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Hello hello HELL-OOOH!

I hope you're all grand. I'm feeling pretty grand: I have been (mostly) enjoying the warm, sunny weather - on the one hand I do not enjoy the hayfever and the fact that I swell up in the heat (sooooo attractive, right?) but on the other hand I am getting lots of wear out of my large collection of sandals.

I'm currently feeling pretty good because my summer of horrible work travel is almost over - I am done with trips to Slough and Milton Keynes for the forseeable future and apart from one day in Doncaster, the summer is looking blissfully free of budget hotels in places I don't want to be. It's the little things, really. It's good to find happiness in the little things because, fuck knows, there is more than enough misery in the world at the moment.

I've been spending lots of time enjoying the sunshine, reading, watching TV and films and sewing. Towards the end of last year, when life was extremely stressful and I was very bummed out by the endless winter, I made a promise to myself to make time to read every evening before going to sleep. This isn't a big committment - all throughout my life, I have loved to read, but I had fallen out of the habit of making time to read regularly. It's something that is probably familiar to lots of us - I was spending time in the evening scrolling through twitter, which left me too exhausted to read but too wound up to sleep. Putting my phone away and making myself pick up a book instead was an easy solution and it didn't take long to make it into a habit again.

Since January, I have read 30 books, all but one of which have been books I've read for the first time. A lot of it has been comfort reading in the sense that I know the characters from TV - I've read a fair few Ian Rankin Rebus books and I've been getting into Henning Mankell's Wallander in a big way, but I've also read some great non-fiction and a few books I've been meaning to read for a while. It has widened my tastes in reading and while I've only read one total dud (Naomi Alderman's The Power - I hated it and I can't really explain why) I have read a few books that I really loved, like The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard.

Nic and I spent one rainy afternoon in Paris reading and drinking in a neighbourhood bar in Batignolles and it was perfect.

The TV and film situation has been good too, although I have been making less of an effort to only watch new things. Earlier this year, on a whim, I bought S1 of LA Law on DVD - Nic and I finally got to the end of NYPD Blue and I wanted to watch something else starring Jimmy Smits that wasn't The West Wing (wonderful, but too depressing to watch it given the monster that is currently in the white house) or Sons of Anarchy (lol but no.) In addition, I figured that something co-created by Stephen Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher with a theme tune by Mike Post would be right up my street. AND I WAS RIGHT. I love it.

I mean, what's not to like? I love a good legal drama, the cast is fantastic and the title sequence is literally a solid minute and a half of people walking in and out of conference rooms while synthesisers and saxophones play. It is SO good.

L.A. Law - season 1 opening titles - YouTube

It's also very encouraging to be watching and enjoying so much something that was first broadcast in the late 80s - the next time someone hectors me for not having watched something yet, I will remind them that the current hot TV shows will still be around in a few years time. But also that I have less than no interest in ever watching Breaking Bad. That's even more of a lol, no than Sons of Anarchy.

Anyway... SEWING, one of my other interests and the thing that probably brings you to this blog. Today I'm going to show you a dress I made in May, from fabric that I bought last year. The craic with this dress is that last autumn, I fell in love with one of the fabrics from Gertie's range for Spotlight stores in Australia - this fabric:

Now, I'm not in Australia and Spotlight don't ship internationally, but luckily for me there is a wonderful international community of sewing people who will help a sister out. The amazing Colette kindly agreed to get hold of some of the fabric and post it to me, which just left me with the dilemma of what to do with it. Thankfully, Gertie herself solved that problem by way of her collaboration with Butterick:

Butterick B6556

I love border prints but I find they can be a little bit tricky to work with - working perpendicular to the grain rather than parallel to it changes the fit, and with such lovely fabric I didn't want to risk ending up with a dress that was a pain to fit. B6556 is the perfect pattern to use with a border print like this one, though as, judging by the grainlines on the pattern pieces, it has been drafted to work well with border prints.

I started by making a bodice toile, which showed me that I needed to shorten the bodice by an inch. Then I made a wearable toile with wax cotton from my stash that has the print running parallel to the selvedge:

Love Like Mine dress - Butterick B6556 in umbrella print wax cotton, worn with Swedish Hasbeens heart sandals

I didn't have enough of the fabric to use the skirt pieces from the pattern and I wasn't sure about the notched neckline so I straightened it. I don't love the finished article but I can't put my finger on why - I think it's just that I don't love the colours on me - so I have packed it away to reassess it at a later date. Because I had some reservations about the dress, I decided to make another one before cutting into my precious rose fabric, so I made another version with some fabric I got from Marie's destash:

No Tea No Shade dress, worn with Swedish Hasbeens Katja sandals

This time, I did sew the notched neckline and I had enough fabric to sew the skirt from the pattern and I LOVED the finished dress. Don't let the necklace fool you: this was love:

Amazing Nope necklace by my good friend Storij Designs

I was convinced, so I finally took the plunge and cut into my lovely rose fabric:

Games People Play dress worn with Swedish Hasbeens peep-toe sandals

There isn't a huge amount to say about the construction of this dress - I can't really speak to the instructions as I just glanced at them, but it all came together pretty much as you might expect. As you can see, I didn't sew sleeves on my dress - the photo on the envelope gave me the impression that they would be quite restrictive as the armscye looks to come quite far down the arm - I might be totally wrong about it, but it looks like it might be difficult to fit.

Look at that neckline!

But that note of caution aside, I do really like this pattern. I think the shape of the neckline is really sweet and I love the full, pleated skirt. The back neckline is also quite lovely:

A rare sighting of my back! I used a concealed zip rather than the lapped one called for in the pattern, just because this is what I prefer.

I really love the finished dress and I feel super fancy when I wear it. It had its first outing in Paris for a day in Montmartre. I took it to visit the Rue Caulaincourt pizza man:

You know he's serious about making pizza because he is wearing a vest.

I wore it to drink champagne on a roof terrace:

Me, the Tour Montparnasse, the Tour Eiffel and a glass of Laurent-Perrier

I wore it to drink rosé on a roof terrace:

The dress and I had a lovely day.

It feels a bit dressy for everyday, which is partly because of the fabric, which is cotton sateen with a bit of a sheen to it and partly because the neckline is a bit lower than I am used to. But, for the times when I can't wear it to drink champagne in Paris, I might make like Carrie Bradshaw, for whom the dress is named, and tell people I'm wearing it because it's laundry day:

This was one of my other inspirations for this dress, although I hope that wearing it does not result in having to have sex with Jon Bon Jovi.

So that's the craic with this dress, which really does feel like an international sewing blogger effort what with the design coming from America and the fabric coming from Australia. I didn't really contribute anything to it, to be honest, but at least I treated the dress right and took it on holiday to Paris. I'm good that way.

Anyway now it's time for me to scoot on and maybe watch an episode of LA Law. I'd normally insert a gif here but the show is so old now that it's hard to find gifs of it so instead here's Jonathan from Queer Eye because he is an angel sent to bless us with his sweetness:

Good night, honeys!
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Why hello there, it's yourselves! I hope you're all well. I'm currently enjoying this ridiculously sunny and warm weather - as a faintly blue-tinged Irish woman, I'm not really physically compatible with such heat (I swell up, I get heatrash, I burn REALLY easily) but as someone who has 11,000 pairs of sandals and even more sundresses, I am very happy to be seeing the sun. I have been busy trying to get back into the swing of work and I had the unmitigated joy of spending last week in delightful Slough. Did I say 'unmitigated joy'? Hmm... that's not quite what I mean.

