress - a nautical Cambie/Belladone combination that I will try to photograph over the weekend - and this week I also finished my Andi Satterlund Vianne cardigan. It's blocking away as I speak. So, it's all been very productive!

I've been sewing away but recently I've bought or been given a few lovely RTW dresses. Last month, Tom from Carousel Clothing in Dublin got in touch with me and asked me if I would be interested in learning about his own brand, Circus, and choosing a dress to try out. I don't often accept these sorts of requests but I was interested by the brand. Their patterns are cut in Dublin, and their fabrics are printed in India, where their clothes are made. I had a look through the catalogue and chose the Brigitte dress, which is €65.

Circus clothing Brigitte dress*, worn with Swedish hasbeens Frederica sandals

I used to buy a lot of dresses. A lot. Nowadays I don't, and when I do, it's usually because it's a fabric or a cut that I either wouldn't able to replicate or just wouldn't replicate. This is the latter. I've only rarely seen a striped fabric that I would want to buy, and even if I did - well, my attention span is genuinely not sufficient to faff around with stripe matching. So this dress is kind of perfect for me!

I'm uncomfortable with ragging on the quality of RTW clothing - after all, ALL clothing is hand-made - but I don't like buying or wearing cheaply made clothing. I was pretty impressed with the quality of this dress. It's made from a good quality, medium weight slubby cotton. It isn't lined, but this isn't an issue for me with a summer dress. The neck and armholes are finished with self-fabric binding and the dress fastens with a side lapped zip. The zip is really lovely, actually, if you can believe that - it's a very high-quality metal zip. Thumbs up all around for quality. The dress comes with a self-fabric sash belt which - well, look, I guess other people can make those work, but I can't. I always end up looking like a sack of potatoes that has been badly tied around the middle. I think this dress looks grand without it, but I will be looking out for a nice shiny patent red or navy belt.

I went full-on nautical when I wore this the other day, pairing it with another Lobster-themed garment...

Collectif Lucy Lobster cardigan

I bought this cardigan as soon as Char pointed it out to me and I am pleased to find it will work with dresses other than my lobster dress. I bought the Punky Pins necklace over the weekend from a shop in Leamington... and I'm very tempted to go back in and buy the lighthouse one as well. I also have the matching earrings. I'm a sucker for anything nautical, basically, because I am lame.

Hold Fast! You can see the dress fabric in more detail in this photo

The Brigitte dress has the sort of silhouette that I gravitate towards - a fitted bodice with a gathered skirt - and it fits true to the size chart on the website. I asked for a size 8 and I think it fits very nicely for an off-the rack dress. It's very lovely all round and it's a dress I'll wear lots in the hot weather - it's breezy and cool and cute.

This awesome vintage handbag was a gift from my friend Louise, and I bought the red hasbeens on deep sale over the winter

Thanks to Tom from Carousel for sending me this lovely dress. I like it so much I have my eye on the gingham Ava dress... which seems to be in the perfect large-scale 100% cotton gingham that is basically impossible to find:


Right-o, lads. My uncharacteristic burst of energy this morning has me seriously flagging now, so I'm away here to brew up a massive pot of coffee and get my head back into checking spreadsheets. WOO YEAH.

Disclosure: I was sent the dress featured in this post for free for a review. I was not otherwise compensated for this post and none of the links in this post are sponsored. My opinions are my own.

Monday, June 01, 2015

I know I look square, but I'm like my father's tractor. I take a while to warm up, but once I get going I can turn your topsoil till the cows come home.

Hellllooo! Actually no I should say, "howdy y'all" because Nic and I have been watching Nashville again.

That's how finding out that S3 is online made me feel

Anyway. I was back at work today after a pretty blissful week off and, all things considered, it wasn't too bad. I sweetened the deal for myself a little bit by making sure that I would have a shoe delivery waiting for me when I got home from work. I also made sure that I had some carrot cake waiting for me when I got home (my friend Amy baked some for us over the weekend) so I'm basically winning right now, right?

Having a week off work was really good. After we got back from the coast and my parents went back to Northern Ireland, Nic and I decided to really rest and relax. It was brilliant. We didn't really go anywhere and mainly spent a lot of time dandering around in the sunshine, watching stupid films and chilling out. I spent some time knitting and sewing, and we were able to hang out with friends as well. I hadn't really realised until I wasn't at work how much I needed the break - I slept well for the first time in months and all the tension that I've been carrying around in my neck and shoulders suddenly lifted. It was very valuable and a good reminder of how important it is to prioritise life over work. I went back to work today feeling totally refreshed, which is excellent! Of course, it helps that I have a long weekend coming up next weekend - Nic and I are going back to Northern Ireland for a few days to go to a gig and to spend some time with family, which is going to be lovely.


