Monday, July 25, 2016

It was a topless woman on a tractor. Do you know what they call that in Europe? A cereal commercial!

Hey hey boys and girls. Happy Monday! I've been a meeting all day today...I have another all-day meeting tomorrow and generally a pretty meeting heavy-week looms. They're mainly all rooms with windows, so it could be worse, but it's been a while since it's been this meeting-intensive. I'm out of practice! I still have a few quieter weeks of summer (and then a holiday) before work becomes seriously busy again, so I shouldn't complain. But, then, when has that stopped me?!

Things have been generally pretty great, though - we've had a really fun few weeks. We had a visit to Bristol a few weekends ago to see our friends Katherine and Justin. Last weekend I took a long weekend so that we could go back to Northern Ireland to go to my cousin Sean's wedding. While we were there we were able to spend lots of time with our seven Northern Irish nephews and be there for the newest one's baptism. Matthew was born on 1st June and my sister Colleen asked me to be his godmother, which was wonderful. He was baptised on the Sunday.

Here I am with my sister Colleen and baby Matthew, and you can see three of my nephews in the background too! My dad took this photo with his super camera - I'm looking forward to seeing all the other photos he took that weekend.

This past weekend was lovely, too - we had dinner with a friend on Friday night and spent the day in Birmingham on Saturday. We had a mini gin festival in our flat on Saturday night with friends - I have a lot of gin and it was a fun way to share it with friends.
My festival setup

Some of my gin

So anyway - life has been busy, but in a nice way. I have a free weekend this weekend and am planning to spend at least some of it sewing. As ever, I have a little bit of a backlog of projects to show you. Today it's one that I made from some fabric that I bought when we were in New York in May. Fabric with tractors on it. 

Nic and I had a few hours with Oonaballoona on one of our days in New York. We were feeling a bit delicate so decided to focus the shopping on a few stores. I told Marcy that I wanted to visit Chic Fabrics, as I loved seeing her instagram posts from the store and she was delighted with this suggestion, as she said that there was fabric there she knew was made for me. She had seen the fabric on Peter's instagram and she wasn't wrong. I loved it. 

Riiiiiiiight?! I've been slowing down my novelty quilting cotton sewing but, you know, this was $1.99 a yard and I am only human. I had to buy it. Of course, I could have used it to make something other than a dress but come on. This is me. 

I bought two yards, which I knew would be more than enough to make a dress from. I didn't have a specific fabric in mind but after I had booked my flights home to Northern Ireland, I knew that I wanted to have the dress made to wear home. Having recently enjoyed sewing Simplicity 1610, I decided to go for that bodice. I wanted a pleated skirt but something a little bit different, so I 'drafted' one. I say drafted - making a pattern for a box-pleated a-line skirt is not what you would call challenging, but that's what I did anyway. 

The Day The Tractor Cowped dress - Simplicity 1610 with a box-pleated a-line skirt, worn with Swedish hasbeens Flora wedges

Having sewed this bodice a few times and worn its various iterations a fair bit, I think I may have shortened it a tiny bit too much. I'm not sure this dress hits me at the most flattering part of my waist. But I'm wearing a dress with tractors all over it, for fuck's sake. It's never going to be super flattering or elegant!

Yes, that IS in fact a sassy lady tractor driver there. I like her boiler suit. I used to have a similar boiler suit when I was a little girl. Mine was navy with red piping and I wore it when I was helping my dad out fixing washing machines and putting up TV aerials and stuff but it did come from a farm supply store in Aughnacloy. Ah, memories. 

I was actually really happy to make this dress to wear home. My grandparents were farmers so I spent a fair bit of my childhood around farms. My brother-in-law has a farm too, so there is still farming in the family! This fabric is pretty kitschy, definitely, but I enjoy the connection to my people. Also, any excuse to run around singing Hit The Diff is all right by me.

In fact, I very nearly named this dress the Hit The Diff dress. You know that I like to name my handmade dresses and there's usually some meaning behind it. However, when I posted a picture of the finished dress on instagram, my friend Claire named it for me - The Day The Tractor Cowped. This is a very old joke between the two of us. While doing our GCSE in Media Studies, Claire and I had to storyboard the trailer for a film...which we decided to base on a story we had read in the yearbook put out by the boys' school that was attached to our school. It was a thrilling tale of the day when a tractor cowped - which, for the non-culchies out there, means 'fell over'. Our film was going to be called Tractor! and its action hero was going to be my dad. You guys, it was immense. That film is mine and Claire's great lost masterpiece. I'm glad to have commemorated it by making this beautiful dress.

