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!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Some little girls grow up wanting ponies; I always wanted to be a widow.

Hellllooo! I guess it's only been a week since I last posted but it feels longer, probably because it included a little mini holiday to visit my family in Northern Ireland. We were only home for a long weekend but managed to fit so much in - it was wonderful. It was my nephew Fionn's first birthday and my other baby nephew, Joe (who will be one next month) walked for the first time. This was really exciting because we were there to see it - my mum looks after him during the week while my sister is at work, so we were there when it happened. We had lunch with my sister in her new house, dinner with my aunt and I even had time to fit in a little bit of fabric shopping in Belfast with Kerry from Kestrel Makes - who happened to be visiting her family at the same time.

Being at home while Joe was there was pretty intense. He's an incredibly active baby - he never stops moving - and he's very funny and charming. It was wonderful and exhausting and emotional. It was very emotional and I got a bit teary on the flight back to Birmingham - because I'm not sure when I'll next be home, I know the baby I got to know so well over the last few days will be very different! It was emotional also because I don't want to have children of my own. Spending so much time with Joe (and the shorter time we got to spend with Fionn) hasn't changed that - if anything, it's made me more sure that it's not for me - but it also made me really realise what I will miss. I'll get lots of the good stuff by being an aunty, though, so it's not a sad feeling - it just felt like pretty grown-up thoughts. Still - if having grown-up thoughts gets the fucking Iggle Piggle song out of my head, it's all good. Because seriously, how do you parents cope with that and Balamory and all the rest of it?!

So anyway, that's the craic there. I had yesterday off work - and I spent it in a very domesticated fashion by cleaning, cooking and sewing - and then it was back to work with a bit of a bump today. It's all good though - I finally got my letter from HR confirming my promotion (email from Nic about the delay said, "I imagine it's like the Vatican in Father Ted over there" and he's not wrong) and, you know, it's nearly the weekend. And here's a wee new dress to blog about too! It's taken me long enough to get to it, right?

This dress is the result of some pattern testing I did recently for By Hand London. Victoria emailed and asked would I be interested in testing the Sabrina dress, which is a new pattern that's available in PDF only. Now, I've got to tell you. I am not a fan of PDF patterns. At all. I mean - I get that they are convenient for a lot of reasons, I do. But, god. I REALLY hate taping those fuckers together. Like, seriously. I bought the Sinbad and Sailor Hepworth dress a couple of weeks ago and haven't even printed it out yet, that's how much I hate doing it. So I can't compare the PDF experience here against other PDF patterns because I avoid them. This one was fine - I received it already printed out, and I guess taping it together wasn't all bad. It was pretty easy. I still bitched about it to Nic while I was doing it, though.

The Sabrina dress comes with two variations. One is a strappy, princess seamed dress which buttons down the front. It's cute, if that's your thing, and it's very now as the 90s are back in again. It really called to mind that fashion of wearing strappy baby-doll dresses over t-shirts:

It looks great on Alicia Silverstone here - man, what doesn't - but it's not very me. So I went for the other variation, which is a princess-seamed a-line dress.

As I was testing, I sewed the dress according to my measurements and, initially, without any fit modifications. I cut the size 10, which is grand around the hips and waist, but I ended up going back and taking the princess seams in substantially around the bust. So when I sew this again, I'll cut an 8 at the bodice and grade out to a 10 elsewhere.

Thelma dress - By Hand London Sabrina dress and Swedish hasbeens heart sandals

The fit on this dress is far from perfect. I forgot to get photos of the back but there's a little bit of gaping at the back neckline and I have some fabric pooling at the lower back - which I'm not really sure how to fix on a dress that doesn't have a waist seam. By Hand London are going to be running a Sabrina sew along so hopefully this is one of the fit adjustments they'll cover. The day I had these photos taken I was a little bit bloated - it was a VERY indulgent weekend - so it looks tighter around the waist than it really is on a normal day. But I think that the princess seams allow for lots of tinkering with fit, even for a fairly lazy fitter like me, so I'm confident that I can make this work.

Here's an arty close-up of the bodice. I'm pretending to pick plums. DISCLAIMER: I didn't pick any plums, although I did pick an apple from another tree the following day. You can see I could probably do with taking some width out of the neckline too, but that's no biggie. If the fabric looks familiar it's because I already have a dress made from this cute star-print Ankara - the Bedelia dress. I had 5 metres of it, so more than enough for two dresses!

Do you like my background props? There's a blue bucket in one photo and this barrel in the other. That was totally intentional and very significant. Also, I think this might be the worst and most goofy photo of me ever, which is why I felt the need to include it.

