Sixties mania!


A lot of the time my work wear is the same as my rest of the time wear; it’s one of the joys of both working in the arts and (mainly) working from home. It means I get to spend most days wearing dresses I love with the added bonus of vomit jumpers on days working from home.

Whilst dressmaking has really added to this ability, my most recent make for the Simple Sew bloggers network has bucked this trend somewhat, as – despite it’s cute vintage stylings – it really could count as “office wear”.

What is it?

A tailored shift dress with three quarter length sleeves and a contrast peter pan collar


Is it blue?

Yes

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

The body of the dress is made using an adorable navy floral print cotton poplin that was very kindly supplied by Abakhan for this make. The collar also came from Abakhan and is a super soft cream coloured viscose.
What’s the pattern?

The Simple Sew Trudy dress in view B.

What was good about making this?

The first thing to say is that this dress was super easy to sew up. I made a toile first to check for bust fit after the issues I had with Ruby, and once I’d made some minor adjustments it went up in hardly any time.

In addition, although I’m not sure if good is the right word, this dress did push me out of my comfort zone due it’s sixties styling; whilst I love classic details, the sixties aren’t usually a decade that I look to for inspiration as I tend to find that the styles just don’t suit me. Making this dress has helped change that assumption somewhat (although I doubt I’ll be emulating Twiggy any time soon!).


What was bad about making it?

For some reason I couldn’t get the collar to stay put at the back, although that was fixed with a bit of invisible stitching. I found I had to make a really thin hem on the dress, which might have been a design feature (the 60s were all about the mini after all) but I think might be more to do with a combination of my height and personal preference to not show my bottom to the world!

Would you make it again?

Hmmmm….. So I think I might be a bit swayed towards the sixties aesthetic, but I’m not sure I’d make this dress again without making a few tweaks first. There’s also a couple of other similar but different dresses out there which I might give a try. Or maybe I’ll just go back to my usual fit and flare style. Only time will tell. (And Instagram. Instagram always tells.)

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Disclaimer: whilst the Trudy pattern was provided by Simple Sew Patterns and the fabric generously provided by Abakhan, I received no other forms of payment for this blog post and the opinions expressed are my own.

The case for the prosecution

The case

Over the last few months I’ve been noticing something strange in amongst my usual sewing projects. Namely that there’s been things that haven’t been made by me for me. It seems that – unwittingly – I may have become an unselfish sewer.

Clue 1 – Christmas waistcoats


It started off casually enough when, building on our Christmas card, I made matching waistcoats for the boy’s brothers for Christmas. Yes, it’s a gift but well, they’re part of a joke, nothing more. Plus I’d already made a white one for the boy, so making two more wasn’t much of a hassle.

Clue 2 – A very loud shirt

© Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now (www.fb.com/wearehereandnow)

My brother is a lover of loud vintage shirts and I figured what could be better than a loud vintage shirt chosen by your sister but a loud vintage-esque shirt made by your sister? This train of thought led to my making a Negroni shirt for him for Christmas using the most insanely loud Liberty fabric I’ve ever seen from the rag market (and man do I love that fabric).

It was a dream to make up and even more of a dream when, on Christmas day, not only did he love it as soon as he opened it but it was a perfect fit (I’d been a bit worried about making something without any measurements).

© Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now (www.fb.com/wearehereandnow)

As for the particularly professional photos with this one, my brother’s a DJ and he also runs amazing events in Bristol, so the fact he wore the shirt to one of their events is pretty much the highest honour I could ask for!

Clue 3 – Secret Valentine’s Exchange


In mid-January sign ups went live for this year’s Secret Valentine Exchange. I’d not taken part before, but I know a lot of people who really love it as a swap, so thought I’d get on board. Besides, it’s not really selfish sewing if you’re going to get something in return, right?


My gift went to Nina, and based on her love of orange and blue and her frankly awesome knitting skills I made her a knitting needle roll using this tutorial from Guthrie & Ghani. The chambray was in my stash from my shirt dress, whilst the orange came from a single fat quarter. I made the piping out of some bias binding I had. I also sent some yarn and knitting needles, because you can’t have an empty needle holder or needles with nothing to go on them!


In return I received a wonderful gift from Amy, you can find out more on my Instagram feed.

Clue 4 – sewing for a baby

The boy’s sister-in-law has just had a baby, making me an auntie by proxy, so of course I sewed something up for the little baby, I mean, he’s so cute (baby not boy) that it would have been cruel not to. Plus, I already had the bib pattern from the sewing I’ve been doing as a part of The Big Sew (which, yes, is also unselfish, but shh, or rather, click through and find out how you can help!) so it wasn’t even like it was that big of a deal. Honest.Verdict

It seems it’s confirmed. I am a handmade gift giver, no two ways about it. Still, given that my next few projects are all for me, I don’t think the title will stick too hard!

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Time pressures? What time pressures?