Somewhat shamelessly, I also wanted to make this dress to entertain my nephew Joe. When he was smaller, he was all into tractors. Sadly, I slightly missed the boat on this one - he's now totally obsessed with dinosaurs so the dress didn't merit much of his notice:

Joe D, not one bit interested, there. I'm going to have to make myself a dress with dinosaurs on it for the next time I see him. That should hopefully send me straight to the top of the aunt charts.

So anyway, that's the craic there. I'd better go as I have some stuff to do. You know, towin', liftin', sowin', balin', drawing, hauling and buck raking... that sort of thing. Don't forget to check out what Peter made with his tractor fabric though. It was a much classier affair than my dress, and very handsome he looks in it too! Right now lads. Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I wonder what time it is in Cork.

Hey guys! What's shaking? I'm sitting here on the sofa in my pyjamas with my head wrapped in clingfilm - it's henna time again - so, you know, it's standard issue glamour up in here tonight. I am going to have a glass of champagne later for no other reason than I can, though, so that's good. I love champagne.

Everything is grand here. Life is very busy at the moment. Work is in a slightly quieter period which, as I said in my last post, can sometimes make me feel restless. Luckily there's lots going on outside of work to keep me busy and I have been stitching my little heart out every chance I get! I'm having to be motivated in the evenings though as our weekends have been flat out. Last weekend we went to stay with some lovely friends in Bristol, which was ace. I didn't make it to Fabricland, sadly, but then I'm not exactly short of fabric. We did manage to fit in some other key activities, though, including sharing a flight of beer at Small Bar on King Street:

This weekend we're off to Northern Ireland as my cousin is getting married on Friday and my newest nephew is being christened on Sunday. The last time we were at home was for my uncle's funeral so it's a real blessing to be able to go home and see family for two happy occasions. Obviously I wanted to sew something to wear to the christening as well as something for the wedding, and I wanted to make a dress from my amazing tractor fabric too. I've managed to do all of those things (like I say: I've been sewing my little heart out) and I have another, totally unrelated dress to show you this evening.

Absolutely ages ago - like, last year sometime - I had a little shopping trip to Walthamstow market with Amy, Emmie and Lauren. Lauren and I ended up splitting two 6-yard lengths of wax cotton that we bought in one of the shops along the market. She sewed hers up pretty quickly - she made an Anna dress with a gathered skirt - but I sat on one of my pieces for ages, unable to decide what to do with it:

This photo from my instagram is the only photo I have of it! The Bimber miniatures were from my local wine shop, who gave them to us as samples. I had the gin and Nic had the vodka. They were yum.

So, yeah. After the success of the maxi length wax cotton Simplicity 1601 dress, it seemed like it would be the right pattern to use with this lovely fabric. So that is what I did:

Saga dress - Simplicity 1610 dress in wax cotton, worn with Swedish hasbeens Merci sandals

As with the Franklin Avenue dress, I cut a size 8 and shortened the bodice. I self-lined the bodice because I had enough fabric to, which was nice. The starbursts or fireworks or whatever they are are pretty big, so I wanted to have one fairly centrally on the bodice... but not dead centre, in case it looked like a bullseye or some kind of target. Nobody needs that. I'm pretty pleased with how that worked out:

The skirt was easier to handle at knee-length than the maxi-length one was, so I was able to get the pleats a little bit neater, too. They're absolutely grand on the other one, like, but better on this one. 

I'm glad to have finally sewed something with this fabric and I'm very pleased with how this dress has turned out. I'm not totally sold on the skirt in the shorter length - there's something about the front pleats that I think just don't work quite as well on a knee-length skirt - but I love the shape of the bodice and overall the dress is pretty cute. And, as the weather has been so crappy recently it's got me thinking about the autumn...this will definitely work with tights and boots when it gets colder. And it'll be good on bonfire night. Until then, it won't surprise you to learn that as well as these orange clogs, I also have red and purple clogs that'll look cute with this dress. So, you know, very practical altogether.

