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.
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.
The Sew Over It shirt dress had been on my radar for a while ever since the first SewBrum I went to where Gabby was wearing a fabulous contrast shirt dress.
I actually bought the pattern in the middle of last year but it has languished in my stash pile for a while whilst I searched for just the right fabric to do it justice. It took surprisingly longer than expected, but I think (I hope?) you’ll agree with me that the wait was worth it!
Back when I went fabric shopping in Hong Kong with Vicki one of the things I absolutely fell in love with was a woven monochrome wool, a bit like houndstooth but more like stars (or at least, more like stars in my eyes).
I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to turn it into a coat, and found myself stood with Vicki in the baking heat trying to figure out how much material I’d need for a winter coat (a very strange experience I must say).
I settled on three metres, but, when I got home and remeasured the fabric, I discovered a fatal flaw in my plan; I might have been talking in metres but the shop owner was definitely listening in yards! That left me with 2.7 m of fabric – not a shabby amount but not quite as much to play with.
Then I started looking for the perfect pattern. I found it, it was glorious.
As far as I’m concerned, there ain’t no party like a Moneta party. This fantastically fun Instagram escapade was the brain child of the Triple Stitchers (Elle, Rach and Abi) and was the perfect opportunity to make a new Moneta (not that I need a lot of encouraging….).
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”.
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
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).
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!
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!
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?
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….
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.