I wasn't overwhelmed with love for this dress when I finished it, I must admit - mainly because I still have some way to go on the fit and also, it didn't look amazing on the hanger. I do like it on, though - I wore it on Sunday to go for lunch and to my nephew's birthday party (see comment above about indulgent eating!) and it was comfortable and I felt cute in it all day. I like the a-line shape, which is a bit different to my usual full-skirted silhouette. I like the above-the-knee length and I think this dress will work as the weather grows colder. It'll look good with tights, I think. And I have plenty of pink shoes. I have some pink tights squirrelled away somewhere that will make me look like some sort of mad lollipop when it gets colder. 

So that's the craic with the Sabrina dress. It's not an unqualified success - I'm thinking of this as more of a wearable toile. There's definitely potential there, I think. I enjoyed pattern testing this dress, also. The turnaround was quick and - well, I've already told you about the crabbing I did about PDF patterns in general. I like slowing down and thinking about sewing in a slightly different way and although the turnaround time was reasonably short, the deadline didn't stress me out. I wasn't asked to blog about this dress or promote the pattern in any way - but hey, it's a finished object and I like it, so there it is.

Now, I have dinner to make and things to do so I'm away here. I'll catch you guys soon!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Did someone talk about a job opening? Because guess who's got two thumbs and was just cleared of insurance fraud?

Hello hello! What's up, pups? I'm rattling through this week and after I finish for the day tomorrow I have a little bit of time off, hurrah!

I've been having a good week for a number of reasons but probably one of the best ones is that I had a job interview on Monday for a promotion in my department and I got it. YEAH BOI. Interviewing for an internal job is really stressful - it's very weird being interviewed by your colleagues, and especially so when you know that if you don't get the job, you have to keep on working with these people. I've been there, and that sucks. That sucks hairy balls. The interview was nerve-wracking as fuck so when I heard that I'd been successful I was more exhausted and relieved than anything else. Anyway, by now I'm feeling more like:

Tell me there isn't a Ron Swanson gif for every occasion and I will laugh in your face

Anyway - it's been a busy week at work so I haven't really got around to celebrating but I plan to tonight and over the weekend. I have a bottle of champagne in the fridge and everything. I've worked really hard over the last year and a half in this job and have learned so much and it feels really good to know that I'm good at my job, and to be rewarded for it. I mean yeah: I'm going to be doing plenty of crabbing over the next few months when work is really busy, but you know. That's always the way.

So that is the craic with me this week. AND I have a new dress to show you as well! I made this dress a few weeks ago when Nic was in Amsterdam at a conference - if you read this blog regularly you might remember that weekend I had a sewing, gin and watching Luther binge. Ah. Good times. Anyway, I can't remember the exact circumstances around making this dress but the story of it is, I saw the fabric in the haberdashery department in House of Fraser in Birmingham. Annoyingly, they were selling a knitting bag made from it but not the fabric itself but this was enough to convince me that I needed it in my life:

The Fox and The Houndstooth by Andie Hanna for Robert Kaufman fabrics

I had seen this print in various online fabric shops but it took seeing it in real life to make me really want it. I love this combination of colours and the little foxes have the CUTEST faces. I ended up buying it from Fabric Inspirations - this isn't an affiliate link, but they're absolutely brilliant. They have a fab range, great prices and I've never been unhappy with an order from them.

So anyway, given the cuteness of the foxes I had to make a similarly cute dress from it. And WHOMP, THERE IT IS:

Tommy Timberlake dress - By Hand London Flora dress with a gathered skirt, worn with Swedish hasbeens heart sandals in red

This isn't the dress I intended to make, really. I had been thinking about making another Flora dress with a pleated skirt, and maybe using the skirt pieces from Simplicity 1419 again. Something about this print resisted that, though. Maybe it was the thought of folding those little foxy faces into pleats that prevented me, I don't know.

I do think the potential downside to gathering the skirt on this dress is that - well, it really does look like an adult-sized version of a little girl's party dress. It does. Less so on my body than on the hanger,  in fairness. But yeah. This is a childish dress. I don't shy away from that and it doesn't make me dislike the dress. I recognise that I am lucky enough to work somewhere in which a dress with a print like this is totally acceptable attire. Dressing in this way hasn't prevented me from progressing in my career, as this week has proven. So, essentially, I'm good with it.

Excellent advice there, Joe.

