Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Is there anything to be said for saying another mass? Oh god, I love saying mass.

Yo yo yo YO. Hello my loves! This week has been going sooooo slowly for me, for some reason. How can it only be Wednesday?! I had a very busy weekend between teaching, socialising and generally running about the place, so maybe it's just that I'm in need of some time to just slob about at home.

The weather has started to turn a bit. It's chilly - by no means is it winter coat weather yet (although I have seen a lot of that this week) but the season does feel like it's starting to turn and that always sends my emotions into turmoil. That's at least partly because I really hate having to wear layers and tights and winter coats - I'll be clinging desperately to my open-toed shoes for a while yet! So tonight I'm going to show you a project I worked on a few weeks ago, when the weather was still reliably warm.

It's not a new dress - this is a refashioned dress! Now I must admit, I'm not much of a one for refashioning or altering clothes. I'm always really impressed when I see others do it, but I kind of lack the patience to do it myself. Over the last year, most of my handmade dresses from the beginning of 2013 have been gradually packed away because they're now too big. I've given some away to friends and to the charity shop, but there are a fair few that I'm very attached to and I'm slowly working my way through altering them to fit my current size. One of them is the first By Hand London Elisalex dress I made - the Feckin' Birds dress. I love the Michael Miller fabric I used to make this dress, which I bought from, and it's been a source of some regret to me to have it packed away. Back at the end of June or beginning of July I took it apart and refashioned it, and I'm pleased to say that it's part of my wearable wardrobe again!

Refashion alert! Feckin Birds dress, worn with Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon shoes and Ollie and Nic apple bag

So. Because the dress had sleeves and is partially lined, it wasn't really possible to alter the dress by just taking it in up the side seams. I've done this with a few other too-big dresses (both handmade and shop-bought) and while it's not the most elegant alteration it has worked really well where I have tried it. Anyway. That was a no go here. So I took the whole thing apart and started again, kind of from scratch. I decided that, beautiful and all as the sleeves are - and man, I was SO proud of them at the time - that this dress was going to get more wear as a sleeveless dress. So I re-sewed the bodice and the bodice lining, and attached them using the old burrito method so it was all neat and tidy. I thought I'd try something a bit different with the skirt and, rather than recreating the box pleats, I gently gathered the skirt. It's still tulip-shaped - which you can see more evidently in real life than in these photos - but it has a slightly different look to it now. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about how successful this change was because it does blouse out a little bit and it probably could be more flattering.

But, you know, whether or not something is 100% flattering 100% of the time is really not of huge concern to me and, as it is, this skirt has lots of room for a big dinner. On the night these photos were taken, we went out for dinner and cocktails with friends, followed by prosecco and maltesers in the park, followed by champagne and sweets in our living room. It did well on all scores.

The other change I made was to take a couple of inches off the skirt. The midi length worked when the skirt was pleated, but it just looked all kinds of wrong when I gathered the skirt.

The finished article isn't perfect: it's a little boxy in the bodice because I was feeling chubby when I remade this dress, basically, and rather than re-cutting the bodice pieces using the correct size, I just sewed them back together with extra large seam allowances. It's fine - and in fact, the extra ease made this dress cool and comfortable to wear when the weather was humid - but I know it would have looked better if I had taken a slightly different route when sewing it. Still: I'm calling this a win because I loved this dress, and I'm really really glad to have it back in rotation. This fabric is still one of my favourite prints.

Rescuing this dress has inspired me with a few other too-big dresses and I have a dismantled Lobsterlex dress awaiting the same treatment, probably over the weekend. Alterations are tedious but, having spent time and money and poured love into making these dresses, it's totally worth taking the time to give them a second life.

This photo doesn't show you anything new about the dress. But Nic tried to take about 7 photos of me on these alternative steps, and I had my eyes closed in every single one. I think mainly here I was thinking about the dinner and cocktails that were ahead of me and I was blissing out about the whole thing.

Anyway - that's my refashioned dress! I can't say I'm going to get into refashioning in a big way - I find the lure of the bright, shiny and new a bit too hard to resist - but this was undeniably satisfying. I love my dress. after a night on the cocktails, prosecco, champagne and fizzy laces...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I don't want a ladies' wetsuit. I'm a man! Give me a small man's wetsuit, please.