It was a pretty trying week, to be honest. It was a week of extremely busy days in a fairly unsuitable environment with very little to do in the evenings, because Slough is generally quite shit and horrible (apologies to any readers in Slough... but, I mean, I'm not wrong.) It was better than it could have been becuase my colleagues are lovely, the much prettier town of Windsor was a short walk away and... well, the week eventually came to an end and I was able to come home. My own bed never seemed quite so sweet as it did after a week spent in a budget hotel next to Slough railway station. I was meant to be spending most of the first week of July in a similar budget hotel situation in Milton Keynes (I do not get to have fun work travel, sadly) but thankfully those plans have changed. I don't think I would have been able to cope with all of that excitement.

Slough internet... one of the issues during the week was how slow the internet was when we needed to get all of the work done on an online system. Communictations Limited was extremely apt.

Slough aside, life is pretty good. I've been enjoying the good weather and trying to make the most of it by having nice days out whenever possible. Over the last few months, Nic and I have been taking occasional day-trips to Oxford. It's only a 35-minute train journey from Leamington but as neither of us much like the city centre, it's not somewhere we had previously been interested in going to very often. This changed a few months back when we decided to explore the outlying suburbs and we had a lovely day in Jericho.

Here's me acting the fashion blogger on Observatory Street in Jericho.

On the day of the royal wedding, we had a very pleasant day pottering along the Thames path. A few weeks ago, we decided to walk along the canal to Wolvercote and find some riverside pubs - as Morse fans, we decided to aim for The Trout (which Morse visits in The Wolvercote Tongue and Second Time Around) with anything else being a bonus - we also ended up in The Perch at Binsey (which Morse and Lewis visited in The Daughters of Cain.) I decided to wear a dress that I made back in April for the occasion:

La Piscine dress - Butterick 6333/McCall's 6696 mash-up in Lou Taylor swimmers cotton worn with Swedish Hasbeens heart sandals.

So, the craic with this dress is THIS FABRIC.


The fabric is by the amazing Lou Taylor and is based on her swimmers design from the Lido collection. I love Lou Taylor's designs and own quite a few of her pieces - the swimmer necklace this print is based on was the first one I bought.

I love this swimmers necklace a whole lot. You can get it here and that's not an affiliate link.

Over the last while, Lou has been working on fabric and accessories based on her prints and she got in touch with me in March to see if I would be interested in testing out the dress-weight version of her lovely swimmers cotton. I don't mind telling you that I leaped at this - I was extremely excited by the thought of a Lou Taylor dress! I even had an inspiration dress in mind - this swimmer-print shirt-dress from Palava:

Louise swimmers dress from Palava - also not an affiliate link!

Lou sent me 3 metres of swimmers fabric, which is 150cm wide. I decided that I wanted quite a classic shirt-dress shape - something along the lines of M6696, but without a waistband as I didn't think it would work well with the print. I decided to do a mash-up of B6333 and M6696 - the bodice from B6333 with the skirt and collar from M6696. It turned out to be a match made in heaven - or at least, I think so!

I dithered for a while over what colour buttons I should use - I thought that dark blue buttons would blend in and leave the focus on the print, but in the end I went for these cute orange buttons from the fabric shop I am lucky enough to have at the top of my street. I think they are brilliant - they stand out really nicely and give the dress an even more fun, retro feeling!

The amazing Kraken necklace is from Birch, Please.

I don't have a huge amount to say about the construction of this dress because it was very straightfoward. Blending the two patterns together was very easy as they're from the same family, so they fit together really nicely. The fabric was very well-behaved to work with - it's a medium-weight poplin with a slight texure to it (almost with a linen feel) that takes very well to pressing.

A limited amount of the fabric went on sale in April and it sold out very quickly. Real talk - it was expensive. It was (I think) £65 per metre, which made it the most expensive fabric I have ever worked with. I can't argue with the price - the fabric is very lovely quality, of course, but what you're paying for is the design, which is wonderful. Lou Taylor doesn't have fabric available to buy at the moment, but if she brought out more prints in future I would be seriously tempted - particularly if the lobster print ever became available!

I'm currently growing the henna out of my hair, hence the weird two-tonedness of it in these photos! I had it cut last week and it's looking better... but just in case you were wondering why I was bringing the red panda realness!

After making my shirt-dress, I had about 1.2m of fabric left - which turned out to be enough to eke another dress out of! The print isn't directional and the fabric is lovely and wide, so I was able to make an Emery dress with a pleated skirt from it. I'm not sorry to have this amazing print in my wardrobe more than once.

Passport to Pimlico dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress worn with Swedish Hasbeens Merci sandals

Obviously I have been wearing the dresses with my swimmers necklace - you might be able to see it in the photo above - I mean, obviously it's too much, but it's not like that has ever stopped me in the past. A few weeks ago I ordered another Lou Taylor necklace to wear with them - this crab necklace. I am super excited for it to arrive!

So anyway, back to our day out in Oxford. We had a lovely time. I drank champagne and chatted with the ducks at The Trout, had lemonade in the sunshine at The Perch and ate a masala dosa near the railway station before getting the train home.

Loving life, trying to keep my champagne away from the ducks. You know yourself.

That's the craic with me. This weekend we're off to Birmingham as we have been invited to a cocktail party with some friends and we're hoping to also fit in seeing Dippy on tour at the Museum and Art gallery and maybe even a sneaky trip to the champagne bar in the Cube... you know how I roll! So with that in mind, I must go and tackle some of the giant ironing pile that is threatening to eat my living room... but, after a week in Slough I'm still feeling so good about being at home that even ironing seems enjoyable. Goodnight!
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WELL. Well, well, well, well.

It's been five months since I last blogged, which is guess is not so much a break as a sabbatical. A hiatus? Either way, it wasn't intentional, although I did end up spending some of that time wondering whether I was ready to give up blogging. I had pretty much decided that I had, but then Nic and I had a lovely two weeks on holiday and, like the best holidays do, it reminded me about how I feel about myself when I spend time doing things I enjoy, which made me want to get back to writing. Here I am!

The fact is, the world is very crazy at the moment. It is so crazy and overwhelming that it has been almost impossible for me to find the words for any of it. It's been hard because I have so many FEELINGS and there are so many things to have feelings about - where does writing about sewing and shoes and TV fit into that?

Anyway, on holiday Nic promised not to talk about work and I promised not to talk about Brexit or Northern Ireland or reproductive rights, and that enforced break turned out to be really good for us both. We've had a stressful year personally, too, so taking some time to pause and hit the reset button has been really good.

So that's the craic there anyway.