Nic and I have watched the first two seasons of The Bridge over the last few months, and while this dress is not something that Saga Norén would wear, she's been on my mind a lot recently so I named this dress for her. We're taking a break before we watch S3 because that show is intense as shit and life is intense enough at the moment...but hot damn, I love Saga a whole lot. Nic had started watching season 1 thinking that it would be a good show to watch while I was sewing - you know, it's subtitled, so the noise of the sewing machine is no problem - but I horned it on it on the second episode and it became one of those shows that we had to watch together. I'm very glad. It's awesome. So far it's the only Nordic Noir I've watched apart from the film of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (the Swedish one, of course). I'm late to the whole craic there, but sure that's grand. It just means I don't have to wait around for new episodes.

We did try watching The Killing after we finished the first season of The Bridge, but I couldn't get into it at all. I mean, Sarah Lund is definitely very cool...but I found it a little bit boring and visually it reminded me too much of Soupy Norman for me to take it very seriously. 

Soupy Norman

The Killing. THE SAME.

So that's the craic there anyway. My stash is now running low on wax cotton so I'm on the lookout for some more. Nic and I are off to Amsterdam next month, so I'm hopeful that I might find some Dutch wax there or at the Labjesmarkt in Utrecht. I'm going to need to learn a few key phrases in Dutch before we go, I think!

That should be enough to get me a few metres of whichever fabric I'm after

So here, it's time to go and pour some champagne and get to work on hemming a dress. Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

I am sometimes bored by people, but never by life.

Hello hello! Evening everyone. What's the craic? I'm grand - I've been having a bit of a weird, anxious week. It's definitely everything that is going on in the world; there is just too much news right now. Some reasonably big changes are coming at work and it's impossible to predict just how much and in what way they'll change things. We're currently in the reasonably quiet summer months - which for us means not being completely and utterly flat out - and, while I should be able to enjoy the relative calm, it makes me feel restless. In summary: nothing to actually worry about (apart from the news, that is) but enough to make me feel restless and anxious and unable to sleep. I've been trying to work through it in the best way that I know how: sewing, long walks with Nic and making fun plans.

So that's the craic there. I have been sewing loads, which has been making me feel good - especially as it means I'm working my way through my stash! Tonight I'm going to blog something that I made a few months ago but never got around to photographing. Remember when I made a Tilly and The Buttons Megan dress? Well, shortly after making that dress I spotted this dress in Cath Kidston:

Hydrangea dress - it's currently in the Cath Kidston sale, if it takes your fancy

Much like the Megan dress, the bodice on this dress has cute little tucks rather than darts and, as you can see, it has an a-line pleated skirt. All very nice. I tried the dress on in the shop but, while I liked the shape of it overall, I really really hated the fabric. It's a slightly shiny waffle-textured cotton - not bad on its own, but the colour did nothing for me. Also, you know, it was £75. I don't consider this to be too much for a dress, but it is too much for a dress that I am lukewarm about at best. BUT, all this crabbing aside, it did give me some ideas, which I went home and promptly tried out.

The plan was to lengthen the Megan bodice slightly and stick a pleated skirt on it. Simple, right? It was that simple. I measured the length of one of my favourite bodices - the Emery bodice - and I compared this against the length of the Megan bodice and added on the difference. This meant lengthening the darts in the back bodice, but that was simple enough. I made a couple of bodice toiles to get an idea of how it would work and then I cut into my fabric.

Juliette dress - modified Megan dress with a pleated skirt, worn with Swedish hasbeens duck toe sandals

Yes, the fabric. We have seen this before: many times! But all but two of my cowgirl dresses have been phased out of my wardrobe so when I saw the red colourway pop up on ebay, I bought two metres of it. I used the pleated skirt from New Look 6776, which has a lovely shape.

I was able to cut the bodice to showcase the sassy cowgirl on the rearing horse, which is one of my favourite parts of the design. I didn't do any pattern matching apart from that - as you can see from the waist seam - but I don't know how much that matters on a dress like this.

I've worn the dress a few times since I made it in April. I like it, but I don't totally love it. I think I could have lengthened the bodice a little bit more to hit me at a more flattering place - although I usually need to shorten bodices, I think this is slightly higher than my natural waist! Also, as with my other Megan dress, I'm just not sure about the puffy sleeve heads. 