Morning boys and girls! Happy Sunday! I'm having a very busy weekend with lots of socialising - it's funny how these things can all crowd in to fit the same space. Nic and I had dinner with friends on Friday night, I was teaching at Berylune all day on Saturday, we went to a party at a friend's house last night and this afternoon I'm off to London to hang out with my girl Liz. Thankfully I'm going to be working at home tomorrow so I can get in some pyjama time. I do always eventually get dressed when I'm working from home but I'm not going to lie - I am looking forward to being a slob for a few hours.

Thank you to everyone who chimed in with fitting advice about my Cambie dress on the last post - it was really helpful and I have a fair few ideas now of things to try that should help. It's not all fitting woes up in here though - I have a little sewing success story to share today. Hurrah! So, after experimenting with hacking the back bodice pieces of the Emery dress to make the v-back on the Monkey 47 dress, I was keen to keep working on that hack to get it right. And to sew it to a circle skirt, because I love circle skirts. I decided to pinch out the neck darts on the bodice piece and to try Mrs C's neckline taping suggestion. This is something I had actually done before, with some success, so it's silly that I forgot to do it on the Monkey 47 dress!

Anyway - I made the dart modification to the paper piece and off I went, cutting out some more of the fabric I bought in Paris. This is a lovely cotton lawn I bought as a 3m coupon in Coupons de Saint Pierre - I think it was €20 for 3 metres. It originally had a white background but it met with a colour-running accident in my washing machine and no amount of colour corrector would return it to white! I was a bit bummed out about this initially - and indeed, if I can find some more of the fabric so I can have a dress made out of it as it's intended to look, I will get some - but actually I think the pale blue background works. I like it a lot and I love the finished dress:

Le Lotus Bleu dress - Christine Haynes Emery bodice with modifications and a circle skirt, worn with Swedish hasbeens peep toe sandals

Often - nearly always - when I try on a handmade dress before hemming it, I'm a little bit meh about the whole thing. This was not at all the case with this one, which I loved unreservedly. I think I got my reservations about it out of the way earlier in the process when, after cutting it all out and marking all the darts and everything, I lost interest in it for about a day. Coming back to it was weirdly a chore. But anyway - I love the dress! The print is of chinese vases and lemons which is a little bit random and, in the length I had, there was no way of having the vases running the right way up on the front skirt without either seaming it, or sewing a half circle skirt. I didn't want to do either of those things so let the vases be on their sides. They're right way up again by the centre back seam, though!

Back view. No crabbing about it this time, I promise.

Mrs C's tutorial worked a treat and the back neckline lies completely flat - I am very happy with how it fits! I'm keen to experiment with adding the Emery sleeves to this bodice modification - I'd have to undo the changes to the armholes but I think it could work and be very cute with it!

Here's the bodice so you can see the print a bit closer. Excuse the messy hair - it was a windy day!

I wore this dress last Saturday to go on a day out with Nic - the one that was originally planned for Rugby but ended up with Birmingham. It was a very windy day but I took precautions and wore a slip to prevent accidental flashing of Brummie strangers. I loved wearing this dress and felt pretty awesome in it all day.

Here's how I wore the dress - with a blue Hell Bunny Paloma cardigan and my new Zatchels saddle bag

There isn't a whole lot else to say about either the dress or our day in Birmingham. We had a lovely day out - Birmingham is a great city, especially in the sunshine. I introduced Nic to the magical wonderland that is Barry's Fabrics and I fell in love with a ridiculously expensive Paul Smith coat in Harvey Nichols. Oh, and I met a giant anglepoise lamp:

Yes. It's true. I love lamp.

Anyway, I know it's been a pretty picture-heavy post but I'm going to leave you with two more pictures from a lovely day. Then I need to go and get my ass in gear if I'm going to catch a train to London!

Running across this street sign in the back streets between Digbeth and the Mailbox was pretty pleasing.

Nic took a few photos of me in front of this painted wall. It's beautiful and I really like it as a photo backdrop but OMG could it be more stereotypically blogger to do this? I suppose I could be jumping, or crouching, or staring off wistfully into the distance. Not going to lie - kind of wish I could find a wall like this in Leamington!

Okay, pups. I'm out. I've got shit to do. Bye!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kin is people you've gotta kiss, even if they have a moustache.

Evening all! What's the craic? I am having a busy old week at work, which is kind of nice. I've been sewing and knitting and watching trashy TV (we're back on Blue Bloods) and wearing socks around the house because the weather has turned a bit colder. Also because I keep buying new shoes and wearing them around the house with socks genuinely does break them in a little bit. So, the more you know.