I'm looking forward to seeing Daddy's cheeky face again next week. Nic took this photo of us on the beach at Sandgate last weekend - Daddy isn't as serious as he looks here though!

I'm hoping that I can keep carrying this good mood and positive attitude towards work with me over the next few months, but I'm sure that I can. Life is really very good right now, with lots of very exciting things on the horizon.

So, as I mentioned, I spent a little bit of time sewing this week. My desire to sew has really been subject to ebb and flow this year, but last week inspiration struck. I decided to take part in the Outfit Along being hosted by Lauren Lladybird and Andi Satterlund and the other night I was hit with inspiration as to which dress pattern to use: an old favourite, Simplicity 2591. I don't have any photos of that to show you yet, but I so enjoyed sewing it that it prompted me to revisit another favourite Simplicity pattern - this time, Simplicity 2444.

18th Arrondissement dress: Simplicity 2444 in Michael Miller 'Gay Paree' fabric, worn with my Hetty cardigan and Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon shoes

Sewing this was honestly sort of weird to me - you know, another Simplicity 2444 in a Paris-themed fabric - and, I must admit that immediately after I finished it, I berated myself for stepping in the same stream twice. But of course, you never really do step in the same stream twice.


In any case, very few of my Paris-themed dresses fit me now, and similarly few Simplicity 2444s, so it really was high time to revisit this lovely pattern. What I should do with this fabric, which I had bought on impulse back in January, had been bugging me for a while. Going old-school Dolly Clackett on it seemed to work!



There isn't a great deal to say about sewing this. I sewed a size 8 basically straight out of the packet - the only alteration I made was to use a larger seam allowance at the shoulder seams, because this is an alteration I always make, and I omitted the pockets. I hardly ever sew pockets in dresses now, especially not if they're side-seam pockets. I didn't look at the instructions but I sewed pretty much to them - I really like the way the instructions have you sew the front, then the back, then sew them together (rather than sew the bodice and then sew it to the skirt).  I used white bias binding for the armholes and a white concealed zip, both of which I had in my stash.


This fabric had hung around in my stash for a while because I wasn't sure whether the white background would suit my intensely Irish skin but, as I've taken a bit of sun recently and my skin is less blue than usual, I think it's okay. Obviously, I was charmed by the print also...


Nic actually picked this fabric out. I bought it on impulse, but mainly because he liked it so much - probably because it reminded us both so much of one of our favourite places in the world, Montmartre. We didn't exchange gifts for our first wedding anniversary but we have been talking about going back to Paris at some point this year. We might not make it as there are other travel opportunities that might take priority, but in case we do, I'm happy to have another Paris dress in my wardrobe. Even if it does mean that I'm increasingly becoming a pastiche of my blog personality.

Mainly it felt good to sit down at my sewing machine again, you know? So much so that I have another two dresses cut out to sew in the near future. As always, I have more plans than I have time, but I'm getting better at making that time for myself.

I wore this dress on Saturday afternoon - we had been out on Friday night, so Saturday morning consisted of pyjamas and nothing else - to have ice-cream in the park with Nic, drinks in the pub with friends, and dinner round at the house of different friends. It was a very lovely day. On Sunday, Nic and I went to Coventry with Rick and Lauren to a record fair and I found further evidence that I am becoming a parody of myself:


Yes, that IS in fact a 12inch record featuring the Cagney & Lacey theme tune and "other American television themes". Actually, the version that they have of the Cagney & Lacey theme is not that which is used on the show, but it's still totally amazing that such a thing exists. What's even better is that side B is just Mike Post incidental music from cop shows. My love of Mike Post is well-documented, so this was a completely awesome find. I mean, he's my favourite composer. Nic laughed when I told him that, but I'm totally serious. You tell me the man who wrote the theme to Murder One isn't a stone cold genius.

Right, anyway, that's enough of that. I'd need to slide on here because I'm tired, and the rest of that carrot cake is calling to me. I'LL BE RIGHT THERE CARROT CAKE.

Did I hear you say cake?