Nic and I have just come back from a very lovely ten days in Paris. We stayed in the same apartment we stayed in last year, a beautiful place in a Haussmann building in Batignolles/Monceau. This was our seventh visit to Paris in the last ten years, so we went with no plans except to flâneur about the place and enjoy ourselves, which is exactly what we did. We did lots of fun things, including some of the touristy things we hadn't done yet. We walked across the Pont de Bir Hakeim and I got a good blogger photo with the Eiffel Tower:

It was a bit damp and misty that morning - our first in Paris - and I liked how moody it made the Eiffel Tower look!

We went to the top of the Tour Montparnasse. This is something I have wanted to do for years, but it has always been too hot. I'm so glad that we finally did! The tour is impressively ugly up close - like, you think it looks bad from a distance, but it is something else up close:

I mean, it looks so crap, but I am a little bit sad that they have plans to beautify it because I love ugly things. Your ticket gets you access to the viewing lobby on the second-to-last floor, which is sort of endearingly crap, as well as to the actual roof, which is fantastic. There is nothing on the roof itself apart from a champagne bar and some weird plastic chairs, but of course the view is so good you don't need any distraction. Because Paris is quite low-rise, there isn't the same wow factor that you get from the the Top of the Rock (or any of the other tall buildings there - that's the only one I have been to the top of) but I loved seeing my favourite city spread out below me WITH CHAMPAGNE.

It made me feel very happy and quite emotional, not least because it called to mind the wonderful short film by Alexander Payne from Paris Je T'Aime called 14e Arrondissement, in which Margo Martindale's character, Carol, visits the tower.

Paris, je T'aime (2006) - 14e Arrondissement - YouTube

Et puis, quelque chose est arrivé, quelque chose difficile de décrire. Assise là, et être seule dans un pays étranger, loin de mon travail et de tous les gens que je connais, un sentiment est venu à moi. C’était comme si je me souvenais de quelque chose que je n’ai jamais connu, ou que j’avais attendu toujours, mais je ne savais pas quoi. Peut‐être c’était quelque chose que j’avais oublié ou quelque chose qui m’a manqué toute ma vie. Seulement, je peux vous dire que j’ai senti en même temps la joie et la tristesse, mais pas trop tristesse, parce que je me sentais vivante. Oui, vivante.
Ça c’était le moment que j’ai commencé à aimer Paris...et le moment que j’ai senti que Paris m’aimait aussi. 

We also finally took a trip on a bateau-mouche. I'm not sure why it took us so long to do this because we both love going on boats, but anyway, I'm so glad we did! It was a very hot day and of course people are the absolute fucking worst, but it was a lot of fun to see Paris from the water. I also found the audio guide kind of hilarious.

The Eiffel Tower, seen from the water. This was on the journey back, shortly before the cruise finished, and people lost their fucking minds when we went past this. I'm not exaggerating - it was utter bedlam. It was honestly more entertaining watching that than looking at the scenery. Of course I was being a massive snob about it like the Eiffel Tower is old news or some shit.

Mostly, though, we just strolled around, explored some new areas, people-watched and dog-spotted and of course, ate bread and cheese and drank champagne. It was lovely.

Me with a glass of Taittinger on the roof of The Peninsula on Avenue Kléber. We drank champagne on a few rooftops in Paris and this was the fanciest.

Before we went to Paris, I had decided not to spend too much time fabric shopping - I have lots of lovely fabric at home - but I did end up buying two pieces from the Marché St Pierre area:

I bought a length of this wax cotton from Moline and Nic bought me this beautiful book about wax from Gibert Jeune on Blvd Barbès.

I bought this polyester shirting from Reine, and I haven't decided what to do with it yet.

We got back on Thursday night and Nic had to go to Leeds early on Friday morning for a conference, leaving me at somewhat of a loose end. As the apartment we stayed in had a washing machine, I had been able to pre-wash my fabric (also, you know, coming home from holiday with a suitcase full of clean clothes is so much better than the alternative) so I was able to get down to some sewing straightaway.

I had bought the wax cotton with a plan: I had been meaning to make another maxi-length By Hand London Anna dress for a few years - specifically one from wax cotton, because I love my Barbès-Rochechouart one so much:

I cut it out and sewed it up over the course of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. I was accompanied in my endeavour by The Staircase on Netflix. The Staircase is... just fine, by the way. I didn't love it. I guess watching all 13 episodes in less than 24 hours wasn't optimum. I'm glad I had sewing to bring me some resolution, though, because you sure don't get it in The Staircase (although, I mean, CLEARLY that dude killed his wife, yeah? Either that or the owls... but, I mean, come on.) Sewing the dress reminded me of why I had procrastinated over making another one for so long - wrestling that long-ass skirt around the ironing board and sewing machine isn't super fun. Also, even though I had been pretty careful about notching the skirt pieces, I still found some issues in putting them together. 

The finished dress was totally worth it, though:

Tournesol dress - By Hand London Anna dress

I love the finished dress a whole lot, and even though it isn't necessarily an everyday dress, I know it'll get a lot of love over the summer and over the next few years based on how much I have worn the Barbès-Rochechouart dress. Also I feel legitimately fabulous in it, which is very hard to beat.

The fabric is still a little stiff but I know that it will soften up nicely after a few washes. I bought four metres of the fabric (this was on the bolt rather than in pre-cut lengths and I think I paid like, €3pm for it) and I needed to use pretty much all of it, as wax cotton is fairly narrow. I knew I wasn't going to be able to avoid sunflower boob because of the way the print is placed, but I think I did a pretty good job of the bodice placement all the same.

All I can hope now is that we get a summer worthy of such a fabulous maxi dress. 

So I'm going to roll on now and make some dinner. See you again soon, mes amies!

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Ah hello, it's yourselves.

Yes, it has been a while... I just can't seem to get back into the swing of regular blogging at all, but life has really managed to get in the way. The last time I was seen around these parts was November and I was full of good intentions to blog more often but it didn't happen for a variety of reasons. So this evening I am going to give you a wee life update and also show you a few things I've made recently.

We've been having a fairly tough time since I last wrote: in early December, Nic's dad got a virus and was admitted to hospital and, late on a Sunday evening at the start of the month we got a call to say we should go to be by his bedside as he was unlikely to live through the night. It was, as I'm sure you can imagine, very awful. Nic's parents live 175 miles away in Kent, so we made a long, late-night train journey to get to the hospital in Ashford. It was looking very bleak but somehow he pulled through, although he declined again in the week before Christmas and we found ourselves again awaiting a bad-news phone call. He rallied again, despite having contracted pneumonia whilst in hospital and he has since been discharged. He's in a nursing home and this is the new normal - he requires around-the-clock care and it's the best place for him, but of course it is very stressful for him.

It's been as hard and sad as you can imagine, made even more difficult by the fact that we are very far away. I know that it's something that comes to everyone, but it felt especially unfair to watch Nic go through it - we are still too young to have to face losing parents, and the grief and loss of the last few years has just felt so relentless. It's an irrational way to look at it - I know things don't work that way - but it has been very hard. Nic has been very strong in the face of an incredibly difficult situation. Our friends looked after us and we looked after each other, but December was pretty fucking shitty and we're only really starting to recover from it now.

Despite everything, we tried to make the best of our break at Christmas. I finished work for the year on 16th December and we made sure to spend as much time as we could with the people we love. I did some sewing and some knitting, we watched lots of films, we had days out and a few days in Liverpool to stay in our favourite hotel and just chill out.