Here's a massively unflattering photo of me to emphasise my uncertainty about those sleeves...

But, you know, I like the neckline and the skirt and obviously I love the print. I probably won't make another one of these (although I probably will make another Megan dress at some point) but I'm glad I gave it a go. And sure, isn't that part of the fun?

And I definitely like it a hell of a lot more than that dress from Cath Kidston. So there's that. Now, that's your lot from me for this evening. Laters!

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Ooh, it's funny that, isn't it? Him liking red sauce and you not liking red sauce, and yet you get on so well.


Happy Saturday, everyone! After a pretty turbulent week, emotionally, I'm starting to feel on slightly more of an even keel now. Nic and I are having a quiet and relaxing weekend with nothing more taxing planned than going for a walk, watching a few silly films (so far, we've watched Red Dragon and Sex and The City: The Movie and Nic is currently trawling Netflix for something to watch later), making pizza and opening a bottle of champagne. It's been easy to feel like everything in life is totally shitty because... well, the news. I'm making a conscious effort this weekend to get a little bit of joy back. I started yesterday morning by watching this video, which, please. YOU MUST WATCH IT.


Tell me that doesn't bring a smile to your face. Sir Patrick Stewart must be the happiest and cutest man alive. Seriously now. 

I worked at home yesterday and got out at lunchtime to go for business lunch with our friend Charlotte. It was unexpectedly sunny yesterday (well, it rained in the evening) so I took the chance to get some photos of a new dress. A dress I did not make. It came from a shop, and I love it:

Tennessee dress by Sixton London*, worn with Topshop belt, Tatty Devine Lobster necklace and Miss L-Fire Rock Lobster sandals

The craic here is that a few weeks ago, lovely local boutique Lilac Rose got in touch with me and asked me would I like to try out a dress from new brand Sixton London. At one time, I was a hardcore Lilac Rose shopper - this was before I could sew - and even now, I can never resist stopping to see what they have in their window. The shop is very local to me - it's around the corner from our flat - and I have bought many, many dresses from them over the last nine years! They stock a few brands that I really like, including Emily and Fin, so I was curious to check this new brand out. 

I tried a few dresses but I ended up being very taken - surprisingly so - with the Tennessee dress. This was surprising to me for two reasons: one of them is the fact that this dress has shirred panels in the back bodice (which is a feature I normally avoid. I'm not a fan of shirring, for some reason) and the other is that it's a solid colour. I think I have only one other dress in my wardrobe that's a solid colour! But I sort of fell in love with this one as soon as I put it on.

The dress is unlined and is made from a soft but structured cotton-poly chambray. I liked the raglan sleeves and the round neckline, but it was the skirt that really made me fall for this dress - the box pleats make the skirt really full and satisfyingly swishy. 

The great thing about the solid colour is the potential for showing off fun accessories! I have worn this Lobster necklace from Tatty Devine lots of times since I bought it, but I haven't yet matched it to the Lobster sandals. This dress seemed like the perfect canvas for that pairing!

I was pretty impressed by the quality and finish of the dress. As I mentioned above, it's unlined, but that's fine in a summer dress. The neckline is bound, and the skirt has a narrow topstitched hem. It's all good. I'm afraid I can't find a size chart online for Sixton, but I'm wearing a size 8 (which is usually what I wear in most RTW) so I think you could say it's pretty true to size...although, as dress sizes vary so wildly I'm not sure that statement is all that helpful. The shirring across the back does add a little bit of extra ease, of course.

I'm already planning how I'm going to wear this dress next, so I think it's definitely going to get lots of wear this summer. It's also inspiring some sewing plans...the box-pleated skirt is very similar to the one on the By Hand London Zeena dress, which I have in my stash. I'm going to have to get the scissors and scotch tape out and start taping that PDF together!

But first, it's Saturday evening and there is pizza to be made and champagne to be chilled. I have a fair few handmade dresses lined up to blog about soon, so catch you all then!

*This dress was provided to me by Lilac Rose to review. I was not paid for this post and my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It happened on a Sunday afternoon; on a lovely bright crisp winter's afternoon; on a perfect day for walking.

Evening everyone!