New Year’s Eve is a strange thing; for some people there’s nothing they like more than staying out into the wee small hours, giddy and drunk on the promise of a new year, whilst for others they couldn’t care less and are happily tucked up in bed like on most other nights of the year.

I am not one of the latter people.

And as one of those who like a good party on NYE, I also like to have a fancy dress to wear.

This year (16 into 17) I was thinking about my dress for months. Not on purpose. It was more that I had a vision in my head of the perfect dress that I wanted to make but no opportunity to wear it. A leopard print wiggle dress. Outrageous but, for NYE, just outrageous enough.

I found a pattern, I found some amazing leopard print scuba in Dalston, I was away.

And then, at 4:30pm on New Year’s Eve I actually tried on the dress (I’d not had a chance to before then because of various Christmas crafting projects and Christmas being social projects).

It was a disaster. Not unsalvageable. But certainly not something that could be sorted before heading out to a party.

I had less than two and a half hours before we headed out, and I needed to eat in that time. It would have been madness to try and make something new in that time, right?

Right.

I did it anyway…..


What is it?

A slash neck dress with a three quarter circle skirt.

Is it blue?

No, but it is a turquoisey green which can sometimes count….

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

A gorgeous African wax print that I bought from the rag market during Sew Brum.

What’s the pattern?

The By Hand London Anna dress with the three quarter circle skirt I drafted for my Christmas dress

What was good about making this?

Erm, getting it done in two hours (allowing for the break for dinner)? I cut the fabric out not really sure if I would actually manage to get it done in time, so getting it all sorted felt pretty good. Plus, in amongst the mild mania of the creation, I managed to get a neat pattern match on the bodice back and I’m really pleased with the pattern placement of the yellow spiral on the bodice.

Would you look at the pattern placement on that….

What was bad about making this?

I did feel pretty rude when our friends turned up for pre-drinks and I went “can’t talk, got to hem!”. They all went and played some weird game about Vikings (so weird, a half hour of googling can’t find it…) with the boy instead. To be honest, based on the sounds of confusion they were making, I’m not sure who got the worst deal there….

SWOOOOOOSH

Would you make it again?

I would. I’m smitten with this dress and have worn it a couple of times already in the last month. It swooshes ever so nicely and is dressy without feeling over the top.

Although next time, I might try to take my time with it.

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The most ridiculous time of the year

Before we start, yes, it is now February. And yes, this is a blog post about Christmas. Your point…?

SO VERY EXCITED

Ah Christmas. A time for all sorts of ridiculous things, including, for reasons I’m still not entirely sure of, a decision to make matching Christmas outfits for me and the boy, along with a bow for Pickle, and then pose for a “family photo” which got used on all of our Christmas cards….

To avoid us turning into a Buzzfeed listicle about people who love Christmas a bit too much, I’m not going to post either the actual photo or any of the out-takes. If you’re really good, maybe, just maybe, Father Christmas will bring them to you next year / I’ll show the picture to you at some point in the future in a real world setting.

It went into the real world too!
(This is just before I went out for my work’s Christmas do.)

What is it?

For me; a holly print dress with a sweetheart neckline and three-quarters circle skirt. The boy had a waistcoat and bow tie of the same material, whilst Pickle had a bow that was attached to her collar.

Is it blue?

No

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

I bought several metres of holly print polycotton from Minerva Crafts. I lined my dress with some cream cotton I already had, and the waistcoat with white fabric from the rag market.

Imagine this is being worn by a man with a beard.
Also, note the holly shaped buttons #twee

What’s the pattern?

My dress is a modified Mortmain dress by Gather patterns; the sweetheart is the same one used on the second space dress whilst I drafted the three-quarters circle skirt specifically for this dress. The waistcoat is Simplicity 8023 view A, and I copied the bow tie from a pre-existing bow tie that the boy has. Pickle’s bow was the easiest of all; a square of fabric tied together and attached to a new collar, so no pattern needed!

What was good about making this?

The best thing was probably the fact that it made me laugh every time I thought about what we were doing, and then laugh again every time I have seen the picture since. Or maybe the actual best thing was when the cards started landing and people were telling us how much they had enjoyed the cards. That was pretty nice too.

(and yes, that’s a horrendously corny answer, but if you can’t be corny at when writing about Christmas, when can you be corny?)

Why yes, there is a cat treat out of shot to get her to look up long
enough to show off her fancy bow tie. How did you guess?

What was bad about making this?

There was a fair bit of strategy involved in getting Pickle involved in the photo, which probably counts as part of the making. In the end, we got the collar on her the day before so that she wouldn’t then run away as soon as I tried to pick her up for the photo (she hates having her collar changed).

Would you make it again?

This was a fairly niche make… And whilst I have already had friends ask what our plan for next Christmas is, I’m a bit worried about making a rod for my own back. So for now, let’s say no, but maybe ask me again in December / next February!

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