Friday, April 18, 2014

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Pizza in progress...

Pizza success!

Too Much Fun with Too Many Dresses

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

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

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