So, okay. Normally I wouldn't talk politics on the blog but I feel like I can't write a post without mentioning the outcome of last week's EU Referendum. It's been on my mind constantly since then. Like many people - 48% of those of us who turned out to vote - I am devastated by the result. I was angry, upset and scared by the racist rhetoric that surrounded the Leave campaign and I am frightened about what the outcome of the vote might mean for the UK. More immediately than that - for me, at least - I am bitterly angry about what withdrawal from the EU could mean for my home country of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland voted to remain and will be on the border - on the frontier, as David Cameron referred to it - of the EU, should the UK withdraw. And, as an Irish-identifying Northern Irish person who grew up right on the border, I am frightened about what a return to a hard border might mean for the country. I'm terrified that it could signal a return to conflict - EU law and the ability to move freely between Northern Ireland an Eire underpin the Good Friday Agreement, so that's under threat, and Sinn Féin have already issued a call for border poll: a referendum on Northern Ireland's future in the UK. You can read in more detail about the possible ramifications of withdrawal from the European Union here.

On a personal level, I am furious with the result. I'm furious that such a referendum could even take place and that seemingly nobody in Westminster thought about how the outcome could affect the people of Northern Ireland. I know that it's a small country and it's an issue that most English voters would not have considered, but English people also suffered the consequences of the troubles. Ask the people of Warrington, Manchester, Reading, Guildford, Birmingham, Lichfield, Shrewsbury, Brighton or London what the peace in Northern Ireland means to them.

I grew up in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, which is on the border between Northern Ireland and Eire. For all of my childhood, this was a heavily militarised border. One of my earliest memories is of Aidan McAnespie's murder by a British soldier at the border checkpoint. I was six when this happened. Aidan was the brother of classmates, a friend of my uncle's, a distant cousin. It's very hard to describe to anyone who hasn't experienced this what it was like - but, if you want to get an idea of the lasting trauma this has had on the people of Northern Ireland, read about the high suicide rates of Northern Irish people of my generation and the generations subsequent to us; the Ceasefire Babies. I am frightened and frankly fucking furious that Westminster and the people who voted Leave have put Northern Ireland at risk of conflict again. And that it was done without even a thought is the thing that makes me the most angry. The rational, intellectual part of me wants to feel ready to move on, to try to understand the people who voted Leave because they thought it would help the NHS or because they're desperate to be able to buy bendy fucking bananas, but I'm not there yet.

So, yeah. It's been a totally shitty few days and we have some seriously scary times ahead. But it's time to talk about sewing and dresses again. I need the light relief right now.

I was in London all weekend for work and took yesterday and today as time off in lieu. I haven't accomplished much - a little bit of sewing, a little bit of tidying, and that's about it. Nic and I went out for a walk in the sunshine yesterday and had business lunch at Kayal. As the sun was shining - albeit for only a few hours - I thought I would wear and photograph a dress that I made recently!

This dress was inspired in part by a beautiful dress that I saw while we were in New York. Catching the subway one day, I saw a woman buying her ticket and wearing a wax cotton maxi dress. It had a sleeved bodice with a scoop back, an exposed zip and a full, pleated skirt. She was wearing a matching headscarf and she looked so stunning that I had to run up to her and tell her that. I have a wax cotton maxi dress - my Barbès-Rochechouart Anna dress - and I wear it loads, but I wanted something with a similar shape to the beautiful one I had seen. I did a bit of investigating and it seemed that Simplicity 1610 might fit the bill:

I obviously had some wax cotton in my stash: this purple and green print that I bought last year in Paris (from Tissus Toto, where else?!)

Although my inspiration dress had sleeves, I thought that sleeves might be a bit too much on this wild print. Yes, I worried about what might be too much when I was sewing with lime green and purple cotton. Make of that what you will! But I am very happy with the finished dress:

Franklin Avenue dress - Simplicity 1610 in wax cotton. Not much point in telling you what shoes I'm wearing as you can't see them!

Admittedly, the lines of this dress are lost in this crazy print, but the skirt is very cute. It even has pockets! You can see them in the line drawings for the pattern:

I sewed a size 8 and the only adjustment I made was to shorten the bodice by an inch, which is an adjustment that I nearly always make these days. The pattern calls for the bodice to be lined, and I self-lined it. The length of the skirt surprised me - I'm very short and it was the perfect length for me! So, I would say that if you're taller than 5'1" you might want to consider lengthening the skirt.


