In fairness, Nic and I did have a pretty lovely weekend of fun in London. We headed down on Friday afternoon, checked into the Re Hotel on the Hackney Road and then hustled to Shoreditch High Street to meet Jo and Alison for dinner at Pizza East. From there, we took the train to Peckham to party the night away with the By Hand London girls to celebrate their successful kickstarter. It was a really fun night - although I would probably have been best to avoid the vodka jelly shots, and Nic definitely would have been best to avoid them - and I even had a new dress for the occasion. I'll give you the full reveal in a separate post, but I think this photo probably gives you an idea of the kind of night we had...
Not even sure what we were dancing to here - I think it might have been Smooth by Rob Thomas featuring Carlos Santana!
With my dearest Rehanon
Our weekend in London had a dual purpose - to go to this party, but also to go to the wedding of two very dear friends, JP and Hannah, in Hackney Town Hall on Saturday. Saturday morning was bright and hot, and Nic and I dragged our tired and emotional (not hungover, oh no) selves out of bed and along to Broadway Market for breakfast. We bought coffee, pastel de nata and toasted sandwiches, and took them to a bench in the shade in London Fields. It was gorgeous. The toasties were amazing, by the way - vegetarian haggis, cheese and rocket - and came from Deeney's.
The wedding was beautiful. Much like our own, it was simple and small, with a short registry office ceremony. Afterwards, we all travelled back to JP and Hannah's flat for a party and lunch, before ending the evening at the Clerkenwell Green. It was absolutely lovely. I had long planned to make a dress to wear on the day, and had initially earmarked some of the fabric I bought in Paris. However, I got a very exciting piece of post from one Ms Heather B last week and it kind of jumped the queue. You might recall that Heather was one of the Sew Dolly Clackett winners, with a frankly breathtaking By Hand London Anna/Christine Haynes Emery dress mashup:
Photo borrowed from Heather - you can read her post about this dress here.
I mean. I KNOW. Let's leave aside the issue of the CHERRY SHOES for now (because, OMG) and focus on the dress, shall we? That poppy border print totally and utterly stole my heart. I would have flown to wherever Heather lives and wrestled Froggie for this dress. But I didn't have to, because when Heather saw this fabric for sale again she surprised me with two yards of it. I couldn't quite believe it when I opened it, and all I can say is a massive thankyou to Heather for not only being such an inspiration, but for being so unbelievably kind. Because the dress I made with this fabric is - along with my wedding dress - probably the prettiest dress I have ever made.
I was on strike on Thursday and spent the day sewing. I wore the dress to the wedding on Saturday and we didn't bring our camera, so I had to put it on today to get some photos of it. Also, I just wanted to wear it again because I love it so much!
Poppy Heather dress, worn with Swedish hasbeens heart sandals and Ollie and Nic apple bag
After the fabric arrived, I spent a fair bit of time debating what exactly to do with it. I knew that I was going to be reasonably limited by the yardage and the fact that it has such a distinctive border print. I was very much inspired by the way Heather placed the print on the bodice, but I didn't want to make a straight-up copy. Also, I didn't want to take a gamble on beautiful fabric that was such a thoughtful gift. I decided to go with what has become a total banker for me, the Emery dress.
I have made a couple of sleeveless Emery dresses before but the bodice isn't drafted to be sleeveless. I made a couple of adjustments to the paper pattern and made a toile of the bodice. I brought the shoulder seams up and I re-drew the armscye to take out the ease that's been drafted in for the sleeves. I also added about 1/4 of an inch to the underarm so it wasn't cut too low. I didn't need more than that because I had brought up the shoulder seams. I was happy with the fit after these adjustments so, heart in mouth, I cut into my fabric.
I just loved the look of the multi-coloured dots graduating down into the green of the print, so I cut the bodice pieces first. Cutting this way meant a bit of a sacrifice of the border print on the skirt - there wasn't enough of what remained for the border print to work the same on the front and the back skirt. I reasoned, well, the front of the dress is more important to me. Also, you know, it wasn't really a sacrifice because I think the back looks pretty cool as well:
As discussed in a previous post, I have a derp back. Annoyingly, you can see my zip at the waist seam, which I promise you can't when I am standing straight.
I did waver a bit about whether this would look better at the front, but basically I decided that I wanted all the colour up front. Looking at this photo - derp back aside - I think I made the right choice, but I am also pretty pleased with how the back looks. Hurrah!
Goofy side view
The dress was really enjoyable to sew. I lined the bodice and used the old burrito method to get everything neatly enclosed, and I turned and stitched all of the exposed seams. The fabric was particularly enjoyable to sew with - it's a really crisp medium-weight cotton with a bit of body to it. I believe it's a Milly cotton, and it was so nice to wear, as well. It held up beautifully throughout a long and hot day in London on Saturday and I felt great all day.
Heather bought the fabric from Elliott Berman Textiles, and it came beautifully packaged, wrapped in mint-green tissue paper and tied in a bow with some lovely lace trim. I wanted to do something special with this dress, so I used the lace to finish my hem:
The piece of trim wasn't long enough to go around the whole hem, but it had two edges with this scallop trim so I cut them off and that doubled what I had available - which turned out to be just a little bit more than I needed. I sewed it to the right side of the hem, and then pressed the whole thing up and catch-stitched along the tops of the scallops. This took ages - longer than most hand-stitched hems; it took six episodes of Dawson's Creek to finish - but I'm so glad I did it, because I really love the way it looks inside the dress.
I have another wedding to go to this coming weekend, but sadly it's going to be a lot of the same people that were at JP and Hannah's wedding, so I don't think I'll be able to wear this again. I'm just going to have to sew something else, as this dress is pretty memorable - especially as I made Nic a matching pocket square out of the tiny bit of fabric I had left over! As I say, we didn't bring our camera on the day so I didn't get proper photos of our outfits (Nic wore his wedding suit again, and looked gorgeous) but, as we were walking through London Fields, I was able to get this little iPhone photo of me in camouflage against a wildflower meadow:
I wore it with different shoes on Saturday - some more Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon shoes*
So that's my Poppy Heather dress. It's actually skipped the blogging queue - I have quite a few other things to blog about - but I think you can see why. I love it not only because the fabric is so beautiful, but because I am so touched by Heather's thoughtfulness and generosity in surprising me with it. It's been said many times that sewing bloggers are a wonderful bunch of people, and I find new evidence to support this all the time. Thank you so much, Heather. I shall have to find something equally fabulous to send to you.
Okay, I'm going to have to go in a minute to get to the fair. That candyfloss isn't going to eat itself, is it? But I am going to be self-induldgent and end on a couple of out-takes...
Nic told me to pull a cute face while showing my bag. Well, just look at the super-cute bag instead. I bought this just after our wedding after eyeing it from afar for aaaaaaages. It's pretty impractical, although it holds a surprising amount of stuff. I bought it from Aspire Style in Warwick.
Honestly not even sure what's happening here. I'll never be a fashion blogger, that's for damn sure...