The bodice and a slight case of crazy face

In terms of the Flora pattern - since making and wearing this dress I've realised I need to make a couple of minor adjustments to the next one I make. Namely, curving those waist darts slightly to address the slight wrinkling you see under the bust there. But otherwise, I am really delighted with this dress and I will be adding a gathered skirt to the Flora bodice again. I think it's pretty cute.

I wore this dress on Sunday. Nic and I had breakfast with friends and then went for a walk in the fields to the Saxon Mill. I can't believe how lovely the weather has been and it's just as well, really. I've been on a sandals-buying binge all summer and I want to keep wearing them for as long as possible. I've amassed quite the collection of Swedish hasbeens clogs and I have another pair on their way to me as we speak (hey, I had to buy a celebratory pair of Promotion Shoes, right?)

Red peep-toe sandals: always a classic!

Every time I post a picture of my Swedish hasbeens on instagram, I get questions asking me if they are comfortable. It's always hard to say whether a pair of shoes is comfortable but I do find these shoes comfortable once they've been broken in. The wooden sole takes a bit of getting used to because it's totally inflexible and also the leather can be quite stiff. These red heart sandals took a fair few wears to break in but the same pair in pink were comfortable and soft from the word go. So, it varies. Cici Marie wrote a nice little post about how to break them in, if you're curious. Anyway, I know it's autumn now so this is probably totally irrelevant to most of us in the Northern Hemisphere - but still. I fully intend to wear these with tights as the weather gets colder.

Derp face out-take for my girl Heather B. I don't even know what I was doing here. I mean, apart from looking MAJORLY HOT, obviously.

So anyway. That's the craic there with my dress. The weekend I made it, as well as binge-watching Luther, I binge-watched Parks and Recreation. Ah that show makes me happy. The little foxes on the print reminded me so much of Tom Haverford, he had to get a shout-out in the name.

There's one fox wearing an argyle sweater:

There's one fox wearing a bow-tie:

There's one fox wearing a hat:

And there's one little fox wearing a fedora and a waistcoat...

So, on the advice of Tommy Timberlake and the Regal Meagle, I'm away here to drink champagne and eat cake.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Before you worked here, were you an ass scientist? Because your ass... blah-blah-blah. You get the point.

Afternoon, all! It's been a hectic week here at Clackett Mansions. Work has been extremely busy - I've been in non-stop meetings, or at least it feels like it, since the dawn of time. I think actual time was really just Wednesday and Thursday, but time moves more slowly in the office, doesn't it?! It's been a good week, though. Work was good - the long meetings were the culmination of a couple of weeks of really intense work, and they went really well. It's satisfying to me to see how much I have learned in the fifteen months since I changed jobs. I'm still getting used to feeling good about work, and although things are about to get really crazy (and will stay that way until around about next May) I feel okay about it. So: yay!

Also, it was my birthday this week and I had a very lovely day. I had to be in work, but Nic got my day off to a good start by waking me up with tea, birthday cake and my birthday present. After work, I went to the pub with friends and then we went for dinner. And I had Friday off work, and went for Business Lunch at Kayal. Really, what could be better than that?! I did try to sew a special birthday dress but I was short on time, and the dress I started ended up being kind of a disaster (never sew while extremely tired, kids!) so I binned it. Ah well. You win some, you lose some. I wore my Buttons and Bows dress instead, and felt awesome in it.

So anyway, that's the craic with me this week. It's been really good and I have high hopes for next week, too. I have a big work thing on Monday which could be exciting if it goes well, and then I have a short week/long weekend ahead of me in which I'm off home to visit my family. I even have a day to myself, which is going to be a nice indulgent sewing day. Oh, and I'm expecting to get some shoes in the post as well. It's a good week if it includes a shoe delivery, right?

As usual, I have a dress to blog about today. Another Emery dress, because duh. I think we're all going to just have to be real here and acknowledge the fact that probably every other blog post is going to be about an Emery dress.

I bought the fabric for this dress when I met some sewing friends in London to go to the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican. As ever, I went to Goldhawk Road fully intending NOT to buy fabric and yeah. That didn't work out. But basically, Classic Textiles had a Liberty lawn I've had my eye on for a while, so I bought 1.5 metres of it and went for it.

Half-Cut, Wholly Yours dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress in Liberty 'Jack and Charlie' tana lawn, worn with Irregular Choice Hello Ha shoes*

There's not too much to say here, except that I probably shouldn't have been so tight and bought two metres instead of a metre and a half because this dress is definitely shorter than I would usually go for. Ah anyway, it's fine. Because I know we're all so desperate to get into our OMGTIGHTS and I think this length will work with tights when it gets colder.