So, yeah, sewing. I haven't made much of a dent in the fabric stash I brought home with me from Paris (not helped by the fact that since coming back from Paris, I have also bought a buttload more fabric) But, after a trip to the pub a couple of weeks ago with my lovely friend Lauren, I was inspired to get going on some of it. She was wearing an absolutely amazing coral polka dot Sewaholic Cambie dress and she looked fabulous. I love the Cambie pattern a lot but am currently unable to wear any of the ones I've previously made - they're all too big for me now and I have packed them away - so I got my pattern out and retraced it in a new size. Lauren had omitted the waistband from hers and had also only lined the bodice, and I'm a big old copycat so decided to follow suit. Well, apart from omitting the waistband (but I will get to that shortly) So... here is my Dirty Dick Cambie dress:

Dirty Dick Cambie dress and Swedish hasbeens Heart Medallion sandals

So. Let's get the issues out of the way first. I sized down with this dress from my previous size and I didn't toile it because it had fit me pretty well in the past. Well, I could have stood to toile it because as well as having lost weight, my body has changed shape a bit. Also, I think I am just a bit more fussy about fit nowadays so I'm not as happy with this dress as I could be. The bodice is just a little bit big all over and the waistband hits me at a funny place. I have since gone on to make a Cambie dress without the waistband - which has its own issues that I'll do a separate post about (it is cute, though) So basically, the bodice needs work. I think I need to change the shape of the darts in the bodice a bit and maybe shorten the bodice a bit as well. But - any advice would be gratefully received!


So in this shot you can kind of see the issue a bit more clearly - that excess fabric underneath the bust. But you can also see the thing I really like about this dress - the fabric! So I'm going to stop being picky about it now because despite the issues I have pointed out, I do like this dress. It's not perfect but it is wearable and the fabric is so cute! I bought this pineapple print cotton in Coupons de Saint Pierre and I think it was €10 for 3 metres. It's very light and floaty but not see-through, so I was able to get away with not lining the skirt. Also: pineapples! I am accidentally on-trend! There are actually two layers of pineapple to the print - the brightly coloured ones, and then slightly faded outlines of pineapples. It's pretty awesome. I have about half a metre of it left so I'm trying to figure out what to do with it.

A back view I don't hate! But gosh, I'm a strange shape from the back.

So, yeah. This dress is more flattering in real life than it is in the pictures but it's definitely not my best work. I'm at that slightly annoying stage now where I can see fitting issues but I'm still learning how to address them. I suppose I need to get better at making toiles rather than relying on fitting on the fly, but I'm getting there. I'm never going to be a fitting master like my girl Heather B but it is good to move towards that. I love being able to whip up a dress in a few hours, but of course that's only good if the end result fits. Which, in fairness, this dress mostly does.

Yes, I'm in the undergrowth here, in heels. I think this is the moment when I officially jumped the shark. In my defence, the heels aren't all that high.

Anyway. I'm going to stop being negative because PINEAPPLES! NEW SHOES! HEARTS! MY HAIR LOOKS REALLY GOOD IN THIS OTHER PHOTO!


Now, I was meant to get a photo of me drinking a pineapple-themed drink in this dress, and I totally failed to do that. If I'm totally honest, I don't like very sweet drinks and pineapple always burns my mouth. It's to do with enzymes, apparently. Science. But I did name this dress after that awesome Tiki bar in Pigalle that Nic and I went to on our honeymoon. And I will go and have a drink as soon as I am finished writing. It'll be gin, but it will be good gin. And on the subject of gin, I will leave you with the other thing the name of this dress makes me think of:

Dirty Martini... dirty bastard

And this one is just because...

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Like when I say "Men are blinded by my beauty". They're not really blinded. They get their sight back in a day or two!

Hello beauties! How's the weekend been treating you? I was working from home yesterday on boring admin tasks, which was just as well as I was a little bit hungover after going out for dinner and prosecco with Rick and Lauren on Thursday night. I don't even think I had that much to drink, but this is just what drinking on a school night does to me these days. Man, I'm getting old! Thankfully I had recovered enough by dinner time to eat my dinner and then hem a pretty dress while watching a crappy film. The crappy film in question was The French Connection 2, and it was the only time I have ever had to say, "That film had too much Gene Hackman in it."