I only glanced at the instructions for assembling the bodice - they're obviously pretty standard - but I did read more closely the instructions for assembling the skirt to make sure that I had the construction steps for the steps correct. It was very neat and straightforward and easy - the only slight issue that I had was wrestling the long skirt pieces to make the pleats! It wasn't difficult or anything - it's just slightly more awkward to manage when you have a lot of fabric.

Again, it's kind of hard to tell in this fabric but I really like the shape of the bodice and especially the armholes - they're angular rather than rounded and it's a lovely detail. For some reason, I think that the bodice makes me look super busty...not something to complain about, like, but still notable, I think! The other thing that I like about the bodice is the v-shaped back neckline:

Yes, so all in all, I think this pattern is a winner. I liked this so much that I straightaway made a knee-length one in another piece of wax cotton that had been hanging out in my stash. I think I like it even more than this one - and, being knee-length, it's probably more everyday wearable. A wax cotton maxi dress isn't an everyday dress, for sure, but judging by how much I've worn my wax cotton maxi Anna dress, this one will do me very nicely.

Nic loves this dress. For some reason, he's always delighted when I wear a maxi dress and I am delighted by his delight. In these dark and troubling days, a little bit of colour and delight can only help. 

Right now. I have to be up early in the morning for a meeting in London so I shall say goodnight. Until next time, friends.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

If Shakespeare had written Taken, it’d be four hours long and be mainly Liam Neeson fretting and pacing and talking to bones. That’s the basic difference between Hamlet and Taken: Liam Neeson makes up his mind.

Evening! I hope this finds everyone well. I'm suffering from the combined effects of hay fever and a head cold, feeling deeply anxious about the outcome of today's EU Referendum and still only halfway through my work week because I have to work all weekend. OH, and I have to spend tomorrow in Slough.

Despite all of this though, I'm grand and we have a big dumb movie on in the background to cheer the whole thing up. It's San Andreas - think of it as us readying ourselves for disaster. But also it's because I find stressed-out Paul Giamatti inherently hilarious, so there's that too.

So that's the craic with me. The return to real life after our holiday hasn't been too bumpy (referendum aside) and although I'm facing major changes at work - well, I'm always facing major changes at work. I'm pretty used to that by now. I'm still trying to hold onto the good holiday vibes and am mainly succeeding.

I've been merrily sewing away, which has been fun. I had a stressful and busy few months in which I didn't have a lot of time for sewing but I did buy a fair bit of fabric so my stash is as full as it has ever been. I keep it in an Ikea 'Hol' side table that doubles as our coffee table and it's almost full. It's a small stash in comparison to many, but it's what I'm comfortable with, so I am on a mission to sew my way through a good portion of it over the summer.

A good place to start was making something from one of the pieces of fabric I bought in New York - some checked poplin with a slight stretch to it that I bought from Chic Fabric in the Garment District.  It was $4 per yard and I bought two yards without any especial plan for it, and before I went back to work I realised that it needed to be made into a Simplicity 2444, so that's what I did:

Seven Worlds Collide dress - Simplicity 2444 worn with Swedish hasbeens peep-toe sandals and a vintage bag

I didn't totally love the fabric on the bolt because it felt a little bit...crunchy? The shop owner assured me that it would wash nicely and I figured that at $4 a yard I was willing to take a risk. He was right, though - it washed really nicely and all of the crunchiness disappeared. I didn't realise when I bought it that it has a slight stretch to it - a bit like the stretch sateen that I have sewed with in the past - but that worked out really well. I'm carrying a little bit of holiday chub (all of that pizza and beer... it was mostly cancelled out by all of the walking, but not totally. A few weeks of eating vegetables and not drinking beer every day will sort me out) so a little bit of stretch is very comfortable right now!

It's been a while since I've made a 2444 (maybe a year) but it was a nice, fun pattern to sew after a few weeks away from my machine. I sewed a straight size 8, with the main adjustments being the standard ones I have made in the past for this pattern, which is to sew the shoulder seams at 6/8, omit the pockets and to cut the skirt front on the fold rather than have a seam down the front of it. I also pinched out two darts in the back neckline, because it was gaping really badly - much more so than on any previous iteration of this dress. This is possibly down to the fact that the fabric has some stretch to it. 

