Get on your bikes and ride!

Several years ago I bought a bike. I’d not ridden a bike in at least a decade, so I made a couple of crucial decisions when making my purchase, chief of which was that the bike had to be something that aesthetically I liked the look of so that, even if I didn’t ride it very often, I’d feel happy when I did ride it.

The result of this was that I bought a bike that is highly unpractical for someone who lives on the top of the hill, but a bike which, nonetheless I love. I try to cycle to and from the station whenever I’ve got a meeting (although not if it’s raining after a rather unfortunate experience), and I have a rule that whatever I’m wearing to the meeting is what I’ll be cycling in.

The upshot of this is that I regularly cycle in pretty much all of the things that have appeared on this blog, and I’ve got a bit of a reputation amongst my friends and family for having a bordering-on-ludicrous bike.

This dress is the next logical step.
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Have dress, will travel

It was that weird hinterland between Christmas and New Year and we were dashing from a (slightly) boozy lunch with friends to a (slightly more) boozy dinner with the boy’s family.

Nonetheless, my Christmas money was burning a hole in my pocket, so I found myself going into Guthrie and Ghani. Don’t look like that, it’s just next to the pub where we had lunch and they had a sale on, so it was definitely justified.

Whilst looking through all of the beautiful fabrics I stumbled across something glorious: fabric covered in replicas of those fabulous vintage travel posters that make me long for the golden age of travel (let’s ignore the fact that, given the ease of global travel, that might actually be now….).

I knew immediately that this would be my travelling dress. I also knew that it wouldn’t be worn until the next time I went on a proper adventure.

As luck would have it, that proper adventure was just around the corner.

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I shall (probably) go to the ball!


Over the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of excitement around the Dressmaker’s Ball, an event that’s being hosted by Crafty Sew & So in Leicester on 12 May. Over at the Simple Sew blog team this excitement has culminated in a month of party dresses made from Simple Sew patterns.

When it was time for me to pick a pattern, I knew I wanted something that could be turned quite easily from a day to day staple into something that shouted red carpet (although not literally, of course!) and I think I found it.

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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”.

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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.

x

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

I cord-n’t stop the awful puns


In the middle of the summer, I got in to my head that the dress I wanted for autumn was a blue needlecord dungaree dress. I didn’t know why, it was just what I wanted.

Time marched on, and I found myself in September, having not bought any corduroy. Tilly & the Buttons had just launched Cleo so suddenly the internet was awash with dungaree dresses.

Still I didn’t pull my finger out.

Then, I went to Hong Kong, and when I came back I knew exactly what the first thing I was going to make was. That dungaree dress I’d had my eye on for months. It took me until the middle of November. It was worth it.

Coupled with my trust Belle and Sebastian brooch

What is it?

A corduroy dungaree dress

Is it blue?

Yes!

What’s the fabric and where is it from?

The fabric is a thickish corduroy which is actually leftover sofa material from the time that I made a sofa cover that I then dyed blue with machine dye. The whole process made me feel like a wizard, which was pretty cool.


What’s the pattern?

It’s a mash up of the Hollyburn skirt and the Cotton & Chalk Sunday Set pattern, which I got free with a copy of Simply sewing magazine. I really liked the dungaree part of the Sunday Set, but wanted a longer skirt, and I also wanted slash pockets in the skirt which the Hollyburn has.

What was good about making it?

The sense of achievement pulling together lots of different patterns to make a dress was pretty cool. I also like the fact that I’ve managed to make something that combines my usual style with something a bit more casual.

On top of this, I got to use my trusty clamp (or whatever it is they’re called; the squeezy plier things) to squeeze the jeans buttons in place, and that’s always fun.

Look how neat it looks!

Finally, the two tone effect that occurred due to the machine dying meant that not only does the fabric have a really interesting variation in it, but the cutting and sewing was a piece of cake as everything was in clear straight lines.

What was bad about making it?

Turning the dungaree straps. Oh man that was a pain. They’re quite long, and quite thing, which, adding in the thickness of the fabric meant it was totally unwieldy to deal with.

Would you make it again?

Probably not. Not because I don’t love it (and indeed, I’ve had a load of wear out of it over the last two months) but, realistically, I don’t think I’d wear another dungaree dress!

x