Today, Nic and I had planned to go to Rugby to check out the charity shops, go to the library (their library has a better comics section and a better craft books section than Leamington library) and visit a newly opened comics and milkshake shop (because WUT) but after almost an hour and a half of waiting for a bus that's supposed to come every half an hour we fucked the whole thing off and went to Birmingham instead. Really that was a much better plan, because it meant I was able to buy fabric, Nic was able to buy comics, and we were able to go back to Cherry Reds for that halloumi, mushroom and hash browns sandwich. A winner all round,  I think. The plan for tonight is to watch a better film and I might crack on with knitting the sleeves on my second Myrna cardigan. I sure know how to have a wild Saturday night, am I right?! I'm fine with that. Leamington on a Saturday night is genuinely disgusting. I'll stick to Thursday night pizza and prosecco.

But on the subject of knitting, here's a cardigan I finished last month. It's another Andi Satterlund Miette cardigan, and the third knitted garment I have made (I showed you my fourth - my pink Myrna - out of sequence. Because I'm a maverick like that, I guess) For some reason, after the first Miette I made being difficult because I was new to it, and then the second one being straightforward because I was getting my head around knitting, this one was really difficult again. I made so many mistakes on this one. It's Difficult Third Album syndrome. This is my Fables of the Reconstruction/Reconstruction of the Fables Miette:

Fables Cardigan - Andi Satterlund 'Miette' worn with Blah Blah, Fishcakes dress and Maguba Rio clogs

I knitted this in the exact same Rico cotton yarn that my Myrna is made from. Basically I had an assload of this yarn because the lady in the wool shop totally oversold me. I wasn't keen on the bubblegum pink colour and I didn't like working with the yarn so I don't really know WTF I was at when I was buying it! I bought some flamingo pink Dylon dye and, when the cardigan was finished, I dyed it. I figured that as the yarn was cotton it would take the dye pretty well, and it did! I dyed it in a bucket rather than in the machine so it's maybe not the most successful dye-job - I can see where the colour isn't as even as it could be. But I'm okay with that - it happened because I wasn't stirring the thing every fart's end as the instructions suggested - so really I'm happier with a slightly uneven colour than I would have been spending my evening standing in the kitchen stirring something. My aversion to doing that is why Nic does basically all of the cooking in our household. Unless he wants to eat toast.

The cute floral buttons were a gift from Jo - they were part of my Hen Party Boke Bucket of presents, and they go perfectly with the cardigan! And, if I sound like I'm less than happy with my cardigan, I don't mean to. Making it was frustrating but worth it - a hot pink cardigan is going to work with many, many items in my wardrobe and I am really happy with how it looks. I'm getting better at accepting that I'm at a totally different stage with knitting than I am with sewing, so while this Miette definitely isn't as accomplished as many of the others out there on the internet, I'm still really pleased with it! I tell you what, though: no more Rico cotton yarn for me. Do not like. The wearing of it is fine but I found it really irritating to work with.

Here she is, buttoned up

In fairness to the cotton yarn, it is actually nice and comfortable to wear. This cardigan is pretty perfect for the current weather in that it covers me up and I don't boil in the sunshine, and it keeps the chill off me in, for example, aggressively air-conditioned train carriages. I wore this a few Sundays ago when Nic and I went for a walk through the fields to the Saxon Mill. I did wear those heels on the walk, but they were very comfortable. It wasn't some 'fashion blogger in fields' thing. I missed a chance to get a photo taken in the very pretty cornfield but to be honest, by that stage I just wanted to get to the pub. PRIORITIES, PEOPLE.

Goofy out-take!

Anyway, despite my love of a good repeat, I have put the Miette pattern away from the time being. Once I have finished my current project, I'm getting started on another Andi Satterlund pattern, the Agatha, in some electric blue Cascade 220 100% wool yarn. I did try this pattern earlier this year but couldn't get my head around the pattern, but some expert advice from my friend Char got me going on it. So, in summary: yay!

So, that's me for the evening. I have to go and take the fabric I bought in Birmingham out of the washing machine. I also face the very important task of putting my pyjamas on and picking out a silly film for us to watch tonight. But! If you're in the UK and fancy reading a bit more of my writing - I have an article in this month's Love Sewing Magazine! It's out in shops on the 14th August. In fairness, it's mainly what you get here but without the swearing, but there is a pretty cute pattern with the magazine this month, so, you know. I'll just leave that bit of info there. Have a lovely weekend, all!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Oh, for crying out loud. You see, that's what feminism does. It makes smart girls with nice birthing shapes believe in fairy tales.