So that's the life update. Now for some making! Here is a dress I made aaaaaaaages ago... at the start of September, maybe? It took me ages to get around to getting photos of it as well.

All The Lonely People dress - Vogue 9075 with a pleated skirt, worn with Swedish Hasbeens t-strap sky high sandals

I bought the fabric for this dress when Nic and I visited Liverpool in August. I wasn't desperate to fabric shop, but I thought it was worth having a look in Abakhan, and that's where I bought the fabric. It came from the 'fabric by the weight' bin and I'm not sure how much I got but it cost £8. I spotted it, wandered around a bit indecisively, decided to leave, changed my mind... then Nic picked it up and said he had spotted it and thought I should buy it. He knows what I like! I will say that what I do not like is shopping in Abakhan... it was so hot and stuffy and chaotic. I don't doubt that it has great stuff in it, but shopping in there made me feel a bit sick and I was very glad to leave.

The fabric is pretty cool, though:

It really doesn't photograph well, but the print is random people...some of them crossing pedestrian crossings, some of them wearing what seem to be tracksuits? Someone said to me on instagram that they thought it was Paul Smith seconds and I can believe it, because there were lots of imperfections in the print. That said, it is such lovely quality - it's a very smooth medium weight cotton, it presses beautifully and it is so comfortable to wear. The zebra crossing in the print combined with the fact that I bought it in Liverpool made me think of The Beatles, hence the name. Eleanor Rigby is my favourite Beatles song.

I used Vogue V9075 for the bodice - I really like the high, round neck and I also love the princess seams that extend the whole way up to the shoulder seam. It's been so long since I sewed this that I can't remember what adjustments I made but I'm pretty sure I had to shorten the bodice and angle the zip in a bit at the top as the back neckline came up very high. I think I will have to toile it if I make it again, as I think a swayback adjustment is probably called for along with the shortening the bodice that I did.

I added a pleated skirt to this dress rather than the gathered skirt called for in the pattern because I didn't know how well this fabric would take to gathering, but a part of me is definitely tempted by the jumpsuit option. I mean... it's unlikely, but if I found just the right fabric, it could definitely be pretty cute! I've definitely seen some beautiful versions on sewing blogs... although, all sewn by tall beautiful stylish types... it would look quite different on me!

Wearing it with tights, boots and a busted ankle in Northern Ireland in October.

I was quite on the fence about the dress when I made it because it is very... demure? The neckline is very high, even for me! But it's really grown on me. I think it's in large part because the fabric is just SO NICE. It feels amazing to wear, and that makes a big difference. It is a little demure but the high neckline works really well with statement necklaces, and that's my jam. I like wearing navy in the autumn and winter as well, because it works well with opaque tights (even though navy tights do remind me of school) but it is so much less harsh to wear than black. Against the odds, this dress turned out to be a winner. I would consider visiting Abakhan again on a future trip to Liverpool.

Now, having bummed you all out with sad news at the top of the post and showed you something I made months ago, I'm going to try to make this post both more cheerful and more current and show you the thing I made most recently... a jumper! This yellow Andi Satterlund Chuck sweater is my first completed project of 2018 and I am pretty happy with it:

The yellow yarn is Cascade 200 superwash. After finding it very itchy in other projects, I tried washing my garments made from it with shampoo and conditioner before washing them in the washing machine on a wool setting. It totally tamed the itchiness, which made me want to knit with it again and I made this jumper. I cast it on during the Christmas holidays and finished it last week. I knit size small, but used the waist shaping for extra small. I wanted to make the neckline a little rounder than in my previous versions of the pattern, so I picked up 2/3 stitches for the ribbing rather than 1/1 and I'm really happy with it.

Bizarrely enough, a bright yellow jumper works well with a lot of my wardrobe.

Yellow Chuck sweater worn with How Can You Leave Me On My Own dress, Orla Kiely x Clarks Marianne shoes and Cambridge Poppy bag.

Can you tell that I am very over winter and very, VERY ready for it to be spring? OH GOD WHEN WILL IT BE WARM AGAIN. I wore this outfit on Sunday and it was very worth the cold legs and feet (I was wearing tights but sheer tights like, they're not for warmth, let's be real.)

Anyway, that's all from me for this evening. Thanks for hanging in there with me, guys. 2017 really took the words from me - it was such a hard year personally and globally and I had so many thoughts and feelings that articulating them felt like an insurmountable task. I'm going to try to get some of the words out in 2018.
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Hi guys! So I guess that blogging once every couple of weeks is about my level at the moment, so that's the craic there.

It's been a long and pretty tough couple of weeks, though. Work is intense, I've had another few weeks of insomnia (which is caused by and also the cause of anxiety, so that's fun) and my grandfather died. It has not been my best time, but I've been doing my best. Sometimes that's all you can really expect from yourself. It was my paternal grandfather who died and we don't have a relationship with most of that side of the family, so I wasn't losing a dearly loved grandparent. But of course that doesn't make it any easier and it has affected me in ways I wasn't expecting, I think partly because he was my last grandparent. Anyway, I'm fine - I'm getting there - but it hasn't been my most fun time.

Life has been busy and sewing has taken a bit of a back seat as a result, but I did find some time last weekend to sew. I made a Butterick B6453 dress at the end of the summer and it was fine. I made it from stretch sateen and I wanted to have another go at it to see how it would fit in a woven without any stretch content, as the pattern is a contender for a couple of dresses I want to make in the spring. I had some fun fabric in my stash that I wasn't particularly attached to, so off I went.

The fabric in question is some Doctor Who-themed fabric that I bought a few months ago in Fancy Silk Store. The print is called 'Exploding TARDIS', although mine has a misprint on the selvedge to 'Esploding TARDIS' that makes me wonder if it's a knock-off. Either way, it's a decent enough quilting-cotton type fabric, and I think I paid £8 per metre for it:

The design comes from a Matt Smith Doctor Who story called The Pandorica Opens and, in the episode, it's been painted by Vincent van Gogh, who the Doctor first met in Vincent and The Doctor. I loved that episode, despite the fact that I'm not a fan of new Doctor Who - I love Matt Smith as the Doctor, but I just don't enjoy much about the new Doctor Who episodes. 

I had cut out B6453 out in a size 10 and shortened the bodice by about an inch. I thought there was a chance I needed to go down a size but I cracked on with the 10 anyway. Error. I realised that I needed to size down and shorten the bodice by another half an inch or so. After I had constructed the dress, I removed the skirt and cut a little bit of length off the bodice and took it in by about an inch at the sides. It's not perfect now, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out:

For One As Beautiful As You dress - Butterick B6453 in Exploding Tardis fabric, worn with Red or Dead Lindy Hop shoes

It was so sunny the day we took these photos - sorry they are so bleached out! Also, PLEASE DON'T ASK ME IF I WAS COLD. I was cold, but it was literally only for the minute or so it took to get the photos. You'd like to think it's obvious that I wasn't running around in a sundress in the northern hemisphere in November, but there you go. 