I do love this print, which is a series of pears. What I like less is that it was part of some sort of collaboration between Jamie Oliver and Liberty and I find Jamie Oliver almost unbearably irritating. It's nothing personal, Jamie. I find that to be the case with almost everyone on TV, because I'm very easily irritated and it's why I don't have a TV. And he's a lot LESS irritating than Gordon Ramsay, or anyone involved with the Great British Bake Off (I swear, Sue Perkins' voice actually raises my blood pressure) Sigh. But anyway, I like the print and I like the fabric a lot.

You can see the pears closer up here. Jamie Oliver notwithstanding, I really do like this print a lot, and I love the variety of colours in there. It means I can wear this dress with basically all of my cardigans, which is a good thing when you work in an air-conditioned office. Also. I think that Liberty lawn and the Emery dress are a good match so there will certainly be more of these, provided I can continue to find bargain Liberty prints at Classic Textiles or elsewhere. At full price, lovely as it is, it's a bit too rich for my blood.

Here's one more picture because why not.

It's really nice having a couple of go-to patterns that fit me well and which are in a style I like. I appreciate that it might not make for the most exciting blogging, but I'm fine with that. I like the fact that I can sew (and nicely finish) an Emery dress in a few hours and have a dress that fits me and that I like to wear and that I feel good in. I have a special one made all ready for my big work thing next week, too.

So, that's the craic there anyway. I sort of feel like I should have a jazzier blog post this afternoon because this is my 500th blog post! 500 posts. God, you'd think I'd have better things to be at with my time. Not to get all reflective on you all - especially after the last, navel-gazing why do I blog post, but 500 posts is a nice milestone to have reached. Blogging here has meant so much to me in the time I've been doing it. It's been a diary, a space for catharsis, a creative outlet and a wonderful, wonderful way to make friends. Even if it is a weird thing to do, when you think about it. So to all of you who have been reading - either more recently, or over entire 500 posts of nonsense, thank you! To celebrate, I might go and crack into some of my birthday presents. My friends know me well and among my gifts were a bottle of champagne, a bottle of red wine and a bottle of Scottish gin.


I don't even like Will and Grace. But Karen is the best.

Monday, September 22, 2014

My grandmother was missing that tooth and she was the most beautiful woman on her oil rig.

Hello all! Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a good weekend - I did. So good, in fact, that I spent all day yesterday in my pyjamas with a raging hangover. I came by it honestly, though, thanks to a lot of prosecco and gin on Saturday night with friends, and a living room disco until five in the morning. It has to be done sometimes and, after a stressful few weeks it was nice to cut loose. I had a bit of good news on Friday afternoon so I was ready to celebrate. I should know more next week and I can only hope for another hangover on the same scale!

So. If you're a reader of sewing blogs, I'm sure you're aware of the blog hop that's been going around about the writing process. I don't normally go in for blog hops, to be honest, but I have found every post I have read on this subject to be interesting. So when the hilarious Sue of A Colourful Canvas  nominated me last week, I was happy to take part. Here goes!

Why do I write?
Honestly? I'm not totally sure! The existence of this blog predates my sewing. I'm not really a sewing blogger - for the first couple of years that I was blogging here, I was blogging about clothes I had bought. Before that I was just blogging about what I thought about stuff.

I BOUGHT this dress! It's from Cath Kidston and I bought it a few weeks ago. At one stage, I was only blogging stuff I bought but since I've been sewing that has felt increasingly weird. Anyway - I bought this dress because I thought it was cute. I rarely buy RTW clothes these days and when I do, it's usually because the print or shape is something I wouldn't be able to recreate myself. As it happens, fabric with this print is available to buy, but it's canvas rather than the soft barkcloth that this dress is made from. I like this dress a lot and have worn it a few times since I bought it. Oh and I'm wearing it with pink Swedish hasbeens heart sandals which are the cutest shoes I've bought in ages.

Before I had this blog, I had a blog on my university blog network that was mainly about me ragging on the PCGE course I was doing, talking about pop culture stuff and things that were going on in my life. When I think about it, I have always been a writer. As a small child I kept diaries and in my teens I was a letter-writer with lots of penpals. At school, my best friend Emma and I wrote each other hundreds of notes and letters and comic strips. I still have them all. I like to think that my cartoon drawings of our teachers, of Jim McDonald from Coronation Street (it's a long story) and ugly babies that look like potatoes predates my love of a well-timed gif. I write because I enjoy writing, and it's just a nice bonus that people like to read what I write.