Evening dudes, what's happening? Not too much going on here. I've been having a busy few days at work but it's been nice. I've worked at home for the past few days on data analysis and it's been good - it's been giving my brain a work-out, and I have the best desk buddy. It's really lovely to share a desk with Nic - particularly as he makes such excellent coffee!

I've been doing a little bit of sewing and I have been knitting my little heart out - I started my second Andi Satterlund Myrna cardigan on Saturday and I'm almost ready to cast off the body - it's such a satisfying and quick pattern to knit and I already feel like I have learned so much since I made my first one. I do have some more knitting to show you later in the week, but this evening it's all about the sewing up in here. Because, guess what. I SEWED A NEW PATTERN. I know, right? I'm shocked too.

I bought Simplicity 1419 a couple of weeks ago. I was ordering zips from Jaycotts and thought I'd have a little browse through the patterns section, and took a notion to buy one. Simplicity 1419 had been on my radar ever since Sew Dolly Clackett because a fair few versions of it popped up then - it has a fitted bodice and a full skirt, so you can see why people chose it! Julia from Stars And Sunshine made a few and they were ALL adorable. So anyway, I bought it and I made it.

This was a really quick and fun project, as well. I sewed it up on a day when I was working from home - I cut the fabric out before work, basted the bodice to check the fit at lunchtime, and sewed the whole thing together in the afternoon when I finished. It would have taken longer if I had made a toile of the bodice but I took a chance on the sizing because I have usually found that the Simplicity bodice block works on my body. Also, I was using fabric that I could stand to lose - a cute cotton poplin that I had bought for £2 a metre on Goldhawk Road. But enough jibba jabba: here's the dress!

Elaine dress - Lisette for Simplicity 1419 in floral cotton poplin, worn with Irregular Choice Dippy Daisy shoes

This is a really cute pattern and very quick to sew, partly because it isn't lined. Normally with a dress this sort of shape I'd check the instructions and then do it my own way but I did mostly follow the instructions for this because of the keyhole detail at the neckline. The instructions are really thorough and give a good finish - the only thing I'll change the next time round is that rather than sewing a loop for the button, I'll use some elastic. The pattern piece provided for the button loop left me with something that was a bit too chunky to practically use.

Bodice view!

The fit isn't perfect, like, but it's grand. There are a few adjustments I'll make to the bodice for next time I make this dress. I'm going to redraw the armholes slightly so they're a bit freer, and I'm going to drop the neckline substantially. The pattern comes with an optional collar which I'm never going to make (not my style) and I suppose the neckline is so high for that reason. It's okay at the front but REALLY high at the back:

You can see here why redrawing the armholes a bit will be good. That's a lot of coverage!

I'm not used to having the neckline quite this high, and thought I'd feel strangled. In practice it was fine, though. I wore this dress to my friend Adam's wedding a few weeks ago and it was a really long day - we left the house before 7 in the morning and weren't in bed until well after midnight, and no strangulation happened. And this dress was comfortable and cute for dancing in, too!

You can't see it because of the busy fabric and the bright light, but the skirt is reasonably full and pleated at the sides - it's just lovely and it was worth the price of the pattern alone. Well, also the pattern includes a really cute jacket that I might get around to making someday. While I don't completely love this dress I definitely like it enough to make another one. My main reservation is that the very high neckline and a somewhat unfortunate print placement sort of combined so that the bodice makes me look HELLA busty. Well, actually, it's not all that bad. It just makes me feel like I'm all HELLO WORLD. BOOBS.

So that's the craic there with the Simplicity 1419 dress. I named her Elaine because in the week I made this, the wonderful actress Elaine Stritch died. It's hard to believe she was even more of a badass than Colleen Donaghy, but she was.

I sort of wish I had more to say about this and there was a bit more craic out of me this evening, but there isn't! The height of excitement for me today has been doing the grocery shopping and then having a jam doughnut in the cafe at Morrisons. Life certainly isn't all glamour, but I tell you what, that was a good doughnut.

But anyway. I have to go because tonight Nic and I are watching The X-Files: Fight The Future. Yeah, that first X-Files movie. Despite the recent sequel being an incomprehensible pile of ass - you can read my summary of it here - I'm very fond of the first movie. I saw it in the cinema when it came out twice in the space of two nights. It's not that I was a major X-Files fan (or X-philes, as they used to call themselves. Jesus) but the nearest cinema was in the next town and only had two screens, and it was either that or The Horse Whisperer. Which, no. For obvious reasons. So you'll have to excuse me because OMG ALIENS AND BEES AND SOMETHING TO DO WITH BLACK OIL.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Look, if you're gonna have some sort of rap, just be careful that you don't do a drive-by.