That said, it's November, and this is a sundress. This is only wearable right now with the addition of something warm. Luckily, I have the perfect partner in the shape of a TARDIS-blue jumper I knit two years ago:

This is my You Were Wearing Your Blue Jumper jumper, and it's a Chuck sweater by Andi Satterlund. I really like how these look together, and even though it has short sleeves the jumper is lovely and warm. Happiness!

The other changes I made to this pattern were to widen the straps and fix them, and to use a concealed zip rather than a lapped one - I just like them better.

I have to shorten the straps quite a lot for them not to fall off my shoulders, but I think it still looks okay. I really like the shape of the neckline and I think if I can get the fit nailed this pattern will be right for some lovely fabrics I have lined up for the spring. I know it's some way off, but thinking of warmer weather is one of the things that helps me through the cold winter months.

I bought some yellow clog ankle boots and they arrived the day I wore this dress, so when I went out to the pub that afternoon to meet my lovely friend, I put them straight on:

TOILET SELFIE. But in fairness, this is an excellent selfie mirror.

The boots - which are Swedish Hasbeens 'Jodhpur' boots - are arguably on that line where ugly meets awesome, but that is something I do like. I think they look pretty great with this dress, anyway!

I wore this dress on Friday to belatedly honour the anniversary of Doctor Who, which was first broadcast on 23rd November 1963. You should check out a few other awesome Doctor Who-themed dresses that have popped up recently - Lynne made an excellent Anna dress from this same fabric a few weeks ago, Annie blogged another wonderful TARDIS dress earlier this week, and let's not forget the marvellous Ernie K Designs with her Dalek onesie and Dalek dress. Having said that I'm not a fan of new Doctor Who, it did introduce me to my favourite Dalek, Tea Tray Dalek, so it has that in its favour:


This Dalek is so British he is carrying tea whilst wearing a Union Jack. Aggressive colonialism and tea-drinking: there's really not too much to separate the Daleks and the Brits when you think about it.

Anyway, that's the craic with me. But if you're wondering, if I had to choose who my favourite Doctor was, it'd be Jon Pertwee.

He's arguably the most mansplainy of the Doctors. I mean... Jo takes it in good part, but still. Sarah-Jane finds him so mansplainy that Tom Baker seems like an improvement. BUT, nobody else has as good a face or has as much fun with the monsters:


The dude loves to dress up. His clothes are fancy as fuck (actual CAPES) but I'm referring to his penchant for disguises, which are accompanied by voices:

Cleaning lady. NICE.

Milkman. NICE.

So, yeah. Third Doctor all the way.

So anyway my dinner is nearly ready so I'm off here for my own adventure in time (dinner time) and space. See you soon, friends!
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Hello boys and girls! Again, it has been a while, but that's just the craic there. Life has been busy recently, as it often is - but here are some highlights since I wrote last time:

Belfast International Airport sees your concerns about stereotyping and waves some anthropomorphised potatoes in your face.

Nic and I had a few days in Northern Ireland last month, which was lovely. It was a fairly last-minute decision to go home, and it was a lot of fun. We caught up with all the nephews, spent time hanging out with my parents and even managed to fit in meeting up with my best friend and her new baby. It was a lot to pack in to four days.

I'm still getting Mini hairs out of my clothes. It's totally worth it for the cuddles, though!

My ankle was still pretty bad when we went home, although over the course of the weekend the limping eased off. I haven't managed to get back into the running as it's still not quite right, but I am going to go for gait analysis as soon as possible to see if I need new running shoes. Now that the weather has turned properly cold, I'm looking forward to getting back into running - the one thing I disliked about it before was running when it was clammy and warm. 

Thankfully the positive impact it had on my mental health seems to have persisted and the feelings of hopelessness that plagued me over the summer haven't returned. I've made efforts to look after myself and one of them has been to disconnect myself from the internet after about 8:30 most evenings. I've been suffering from intermittent insomnia for most of the year and I thought that having a complete digital detox a few hours before bed would be good for me. It has been, especially as the news has been so bleak. I found myself very affected by the Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey stories, so not giving them space in my head before trying to sleep has been a good thing.

I haven't had tons of time for sewing recently, but that's okay. I don't exactly have a shortage of clothes. My most recent make was a Deer and Doe Bleuet dress which... well, let's just call it a wearable toile:

No Fond Return of Love dress - Deer and Doe Bleuet dress in Julius Holland wax cotton

I over-estimated what size I would need for this dress and ended up cutting it a size too large. It is princess-seamed front and back, so in theory easy enough to adjust, but it still ended up being a bit too big overall. This photo isn't too bad but in real life it sort of makes me look like I'm wearing some sort of old lady housecoat. It sort of makes me feel like a jazzy Mrs Doyle.

Maybe I'll make another one. I need to try a smaller size and to move the waist up a little. It'll probably wait until spring now, though. Ah well. Luckily I still have loads of that amazing fabric left so I can make myself something a bit more successful.

A more successful recent project was another Emery dress. Last autumn I made a few Emery dresses from barkcloth and I ended up wearing them all throughout the winter because they are so warm and cosy and cute. I had been lurking the Outback Wife barkcloth collection during the summer but was hesitant to buy it - most places that stocked it in the UK were selling it for like, £28 a metre, which just seemed a bit steep to me. However, Maud's Fabric Finds were doing a clearance sale last month and I managed to pick up two metres of Outback Wife barkcloth for £14 a metre. BA BOOM.

I bought two metres of the 'Elaine' print in green. I had thought I wanted the blue, but when the green arrived I loved the colour so much that I was delighted not to have got the blue instead. The fabric really is beautiful quality - it's soft and with some drape, and it doesn't have an especially loose weave either. As I bought it with an Emery dress in mind, I had no hesitation in cutting into it once I had washed and ironed the fabric.

So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress with a pleated skirt in Outback Wife fabric, worn with Orla Kiely x Clarks Marianne shoes

Although I think the fabric would take to gathering pretty easily - lots of Gertrude Made's dresses on her instagram have gathered skirts - I thought it would feel a little bulky at my waist, so I box pleated the skirt instead. I love a box-pleated skirt and I am frequently asked to do a tutorial on how to pleat a skirt. Lads, that isn't going to happen. It's literally folding the fabric to fit whatever width you need. EVEN I CAN DO IT, that's how remedial it is. But anyway there are plenty of other sewing bloggers to tell you how you should be sewing. I am not one of them.

Remedial sewing face

I really enjoyed sewing this dress. Due to time constraints, I had to spread the sewing out over a couple of days and it was really enjoyable. That's one of the joys of a pattern you know and love, of course. It will be a great dress to wear as the weather grows colder, and it will look great with a variety of boots. In an effort to not hate the cold weather so much, I have added to my collection of boots quite considerably. It's not at clog levels...yet:

The dress had its first outing when we went to Birmingham to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with some friends. I wore it with these White Stuff 'Paula' boots, which I like so much that I ended up buying them in navy as well. Hurrah!

And speaking of trying to come to terms with the advance of winter by shopping... I have a new coat and I loooooove it:

THOSE SCALLOPS THOUGH. Unfortunately, due to to fact that it was dark when the photo was taken you can't see what a lovely shade of blue it is. It's from the Savida range at Dunnes, and it's also available in pink. That's not an affiliate link or anything, I just wanted to share the coat joy. Obviously the pink one is on its way to me. I'm mainly surprised to have found something I wanted to buy in Dunnes, which is the number one place to go in Ireland if you want to buy gigantic granny knickers.