What am I working on now?
I don't have anything on the go at the minute. As I basically exclusively sew cotton dresses, which don't take very long to sew, I don't usually have UFOs hanging around. I'm hoping to get some time to sew a fun dress this week as it's my birthday soon and I'd like to have something new to wear. But if I don't have time, it's no biggie. I have a lot of clothes. I do have a few dresses in the queue that I'd like to get to soon: a v-backed Emery dress with short sleeves, from some cute fabric I have with elephants on it; a By Hand London Holly dress from some beautiful silk that was a gift from a friend; a Blue Gingerdoll Billie Jean dress, for which I haven't chosen the fabric yet and another Emery dress in some cute fox-print poplin I bought in Barry's a few months ago. I always have lots of ideas - I just lack the time to execute them! I also have a bit of a blogging backlog. For instance - I just never got around to blogging this Anna dress I made months ago:

Birdie Loon dress - this is an Anna dress with a gathered skirt made from Cloud 9 fabric from Berylune. I made (and photographed) this months ago - maybe in April? Anyway, it was a little bit too big when I made it and it's bigger again now, and the moment for blogging it just seemed to pass. It's shame though, because it's very cute. I love the colours and the print, which looks abstract from a distance. I'm wearing it here with Topshop wedges, Hell Bunny cardigan and green Zatchels satchel.

How does my blog differ from other sewing blogs?
Ha ha! Okay, it mainly differs from other sewing blogs in as much as it's not really a sewing blog. Yeah, sewing is what I mainly write about these days, because it's how I spend most of my free time. Also, it's what most of my readers come for, I think - so it's why I have mostly stopped blogging about stuff I have bought. Well, that and the fact that these days I mostly wear things I have made myself. My blog is not really a sewing blog. I don't do tutorials, I rarely show you the inside of my garments - hey, once you've seen one nicely-finished seam, you've seen them all, right? - I have ZERO interest in writing a sewing book or being sponsored by a fabric store or setting up my own pattern company. I don't want to sew for a living, and I don't want to quit my day job to be a blogger. And, I've got to be honest, here, those aren't the blogs (or at least, the blog posts) that I like to read.

I sew because I love pretty clothes and I like learning new things, and I write about it...well, for the reasons I outlined above. I do write a bit about construction and I'll describe any fitting challenges I have had, but that's as technical as I'm apt to get. It's not to say that I dislike reading very detailed posts about construction or whatever, but that's not what my blog is about. I also like to write about what's going on in my life. I do get quite personal on here and I like other blogs that have a personal face. You all saw my handmade wedding dress, but I wrote a lot more about the wedding than I did about making the dress. This blog is about me. Sewing is just a part of that. I'm not going to lie: there are times when I have worried that I'm not serious enough about sewing, and that people out there might be judging me for being a frivolous, shit-at-sewing, no-overlocker-having basic bitch.

But then I remind myself that, you know. Whatever. I like it here. That's the main thing.

Another picture of the Birdie Loon dress - I feel guilty for never blogging it.

How does my writing process work?
Writing process is maybe a grand way of describing it, to be honest. I don't have as much time for blogging now as I used to. When I get the chance, I try to draft a blog post on paper or in an an email draft. I usually have a couple of posts worth of material waiting to be blogged, which means that even  if I am too busy (or ill, or whatever) to sew or get out and about, I have stuff to write about. Since Scott and Bailey has been back on TV I've been trying to carve out some time to write about that, because I love writing about TV but sadly, it's looking unlikely that I'll have the time to do that. Maybe I'll do a whole-series recap at the end. Anyway - yeah, then after that, it's just a case of sitting down and writing. It usually helps if I've been out and done something fun because, to be honest, I find just writing about sewing to be pretty dry. I like having news to share and stupid jokes to crack. One of the reasons why I'm not interested in being in a sewing store network or trying to write a book or anything like that is that I really value not having to have a system, here. I really value being able to write on my own schedule, and write about whatever the fuck I want.

Here's me with a pizza I made in April. This is the only time you'll see something I have cooked on this blog, I swear. Even here, I didn't make the dough, like. I just rolled that shit out and threw a few toppings on it. It was tasty, though.

Anyway, that's the craic there. Thanks so much, Sue, for nominating me! Part of this process is I'm meant to nominate two other bloggers but this hop has been hopping around for a while so I'm going to take the coward's way out and throw this open to anyone who wants to answer those questions.

Anyway, I'm going to leave it here for the evening. I have a ton of ironing to do and dinner to make, and I think I might even be recovered enough from that epic hangover to chance having a cocktail with dinner.

...or maybe I'll stick to water for now.