Hello! It's Sunday afternoon and a lovely one at that. I had an unexpectedly long weekend this weekend. I brought a laptop home from work on Wednesday to work from home on Thursday and Friday, only to find at lunchtime on Thursday that the wrong power pack was in the bag! We have shared laptops, you see. Anyway - my manager suggested that I could take Thursday afternoon and Friday as leave, and that's what I did. It's been brilliant! Work hasn't been super busy for the past couple of weeks but it has been a bit tedious, and I hadn't realised how much I needed a bit of a break until I got one. I did a bit of sewing, a bit of knitting, and Nic and I had a little morning out in Birmingham on Saturday. Today we went for a ramble and picked blackberries - I'm looking forward to making crumble later. Hurrah!

Anyway, I have been a reasonably busy bee and, having finished off an unselfish sewing project on Thursday I got back to what I do best - sewing dresses for myself - on Friday. I have older unblogged projects to share but I am kind of excited about this dress I made over the weekend so it's skipped the queue. How rude! 

Last weekend when I went to Stratford with Sarah and Char, we each bought some Liberty tana lawn from Fred Winter on Guild Street. This is quite a random shop, but they do have a good selection of Liberty fabrics, and a small selection of other fabrics too. You wouldn't know it from the street, either - it just looks like your average gifts and homewards store for the upper middle-class, but if you're in the Stratford area it's definitely worth a look. It looks like maybe they sell online too but be warned if you click through to that website - it's weird and I'm not sure that it works. Anyway - they had a sale on and while I'm not usually fussed on Liberty prints (most are too ditsy and fussy for me) I have come around to the feel of the tana lawn after making my wedding dress from it. Also, I totally fell in love with one of the sale bolts - the 'Tresco' print from 2013. 

At £16 a metre it was totally reasonable. I think I got slightly more than a metre and a half as well, as the dude on the till was highly amused by the three of us and was pretty generous with the cutting. Got to love that. This print is sort of random - lots of flowers and fruit, and those palm trees - and what really drew me to is was how lush the colours are, particularly the corals and lavenders in the print.

I couldn't wait to get sewing with it, and had bought it with a view to making yet another Emery dress with it. Which is what I did, but I decided to get slightly creative with the pattern. I was inspired quite a lot by the Sew Over It Betty dress that Marie blogged this week - particularly by the v-shaped back. I have the Betty pattern in my stash, having pattern tested it, but I wasn't especially happy with the fit of the bodice on me. So I hacked the Emery bodice, which does fit.

Monkey 47 dress and Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon shoes

The process was reasonably simple. I made the same adjustments to the armholes and shoulder seams as I did for the last sleeveless Emery dress I made. I drew a diagonal line down the back bodice piece to where I wanted the zip to end, and folded it under. Boom. Now, it was slightly complicated by the fact that there is a dart in the back neckline, and I should really have pinched this out. I didn't, and I didn't muslin this either (because I'm fucking lazy) so I ended up having to sew two small darts into the neckline. No biggie on a patterned fabric, but I'll fix that when I transfer this adjustment to a new pattern piece of its own.

Nic helped me to get the fit of the back bodice right. He has a mortal fear of stabbing me or himself with pins, but he got in there and pinched out the excess fabric for me like a trouper. That's just the kind of fitting that it's too hard to do on yourself!

Otherwise, this was a totally uneventful make and I sewed it really quickly. Everything people say about tana lawn being a delight to sew with is right - it has a lovely hand, is very light and behaves well. The only issue I encountered was the zip. I had a green concealed zip in my stash - one that I had bought from the four for a pound zip rummage box from that stall in Birmingham rag market that's next to the dog food stall? Well, I thought I was being pretty cute. The zip pull broke off the damn thing as soon as I went to zip it up! That's three zips out of four from that place that broke. I should have known better. Luckily, I had another zip - a weird chartreuse one which I have no memory of buying - that fit and matched pretty well. But yeah. Cheap zips suck ass.