Back view. DORP. When Nic took this he told me, "It doesn't look that wrinkled in real life!" which was reassuring. I think it looks okay though. The fitting police might put me under arrest, but no jury would convict.

I think that, right being right, I could do with shortening the bodice on this pattern. I am pretty short-waisted. I've considered it in the past for old 2444 but it looks like it might be a bit of a ball-ache because all of the bodice darts are at the waist. Eh - that's just pure laziness though, isn't it? It is, though. I can admit it. 

Yeah this bodice needs to be shortened a bit. ROISIN GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. But also, here is a closer-up view of the fabric and my Monstrous Pencil necklace, which I bought at Berylune and which I super love. I have bought, like, five of these necklaces. It's ridiculous. 

This is one of those dresses that isn't really exciting, but I am very happy with it. It's comfortable and cute and classic. It's the sort of dress that I would buy in a shop so I am sure I'll wear it loads. I've already worn it twice in the last week - once, on the day after I made it, when it was rainy...

This photo is a little out of focus but don't blame the photographer, it was raining pretty heavily!

...and I wore it today to work from home, vote, defrost the freezer and to have dinner in the park with Nic:

Right, okay, I know that pizza isn't a vegetable. It was good though.

So that's the craic there anyway. Simplicity 2444: still a winner. Such a classic. Now I'm away here. I need to give San Andreas my full attention. It has Archie Panjabi in it AND Paul Giamatti is getting pretty stressed. What's not to love?

Like, I would definitely watch a TV show of just these two guys. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I don't sleep on planes. I don't want to get incepted.

Hello everyone!

Yeaaah! So, we made it to New York and back. That's me there, at Brooklyn Bridge Park. It's probably pretty unnecessary to say that we had an amazing holiday - especially unnecessary if you follow me on instagram, as you'll have had two and a half weeks of classics like this one:

Here I am with a slice of pizza from Joe's of the village. Having sampled slices from a number of establishments, Joe's was my favourite. Nic differed slightly, favouring Sal's pizza in Brooklyn. 

I won't bore on for too long about the holiday, but here are the headlines. We stayed in an airbnb apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The neighbourhood had been recommended to us by a friend who lived there until very recently and it was absolutely brilliant. We were staying on St John's Place, between Franklin and Classon and we both became really attached to the neighbourhood - it is lively and diverse with lots of great bars and restaurants and it's right next to Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Brooklyn Museum. We were close by Franklin Avenue subway station, which allowed us to get into Manhattan on the 2,3,4 and 5 trains and we were also able to catch the B and D trains from nearby Atlantic Avenue to get into Manhattan across the Manhattan bridge.

A Brownstone in Brooklyn Heights

Neither of us had been to New York before, but of course everything is so familiar from films and TV shows so it was very easy to find our way around. As film and television people, it was super fun to turn a corner and find ourselves on the set of a film or TV programme that we love...

Such as Carrie Bradshaw's apartment...

... and the steps of the Supreme Court. I couldn't stand on the steps itself as filming was taking place on that day.

We did a few of the big tourist things to do - we went to Central Park, the Natural History Museum, the High Line and the September 11th memorial. We decided to only go to one tall building, and that was 30 Rock. It was AMAZING, and well worth paying for. We went up at 7:30pm so were able to see the city just before the sun set, at sunset and after dark.

Midtown and lower Manhattan from the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. You can see the Empire State Building and One World Trade Centre.

Just after sunset. I took this photo from inside, where we had a window all to ourselves.

We also rode the Staten Island Ferry twice. It's free and it is SO much fun. It was top of my list of things I wanted to do (I guess I've seen Working Girl a few too many times) and it did not disappoint. On our first trip we spent about an hour in Staten Island but on our second go we just got off the ferry in Staten Island and straight back on it again back to Manhattan.

Jersey City, Manhattan and some of Brooklyn seen from the Staten Island Ferry

The ferry runs all night and the next time we go to New York I'd like to take it at night. I bet that view is spectacular.