ACTUALLY LITERALLY FILMED IN DUNNES (in Ennis) I wouldn't lie to you about giant pants!

So that's the craic with me anyway. I'll try not to leave it so long next time, but now I need to try to find my way out of this feckin department store. Bye!
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Hello everyone! I hope that the early days of autumn (or spring, for those of you in the other hemisphere) are treating you well.

I'm not too bad, myself. It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago. It fell on a Monday, which meant I was able to spend the whole weekend prior to the day celebrating. If you can't stretch your birthday out for a few days, what even is the point of adulthood?! I had dinner and drinks with my friends in Leamington on the Friday night (champagne, followed by Nando's because I'm classy, followed by a thorough spoiling in The Drawing Board) and on the Saturday morning we flew to France for a long weekend. This was Nic's birthday present to me and it was wonderful!

Me, Samantha Jones (from Lou Taylor) and pre-dinner Perrier-Jouet.

We went to Perpignan, which is in the south-west of France, on the border with Spain. Literally our only reason for choosing this destination was the fact that we could get there quickly and cheaply from Birmingham. The fact that we were able to enjoy some Mediterranean sunshine was a very happy addition to our plans - we had considered Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Naples, but everything lined up most easily with Perpignan. Of course, it was all good until the week before, when R**nair started cancelling flights left, right and centre but luckily our flights weren't affected. It would have taken the shine off the holiday a little, wouldn't it?!

As such, we went to Perpignan with no real expectations and we were rewarded with warm weather and a very pleasant location for a short holiday. We were only there for a short time and it was off-season, so the city was unusually sleepy. This suited us fine, but it did mean that we had to plan our meals a little bit more carefully than we usually would on holiday. We stayed in Hotel de la Loge in the old town, which was quirky and charming. It lacked the polish of a chain hotel but it was clean, spacious, quiet and comfortable. I would definitely stay there again. We only had two full days, arriving on a Saturday afternoon and leaving on the Tuesday evening, so our plan was to spend Sunday exploring Perpignan and then spend the Monday (my birthday) by the sea in nearby Collioure.

Perpignan old town is a charming warren of narrow cobbled streets. We picked up a picnic In Monoprix and headed to the citadel at the south of the city - the Palais des Rois de Majorque. We had wandered past it the evening before but had no idea of the grandeur inside - you can't tell from the street at all! It was free to get in on a Sunday, but the modest cost of 4 euro would have been more than worth it for the spectacular views over the region.

The view from our picnic lunch. I had been so starved of sunshine that the palm trees never stopped being a novelty!

Can you see the Pyrenees in the background?

If you can see past my giant head, the view from the top of the citadel's tower was amazing.

In fact the views were amazing in every part of the palace. So much so that Nic disregarded these severe warnings:

After spending a happy few hours there, we headed back into the city and enjoyed a few glasses of Pays d'Oc rose at Henri et Cie, a literal hole-in-the-wall on rue Rene Paratilla. Henri gave us a warm welcome, introduced us to his other customers (also English, one of them from Banbury) and showed us the new bike he had bought the evening before. He was an utter charmer and I would recommend a stop there to anyone.

Rue Rene Paratilla - this is the view from Henri et Cie

rose in the sunshine: happiness

The next morning we took the Bus a 1 euro to Collioure, a fishing village on the coast about forty minutes from Perpignan. I'm actually a little lacking in words to describe how magical the day we spent there was. The village is stunning. It is nestled between the mountains and the sea and we couldn't go more than a few hundred yards at a time without stopping to take photos of something.
The view that greeted us when we got off the bus.
I wore my Honoria dress, Saltwater sandals and another Lou Taylor necklace. This was an extremely happy moment.

I had a paddle in the sea almost as soon as we got off the bus. Feeling the warm sun on my skin and splashing around in the beautiful blue of the Mediterranean was the best birthday gift anyone has ever given me. Nic was able to indulge some of his Cary Grant in To Catch A Thief fantasies too, so we were both very happy! He suggested that we have lunch at Le Neptune, where we sat on the terrace and enjoyed a delicious five-course meal paired with local wine.
We took so many photos, I can't even. It was the most ridiculously beautiful place.
I MEAN. This clock tower is apparently one of the most painted locations in France. It's easy to see why. Collioure was the birthplace of Fauvism. You can imagine Matisse running about the place.

As we sat on another terrace overlooking the beach a little later, a rainstorm blew in and we ended up getting completely soaked making our way back to the bus stop. Even the rain had its charm, though, giving us a beautiful double rainbow to admire as we waited for the bus back to Perpignan. I would go back to Collioure in a heartbeat. It was wonderful.

Would it surprise you to learn that more rose was consumed here?!

It was a perfect holiday and I came back feeling utterly refreshed.
Getting the most out of my summer wardrobe...

I had done a little bit of sewing before we went, making a Butterick B6453 from some Nanette Lepore sateen that I bought from Metro Textiles when we were in New York last year. I shortened the bodice by about an inch and sewed fixed straps rather than adjustable ones. I wanted to be able to widen the straps enough to be able to wear a normal bra because I hate strapless ones! I lined the bodice rather than use facings, and I used a concealed zip rather than a lapped one, as this is my preference.

No No, Nanette dress - Butterick B6453 in cotton sateen, worn with Swedish Hasbeens Lacy sandals.

I'm not wild about the finished dress, although I did enjoy wearing it. I need to tinker with the fit a little more (I should shorten the bodice a tiny bit more, I think) but the pattern has a lot of potential. I can see why it has been so popular! I have some amazing Michael Miller fabric on its way to me from the states for spring sewing, and this could be just the pattern.

I also bought some clothes in France - two knit Breton dresses from Monoprix. I'm not sure what came over me! They're both very different from my usual style.

I wore one of them out to dinner on the night of my birthday and felt pretty cute in it. Nic loved it! I've worn it and the other a few times since I got home. I am unlikely to start sewing knit dresses (although I have been looking at Tilly's Coco pattern with new eyes, not going to lie). I know there is a lot of talk in sewing blogging about 'secret pyjamas' but the appeal is slightly lost on me - I want my clothes to be comfortable (and they are!) but I don't need them to feel like pyjamas. In fact, wearing the ponte dress felt a little indecent... I felt exposed and underdressed. Still, it's nice to experiment and I do like the stripes.
This is the other one. I do like this one a little bit better, I think.

Maybe I am having a midlife crisis. Nic and I took up running last month because I decided I wanted to build more regular exercise into my routine as a way of managing anxiety. We started doing Couch to 5k, which I was finding really enjoyable but slow going. Whilst I am very active, I have never been a runner, so building up my stamina will take a while.

Unfortunately, I injured myself last week and have had to take a break - I hurt my Achilles' tendon so have had to stop running while it heals. I've spent a lot of the past week with my ankle elevated, which has been sort of a bummer. I'm going to go for gait analysis when I've healed as I am keen to get back out there in properly fitted shoes. Against all of my previous expectations, I enjoyed the running even when I was finding it difficult. I was very disappointed to have to take a break from it, but I am pleased to find that I'm disappointed - it means I know that I was enjoying it! In the couple of weeks I had completed before hurting myself, I felt a really positive impact on my mental health.