I should say: I didn't go rambling in these cute but impractical heels. My usual front door photo spot is too much of a sun-trap to be much good for photos on really bright days. All the detail gets washed out and you just get a bunch of photos of me squinting. This wooded little riverside walk is across the road from our flat and it had the bonus today of being basically deserted. Which is good because the last few times I've had photos taken on my street I've had passers-by gawping - GAWPING - at me as if the invention of the camera is news to them. I know I shouldn't grumble because maybe it does look strange but stopping to stare and point is just fucking rude. But you can expect to see more photos in this spot, because I really like the way they came out!

Bodice view - I really love this print!

There's not too much more to say about this dress except that I'm really happy that my little experiment worked. Having to add the darts in at the last minute wasn't ideal but it wasn't a problem - and now I have a cute v-backed bodice that fits me well. That's great because I think the Betty pattern really is adorable but this saved me from having to adjust the fit of it too much. Short-cuts FTW.  I'm thinking of using some of the fabric I bought in Paris to sew this dress with a circle skirt so, you know, watch this space!

Selfie with my photographer/seamstress' assistant/husband (yikes: still finding that word difficult to get used to!)

I'm genuinely trying not to buy too much fabric at the moment because I have a bigger stash than I'm used to right now (due to all of the shopping that I did in Paris) but I am tempted to go back to old Fred Winter and buy some more sale Liberty. I'm not a convert by any means, but this stuff is nice!

Oh! And the name. You might be wondering, where are the monkeys. There aren't any. But the print is of a Botanical garden, and as I was sewing this I was drinking my new favourite gin, Monkey 47. I bought it as a payday treat from Leamington Wine Company and was advised to try it with cranberries - I haven't yet, but I can tell you that it's delicious with tonic water, strawberries and fresh basil. Here's a monkey gif, though, just in case you were disappointed:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Richard Nixon? I can't believe I'm dead. There was so still so much left on my bucket list. So many different kinds of buckets I wanted to own. Buckets.

Heeeeeeey! Hi everyone, happy Sunday! It's been a lovely sunny weekend here at Casa Clackett - I went to Stratford yesterday with Sarah and Char and bought some amazing Liberty fabric and some cheese (the cheese was for Nic) and I've been teaching today. We have a bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge and basically things are pretty sweet. Everything is lining up for old Dolly Clackett.

So, I'm still plugging away here trying to catch up with unblogged stuff I've made. This time you're getting two for the price of one, because I decided to take part in the Outfit-Along hosted by Lladybird and Andi Satterlund. I'm still not a stellar knitter but, having finished three Miette cardigans since December, I quite fancied the challenge and downloaded Andi's new Myrna pattern. I was able to knit it fairly quickly - I think in total it took me about two weeks - and I really enjoyed knitting it. It's not perfect - it's really far from perfect - but as it's only the fourth cardigan I've ever knitted, I can't be too upset about that!

Myrna cardigan by Andi Satterlund and Bedelia dress - Vogue V8998 in African wax cotton, worn with Maguba Rio clogs

Okay. Let's get my criticisms out of the way first. I should have made the cardigan a little bit longer - maybe about an inch - so that it hits my natural waist. As it stands it's a little bit too short. Also, I fluffed it a bit around the waist. I got right down to the ribbing, and then I had to frog the whole thing up to the armholes because I had got something twisted around (I don't know if there is a technical term for that. So Sorry, So Not A Real Knitter) and then when I was knitting the neckband, I think I might have missed some stitches or something, because it is tighter on one side than on the other. Sigh. You can see in the photo above there that it's coming up a bit higher on one side. That's exacerbated by me standing with one shoulder way up higher than the other, but it's there when I stand straight as well.

There's that dopey back again. Check out my keyhole, though.

So, being totally real, I might not wear this cardigan a lot. If at all. BUT I really enjoyed knitting it. It's a really good project for someone like me - it's quick because it's knitted mainly in stockinette, but there's enough shaping and lace work for it to not be really boring. I also learned new stuff - knitting and finishing the keyhole wasn't hard but it was an interesting challenge, and I LOVED knitting the sleeves - which are knitted and shaped using short rows. Myrna is a gorgeous pattern - a bit quicker than the Miette and maybe even a bit easier (you know, it would be if I hadn't made some silly mistakes) and I think probably easy enough to customise when I make it again. I'm thinking of knitting this again in a bright blue - similar to the blue of my dress - I just need to find the yarn. I used Rico cotton yarn for this cardigan and I have to admit, I kind of hated it. I'm not sure about the colour, and it's so fluffy! Pink cottony fluff everwhere, including in the back of my throat while knitting. Yuck. So, while this particular Myrna isn't a solid winner, the pattern itself totally is. Also: MYRNA. Myrna Loy is one of my favourite actors.  This is my desktop wallpaper, and it has been since 2007:

I want to be Myrna Loy when I grow up

It's hard not to get frustrated with the fact that I'm not that good at knitting, yet. I'm pretty good at sewing, and I can make the dresses I make fit me (mostly) and look pretty cute (mostly) and I usually know what I'm doing. This is not at all the case with knitting and I have to keep reminding myself that I've not been doing it for very long. Anyway - I just have to keep going and will try to stretch myself with each project. I certainly enjoy the process, even if the effort/benefit ratio isn't on my side yet.

