Dancing the Charleston in the rain

A friend decided recently that, rather than having a party to celebrate entering her 30s, she was going to pre-empt it all and instead have a farewell to her 20s. As you might expect (or maybe you don’t?) the theme was all things F Scott Fitzgerald, with 20s style the lynchpin on which the evening was built.

Looking online at flapper dresses, I saw a couple of things that I liked the look of, but quickly found myself thinking “I could make that”. One quick trip to the rag market and several thousand dead sequins later, I had done just that.
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If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?


I regularly play ukulele as a part of Moselele and, whilst most of the time that just means sitting in a pub and raucously singing songs from the 80s, it also sometimes means performing actual concerts.

This year, we were asked to play a set as part of the celebrations for Birmingham Pride, which is held annually on the late May bank holiday. My immediate thought on hearing this was “I need to make a flag dress”.

So I did.
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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!

x

Unselfish sewing OR a dress for Jenny

IMG_5124

So back in December, my friend Jenny asked me if I’d be able to help her out with something rather exciting. She makes music under the name Rooks (and go check it out, because it’s amazing) and wanted to do something a bit different for her album launch in March. Namely, lights. So of course I agreed, because, frankly, when offered the opportunity to make a dress with lights in it, who’d say no?

What is it?

A sleeveless shift dress. With lights. You heard me. Lights.

Is it blue?

No

What’s the fabric and where is it from?

Black crepe from the indoor market at the Bullring. The bodice was lined with a black and white bird print cotton bought in Walthamstow.

What’s the pattern?

An altered version of the Lilou dress from Love at First Stitch.

What was good about making this?

Figuring out how to sew lights into a dress, and then threading them all the way through was a challenge but a fun one. It also meant that the dress had an incredible structure to the skirt due to all the wire snaking around inside. However, the absolute best thing, sappy as it is, is that I got to see one of my best friends wearing a dress that not only looked great, but that gave her a lot of joy, as evidenced by her switching it on and off after the gig to show people how it lit up. That was pretty magical

What was bad about making this?

I learnt that black fabric is not particularly interesting to sew with. I also found it really stressful to make something for someone else; as much as I worry about the fit when I make things for myself, I know that ultimately I can bodge it around myself. Not the case here by a long shot!

Would you make it again?

It depends if I’m asked!

x

Speedy spooky sewing

1-green dress 1Ok, so I’ll be honest, I don’t really know what counts as spooky sewing, however this definitely counts as speedy sewing; in under three hours this morning/afternoon I managed to sew up a whole dress!

What is it?

A green shift dress that forms the basis for my Halloween costume next week; I’m going to go as Poison Ivy although I’m going for more of a 50s theme Ivy and a bit less flesh-revealing than the traditional comic book character…. I’ll be cutting a load of ivy down from out garden to wrap around myself and into my hair and making my eyes all green and sparkly to complete the look.

Is it blue?

Nope, green. How many ivy plants have you seen that are blue?

What’s the fabric?

Really nasty cheap polycotton that I bought for a previous costume

What’s the pattern?

The pattern is one I drafted myself in a copy-your-clothes class. The original dress is one of my favourite ever RTW items. What you can’t see in this photo (not least because I haven’t sewn them on yet…) is that there’s a false opening on the back held together by buttons. The only difference I made was to the skirt which is a bit tighter than the original, not least due to the limited amount of fabric I had!

Where’s the fabric from?

I think it was from Fancy Silk?

What was good about making this?

I was really pleased with a couple of things with this. The first was how quickly it came together. I didn’t have any bias binding but managed to figure out a bodge for hemming the neckline which I was chuffed with.

green dress 2Basically, I sewed baste stitches at the 5/8  seam, then used these to help me turn the hem, cutting notches as necessary on any curved lines. I then pressed it all and resewed at 3/8. I was also pleased with the gathers connecting the skirt to the bodice, especially as the back pieces don’t connect so I had to make sure they lined up as neatly as possible without actually joining them (that doesn’t make sense but would if you saw the back)

What was bad about making this?

Despite being a copy of a dress I already have, I don’t like the way the armholes sit when the dress is on, nor do I like where the bust darts are. It also seems tighter than expected, which is a bit of a worry.

Ultimately, although it’s a bit rough around the edges, I’m pleased with the speed that this came together. Besides which, once I’ve dressed it up with ivy and the like (and I’ll share pictures next week after the party) all the bodges and rough bits will be hidden and no-one will know!

How about you? Are you making a costume for the spookiest night of the year (possibly)?