Well, that has been more of a life update than a sewing one, AND you had to look at my holiday photos. Soz. I will have some sewing for you soon, though! Until then, au revoir mes amies!
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Hello! What's happening, lads? It's all good here with me: the sun is shining, work is done for the day and the dinner is cooking away (I am making minestrone soup) for later. I have a few days of work and then we're on holiday - it is good! So, that's nice. It is good to be feeling good again.

So, yeah. Last time I wrote we were just about to go and see the new film adaptation of It. I wasn't expecting to love it, because I love the book and the miniseries a lot. I wasn't expecting to be bored basically shitless by it, though, and I was. I know it had a lot to live up to, in fairness, but I think it's a real failure if every time the clown showed up I wasn't scared, I was sighing like "uuugh not this tedious fucker again." Also I had genuine issues with the way in which the adaptation really sidelined the minority characters - the black character, the female character and the jewish character - by taking key plot points away from them and giving them to the white male stars. That felt very deliberate, especially given the fact that Mike Hanlon, the film's one black character, had at most ten lines of dialogue in two and a half hours. The film's director has said that for the sequel, in which the characters are all adults, Mike will be a junkie... which he isn't in the book, so why make that decision? And why Mike? So yeah. It was boring racist bullshit. NO THANKS.

Here's Tim Curry instead - an actual scary clown. I'll be watching the miniseries again soon to take away the disappointment and anger of the shitty movie!

Yeah - here's Frank N Furter instead, because you all yell at me when I put pictures of clowns on here.

It was still nice to go to the cinema, even though the film was shit. We went to Birmingham so we could see the film in the Everyman - like there is a cinema literally around the corner from me, but it's a Vue and it's so terrible I'll get on a train to a different town to see a film. The Everyman is great, not least of all because it's in the same complex as Harvey Nichols and I like to get a glass of champagne in the bar there before seeing the film:
So that's the craic there. I had a really good weekend in which I did some drinking, some socialising and some sewing. I don't have photos yet of the dress I made (hopefully I'll get some when we're on holiday) so instead here is a dress I made a couple of months ago:

 Numberwang dress - By Hand London Anna dress with a box-pleated skirt, worn with Swedish Hasbeens heart sandals

So, I think I made this dress in June? I bought the banana fabric from Meg at Pigeon Wishes, who has an etsy shop, and I was 100% inspired by a dress from Sixton London that I had been admiring all summer:
Sixton London Arizona dress - it's still available from Lilac Rose (that's not an affiliate link)

Now, I should say that I actually own a couple of Sixton dresses and I love them - they're really well-made with classic cuts and beautiful fabrics. However, when I had the option to make my own, of course that's what I wanted to do. You can see the similarities, right? The fabric is very similar, obviously. The inspiration dress has the same grown-on sleeves as the Anna bodice, but it has a wide waistband and pockets set into the front of the pleated skirt. I tend to avoid dresses with waistbands or midriff bands because they annoy me, so I thought the best option was to use the Anna bodice and add a pleated skirt:

The finished dress is pretty cute and I've worn it loads. It's going to be packed away for the autumn soon, but I think before I do, I'm going to go back and take the skirt up to just below the knee, as with the inspiration dress. I think the high neck and midi-length skirt combination is a little bit too much on me and I'd wear it more if it were a little shorter.

Still, though. BANANAS. 

And yes, it *is* in fact named after Numberwang:


I liked the pattern combination so much that I made another, also in June, in some lovely Liberty lawn that I bought in Shaukat:

Cloudbusting dress and Swedish Hasbeens peep-toe sandals

I think the skirt length works better on that one, so maybe that's the direction I'll take the bananas dress in too.

I took these photos earlier in the summer, but for various reasons I found blogging very hard during that time. As I've discussed, I had a difficult summer in terms of anxiety although I have been feeling an improvement more recently.

Nic and I went out for dinner and drinks on Friday night and the conversation turned to my mental health and the reasons why I've been doing a bit better over the last few weeks than I had been over the summer. A large factor in the improvement (reduction) in my anxiety levels has been talking more about my feelings - specifically, acknowledging difficult feelings when they come up rather than trying to squash them down and crush them in my mind vice, you know? I'm also working hard on not feeling ashamed of having feelings. I realised that I'm still working through the shame and anger and hurt from a difficult time in my life a number of years ago, and that I still sometimes feel that I don't deserve to be loved or cared for because this is how I was made to feel at the time. For a long time it stopped me from reaching out to the people I love for help, which was self-destructive. Anyway, I'm writing this because I find it helpful to articulate this stuff, and I know that some of you guys are going through similar things, so it might be helpful to you too. 

Now, I am going to go and do some hemming. Catch you later!
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Hello lads and ladies! Happy Friday - I hope this week has been treating you well. I have had a very full week at work, which has actually been really enjoyable. The period between September and January is a crucial one in my line of work, and after a difficult summer it feels good to put my shoulder to the wheel once again. While I wouldn't describe myself as a workaholic, I do feel much better about myself when I feel I am being productive at work, and that is how I have been feeling this week.

This week we booked a minibreak (I always feel like Bridget Jones when I use the word minibreak, which is pleasing) to Perpignan. We're going to be there for a long weekend over my birthday and I am very excited. I'm a little nervous that my schoolgirl French won't cut it outside of multicultural Paris, but I'm sure I can make myself understood all the same. As the weather here has been ridiculously shitty (stormy, rainy but still somehow disgustingly sweaty) I'm looking forward to a little bit of Mediterranean sun, and I'm enjoying telling people I'm off to the South of France, even though Perpignan is decidedly NOT the Cote d'Azur. I'm going to try to fit in making a birthday dress between now and then - I have plans for a B6453 in some cotton sateen that I bought last year in New York. Fingers crossed I have time to give it a bash this weekend!

This afternoon I'm going to show you a dress I made in the heady days of the summer. Well, by 'summer' I mean 'slightly better than whatever the fuck this shit is', yeah? It's another Butterick B6446, which I made because I love my lemon-print one so much.

The fabric is some cotton sateen. I had spotted it first in Edinburgh Fabrics when we were there in July, but for some reason I didn't buy it - it was warm in the shop and I was tired AND hungry, so finding it difficult to make decisions - but once I saw the beautiful B5748 that Abi made from it, I knew I had chosen unwisely. I ended up finding some on ebay and that was a happy end to the story.

I actually already have a dress in blue rose print. Of course I do: this is me, after all. It's my Lucy dress made from Liberty Carline fabric.

I love the shit out of that dress, and I wore it loads in the spring and summer. This cotton sateen is a bit weightier so I think I can wear it as the weather gets a bit colder, so it's all good.

Lady Don't Fall Backwards dress - Butterick B6446 worn with Swedish Hasbeens Merci sandals

I didn't make any extra adjustments to the pattern following the success of the Good God, Lemon dress, so this baby came together really easily.