"Should I put this picture of my not-very-good cardigan on the internet? Yeah, fuck it, probably."

The dress, now. The dress. The fabric might be familiar, and that's because it's the exact same as the fabric I used for the Ankara dress, which I posted about last week. I bought the navy/orange colourway of this fabric on Goldhawk Road and the shop had this blue/pink colourway, and a red/yellow one too. Anyway, I bought the blue in the shop but then when I got home regretted not also buying this one. So at, like, one in the morning, I went online and bought this fabric on ebay and some Swedish hasbeens from Asos. And then I went to sleep, feeling happy to have spent too much money on frivolous things.

I'd be standing up straight if I wasn't too busy trying to get knocked down. Maybe.

It's another Vogue V8998, this time with the 8-gored circle skirt that the lady in the neon yellow neoprene dress on the pattern envelope is wearing. Only, without the horsehair braid in the hem. The fit on this dress is still not perfect - I'm kind of stuggling to get that inset waistband not to wrinkle, but again this is sort of exacerbated by my total inability to stand up straight. In honesty, though, this is the kind of thing I am pointing out because I think that I should. It's not because it bothers me at all when I'm wearing the dress. It doesn't.

You can't see the wrinkle in this photo but WTF is going on with my crazyface?

I enjoyed sewing this version of V8998 much more than the partially gathered skirt version I made at the John Lewis Sewing Bee. It's more time-consuming because of all the panels, but I have to say that I cannot fault Vogue's drafting. This skirt fitted together really beautifully and with no bother - all the notches in the correct place and all of that jazz. As with the Anna dress I posed about the other day, I worked as methodically as I could with the skirt pieces, starting from the centre front and working outwards. It's even more important here, I think, because these pieces really DO look all the same! The pattern calls for a full lining but, do you know what? On an 8-gored circle skirt?

I lined the bodice and called it a day. And I guess I caught up with memes from two years ago because I'm so cool.

As with the Ankara dress, I did consider using piping to pick up either the hot pink or the navy of the stars. But, it seemed like print was busy enough as it was, so I left it. I used a hot pink zip, but I'm not going to show you because I already have one dipshit photo of my back in this post and I think that's quite enough. I will show you my shoes, though, because holy shit I love them:

Maguba 'Rio' clogs in rose pink from Lotta From Stockholm - these are currently on sale! (and those aren't affiliate links, by the way, so click away)

I've been wearing clogs pretty much constantly this summer, having bought some Betty clogs from Lotta in May, a couple of pairs of Swedish hasbeens since (and have another pair on the way, welp!) and some beautiful gold clogs from Atelier Scandinave when Nic and I were in Paris. It's been so hot that the idea of wearing any closed-toe shoes just does not appeal, and I find the wooden sole to be very kind to my feet on hot days. I've had a few people ask about breaking clogs in - and I will say that the only ones I have had to break in have been the Swedish hasbeens, which seem to have very stiff leather. I put these Maguba clogs on and they were immediately comfortable, and I have been wearing them loads since. I love this shade of pink, too, and I think they look really cute with my dress - so obviously I thought them totally necessary to complete my outfit for the Outfit Along. Logic.

In terms of a complete outfit, though, my entry to the Outfit Along definitely isn't totally successful. However, I have also knitted a hot pink Miette cardigan which will look perfect - but I can't really count it for this challenge as I started it months ago. I will blog that soon, but I did want to show you my Myrna, even if it does fall a bit short. It's all part of the process. My next one will be better!

I'll leave you with the name inspiration for the dress. Nic and I binge-watched S2 of Hannibal and, if you've been a reader for any length of time, you'll know how much I love Scully. Bedelia du Maurier isn't quite Scully-level awesome yet but I feel the character is getting there. Also: THAT HAIR.

"My tasting notebook? Oh, do fuck off."