We were lucky enough to be able to meet up with some friends while we were in New York. A friend of Nic's from university lives in Greenpoint, so we met her one day for dumplings at Vanessa's in Williamsburg. Another good friend from our university days, Rod, lives in Brooklyn also so we were able to catch him in between work and moving house for breakfast at Lincoln Station. We met up with some sewing bloggers too - although at no point did I get my shit together enough to get photos! Jennifer invited us to see her Workroom Social studio, which is in Crown Heights, and we had lunch with her and Suzanne at Berg'n Beer Hall. Jennifer and her husband also took Nic and me to Flushing for dinner in Chinatown. We went to Astoria to hang out, eat Greek food and talk crap with Sonja and our very hungover selves met Marcy for ice-cream sandwiches and fabric shopping in the Garment District. Without Marcy I might not have bought any fabric at all - we didn't do a lot of shopping, really - but I'm very glad that I did. And, as ever, within moments of meeting all of these lovely ladies it was like I had known them forever. And ice-cream sandwiches are good for easing hangovers, just so you know.

Lots of the best things we did were spontaneous and low-key. We spent a fair amount of time exploring Brooklyn - man, we fell for Brooklyn in a big way - and a lot of time drinking craft beer and people-watching at various bars. One of the best and most surprisingly fun things was sitting for a few hours on a bench in East River Park watching the sun set over the Manhattan skyline:

We walked. A LOT. We averaged around eight miles a day. We drank a lot of beer and a fair few cocktails, ate a decent amount of pizza and quite a few doughnuts too. It was the best holiday. I'm back at work tomorrow and, while I'm sure that it won't take long for me to feel tired and stressed again for the moment I'm still feeling the benefit of our time away.

The Manhattan Bridge and Empire State Building. Nic had to get out into the middle of the street to take this photo!

It was good to have a bit of a holiday from sewing and blogging, as well. I didn't miss either and I had been feeling a bit...well, meh, about blogging before my break. It happens from time to time and so much had been going on in my life throughout April and May that it made me sort of lose interest in blogging. I'm still not sure where I am with it, if I'm totally honest, but it is nice to be writing now, so I guess that means I'm not ready to throw in the towel just yet! I'm certainly not tired of sewing and I do have a dress to show you that I made before we went to New York. It would be nice to have good photos of me wearing it there - I did wear it there - but I didn't get organised enough to have Nic take them. Instead I got a few photos in a brief moment of sunshine yesterday afternoon!

Kidnapped by Danger dress - New Look 6020 in 'Park Landscape' fabric from Michael Miller, won with Swedish hasbeens peep-toe sandals

Having liked the bodice of the Prospect Park dress so much, I knew that I wanted to make a version with the skirt as drafted in the pattern. I had three metres of this Michael Miller landscape fabric that I had bought from Miss Ginger so that's what I went for. Still no fan of a side zip, I made the same modifications to the pattern that I did with the Prospect Park dress - rather than cutting the centre back pieces on the fold, I cut two of each and added a seam allowance of 5/8. I used 5/8 for the seam allowances all round (rather than the 3/8 that the pattern calls for) apart from at the side seams, where I had a seam allowance of one inch.

I self-lined the bodice, as before, and I did as good as job as I could of pattern matching across the seams of the skirt. The skirt looks kind of frumpy on the pattern envelope and I wasn't that sure if I would like it. I reasoned that, even if I didn't love it, the print is so amazing that I'd still wear it. But, I really like the shape of the skirt - I think the a-line is full enough to give me the silhouette that I like but a-line enough not to be a total fabric hog. Yet again, a New Look pattern comes up trumps. I definitely want to try the other bodice variations on this pattern with this skirt.

Needless to say, I really love this fabric. There's just something so cheerful about a landscape print. I wore this dress twice when we were on holiday and felt great in it both times - although I must admit that I like it better on me now. I swell up a bit in the heat and I am very pale, so my very Irish skin looked extra Irish (blue) against the vibrant colours!

Here I am wearing it on location in New York. No, seriously - there was a film being shot in our neighbourhood. It's Todd Haynes's new film, Wonderstruck, which stars Julianne Moore. We didn't see Julianne herself, unfortunately, but it was still pretty cool!

As there is very little danger of me swelling up in the heat of the English summer, I think it's safe to say that I'll wear this dress a fair bit! Good old New Look patterns. 

Right, now I have waffled on for ages here and I want to have a drink and watch some crappy TV before real life starts again tomorrow. Until next time, folks!

Me and Nic on the Staten Island Ferry