The whole thing was very nearly ruined by some bullshit, though. The first time I wore it was out for drinks and dinner with Nic on a rainy evening and although the dress looked amazing with my lovely V&A umbrella, I got screamed at in the street by a man after two other men pushed me into him. Even after I apologised (which, for some depressing reason of social conditioning, I guess - I apologised even though I had been shoved by two strange men into another strange man) he continued to scream and swear at me. It was horrible! You know the way that an experience like that can ruin a place or a garment? Thankfully that didn't happen - the dress is far too cute to take the blame for the fact that men are trash, and so I made sure to wear it again and make happy memories in it instead.

This is the face of someone who hates men.

Seriously though, men can get to fuck.

On the night in question. It's a shame, too, because I was feeling so cute with my Vivienne Westwood shoes as well. Don't worry too much, though - after I had a little cry about it in the pub toilets I had a couple of gins and went for a delicious dinner.

I've made lots of blue dresses this year - Rhiannon may have to give over her 'more blue fabric' tagline to me if she's not careful - and I really like accessorising this dress with pink. In these photos I'm wearing it with some pink sandals I bought from the Swedish Hasbeens sale. They may be very similar to another pair of pink Swedish Hasbeens that are sitting on my shoe shelves but, importantly, they are NOT THE SAME and so I am able to sleep at night. I am trying to make myself sew other colours but for some reason I have been drawn to making and wearing blue clothes. Eh, I don't know. It gives me an excuse to wear my many pairs of pink clogs, I suppose.

And that's the craic with me. I have a nice relaxing weekend planned. Having finished my re-read of It last weekend (I think this is maybe the fifth time I've read it since I was a teenager) I'm about ready to go and watch the new film, so we're off to do that (and no doubt a spot of fabric shopping) in Birmingham tomorrow. I'm sure I'll like it, but as for many people of my age, I don't think it's going to come close to how iconic the 90s miniseries was. Like, you know. Where's John-Boy Walton? Where's John Ritter? Where's the Ralph the Santa guy from Cagney & Lacey? WHERE'S RAY FROM SISTER SISTER?! I'm telling you it's iconic.


And I flat out do not believe any actor can come close to how terrifying Tim Curry is as Pennywise. But, you know, I'm sure it will still be kind of fun. Have a great weekend, everyone!

clown realness

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Hello there! It's been a while, I know, but the blogger part of me hasn't died completely!

Anyway, I haven't been up to much since I last blogged. I've been working and sewing as usual. Nic and I had a trip to Liverpool a few weeks ago, which thankfully coincided with a few sunny days in a sea of grey and rainy ones. We had a great time: Liverpool is an amazing city. We weren't there for any particular reason, but it was perfect for a little change of scenery.

We stayed at the Pullman, and really enjoyed being based by the docks as there is so much to see and do down there. We even spent a happy hour on our last morning watching jellyfish in the marina - it was the first time Nic had ever seen jellyfish, and you could so easily miss them.

When we're on holiday, I like to go on a ferry if one is available. Luckily, Liverpool has a ferry. It's not very widely-known, so maybe someone should consider writing a song about it.

Waiting to board the ferry, dressed like a sailor

We visited some friends in Chester, went to Port Sunlight, went to a few museums, drank champagne in a Titanic-themed bar, visited the Metropolitan cathedral, ate pizza slices on Bold Street (repeatedly) and played some late-night indoor mini-golf:

I won, but Nic was a few pints ahead of me at each stage, so I had a slight advantage there.

It was a lovely week off, and we ended it with a flying visit from my dad. He was over for a few days for work and on the Friday we went to the Cotswolds for a few hours. We visited Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water. The villages are charming, but Nic and I have been watching Children of the Stones, so it all felt a bit creepy to me. My dad thoroughly enjoyed himself, though.

Me and Daddy in Bourton. It's very plain to see we're related as we are BASICALLY IDENTICAL.

These have been some bright spots in what has otherwise been a very difficult few months. I've written before about my mental health, so I won't labour the point, but this summer I've experienced intense anxiety, which has often been debilitating. It has taken all of my energy to keep doing the things I need to do - things like getting out of bed and eating and working - and it's been very difficult. I have felt very tired of living. There have been some external stressors and some of it arises from the fact that I'm generally quite an anxious person anyway so this is something I'll always need to deal with in one way or another.

Helping someone close to me through a problem that they were having made me realise that I needed to allow people to help me, and that it was okay to do that. So that's what I've been doing and I've been looking into finding some professional help too. Something has started to shift and I feel more hopeful and positive than I have for a while. I have a lovely life and I want to be here, and I wanted to share this with you all because I know lots of you care about me. Thank you for caring.

That's the update there. I've been sewing off and on, and over the unexpectedly sunny bank holiday weekend, Nic took some photos of a recently completed dress. The craic with this is that Sarah sent up the bat-signal to let me know that Textile Express were selling a fabric I'd been after for about three years:

I had seen a Ralph Lauren skirt made from this beautiful linen three years ago in TK Maxx and the fabric had been a bit of a unicorn since then, but here was Textile Express selling it for £6.50 a metre! I immediately bought three metres, which was just as well because they sold out within a few hours. Although summer is by now officially over, I had some hopes for a September Indian summer, so I decided to go ahead and sew it anyway. I was immediately rewarded with a beautiful, hot bank holiday weekend: winner!

The print is quite large, so I wanted a simple shape to show it off. For me, this means sewing an Emery dress and that is what I did.

Honoria dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress with a pleated skirt, worn with Swedish Hasbeens Suzanne sandals

I wasn't sure whether to centre the big beach umbrella on the bodice. It seemed like the obvious thing initially, but when it came to cutting I didn't want to sacrifice the surfers, so I made sure to get them both on the bodice. The fabric doesn't have a great deal of drape to it, so I used a box-pleated skirt rather than a gathered one. I love wearing pleated skirts and I am really thrilled with how this dress turned out.

I decided against wearing this with my Lou Taylor swimmers necklace this time, but I think they would be the perfect match!

This fabric really was an incredible find, especially for £6.50 per metre. The colour is beautiful and it's of such lovely quality. I got so many compliments on the dress all day, and I felt great in it too. I've heard that it can still be found in some branches of Abakhan (although I didn't see any when I was in the Liverpool branch a few weeks ago) so you might get lucky if you're still looking for it. I'll hopefully be able to wear the dress a few more times before packing it away for next spring, but often it's nice to make a summer dress at the end of summer - something to look forward to for next year.

Here's one for the folks at GOMI who think it's obnoxious when I smile in photos. I must remember to try harder not to look too happy with my life.

I haven't yet made plans for autumnal sewing, but I think I'm going to make a conscious effort to move away from my the blue colour palette I've unintentionally adopted this year. I bought some very Mildred Hubble-esque Paradigma boots in a local shoe shop that was closing down, so I'm thinking about what to sew to wear with them:

I don't have a coherent autumn-winter plan, though, as I am also semi-seriously considering buying a ridiculous hot pink Ted Baker coat. I don't need any more coats, but it is amazing. It won't work with these boots, but I'm sure I could still make it work with something in my wardrobe...

The sun is shining now though, so right now I'm going to enjoy the rest of the summer as much as I can, which means going to a pub garden with some friends. Have a good weekend, everyone!
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