Another summer sewing project, this dress was made in a hurry but is still my favourite dress of the season.
From the front
The fabric was a serendipitous find from Walthamstow market at only a pound a meter. I have a sneaking suspicion it may have been a home dec cloth but this dress would not be defeated by such definitions. It has a thick slub like weft thread and a shiny warp and seems slightly mustard and green-gold depending on the light. These photos were taken in the sunny kitchen so they look more yellow.
The back – ignore the black zip – I was in hurry
The pattern is Colette’s Lily, one I overlooked in favour of the clever Hazel when the spring patterns were released. In hindsight, what a silly mistake. This pattern is fantastic, hugging all the right places and with pocket construction reminiscent of the Rooibos to top it off.
I made it in a rush for a work team dinner but I’m determined to find more excuses to wear it now!
In a bout of familial duty, I volunteered today to go on a road trip with my parents. The objective: Empty and clean the small caravan my parents have stored in Petworth, a couple of hours south of London. To understand what a sacrifice this is, you must have watched the film Little Miss Sunshine* (or as I like to call it – every family vacation we’ve ever taken). Luckily no disasters yet but plenty of bickering and back-seat driving (usually Dad’s behind the wheel). At least, these days I am in possession of an iPad and can escape for a few minutes to share one of my summer sewing projects – an easy to wear double-knit pencil skirt.
This is a post I’ve tried to write many times but it never quite feels right. Change is a constant as we all know, but some of us take longer to settle into it than others. I needed to press pause on blogging for a while to have the space to do so. The not-so-new now job is moving a long and requires both mental and physical energy with a team of 24 staff looking to me for answers and direction and my desperation not to let anyone down saw me committing to too much and feeling overwhelmed. So for everyone who has emailed, twittered and messaged me thank you for your thoughts and I’m so sorry I didn’t have my s#!t together enough to respond.
So why am I finally hitting publish now, im-perfect as it feels? It’s the oldest cliche in the book – life is just too short for perfectionism. Recently, my 60-year-old vegan, bike-riding, physical-labouring, healthy as an ox father had a blood-clot which travelled to his brain causing a stroke and throwing our small family into upheaval. When I got the call I was at work – busy and stressed as usual – but it all fell away and priorities re-aligned in seconds. He was rushed into surgery at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgerywhere they unsuccessfully tried to break up the clot before entering the High Dependency Unit. My sister in Melbourne flew back to London. Dad is okay, now.
He’s been home now for a couple of weeks and whilst we had another scare* on Monday which resulted in a night back at UCL he is on the mend. We got lucky – he can talk fine, he can walk, he’s alive. We got lucky.
Other people don’t, in the relatives room of the HDU, there were so many conversations and stories of those who had been there for many months and you wonder how and you wonder why.
Dad is a musical person, so his biggest frustration is the weakness on his left side making it hard for him to play guitar and the remaining confusion in the affected part of his brain makes listening to music frustrating. It just reminds you that your ability to indulge in your passion can all go so quickly. So, sometimes, I sew…
*Everyone should know the F.A.S.T. Test for stroke, please share it.
Why, yes! I did add floral wallpaper (thanks puglypixel) to these photos to make up for the meh way I feel about this pattern.
I had high hopes for Vogue 1025 but it’s just a bit too low cut and the arm holes are a bit too low and the fit is a bit weird. All these things combined mean it’s an almost but not quite kind of garment.
Continuing on my quest for work-wear that feels like PJs, I finally jumped on the Vogue 1250 bandwagon and like a broken record I can add my cry to the masses – “what took me so long?!”.
Made from a soft golden light-weight double-knit found on Goldhawk Road, I started cutting the pattern at 6:30pm last night and was done by 10:00pm. It’s such a dream to go together.
The only tricky bit was figuring out the full bust adjustment, as there is really only 2 pieces to this pattern – the upper back, and the rest. I took flat measurements and added a couple of inches to the skirt at the centre back. I knew I’d need more room at the bust but I didn’t want to add any at the waist so rather than a normal FBA, I winged it. (Sorry if it doesn’t make sense – the pictures didn’t come out as clear as I’d hoped.)
The net result is a much deeper tuck at the shoulder giving more room at the bust. I had my fingers crossed the whole way but I like how it turned out.
The pattern is the Swing-Top from the kick-ass Dixie-DIY. Although this early version has been discontinued Dixie has just released her new Concert-tee pattern which I have earmarked as soon as I find the perfect wide-striped knit.
The other super find on Dixie’s site is the Never Fear Knits series she made last year – a seriously comprehensive guide to sewing with knit fabric. Using all the tips this top came together in less than two hours after printing the pattern and would be perfect as a first foray into sewing jersey. I used a zigzag stitch for all the seams and left it un-hemmed.
To say this is comfortable is an understatement – it is ridiculous and now I want to make a million of them.
There has been many a meaningful discussion of late around what we sew and why. Sewaholic’s take on frosting vs. cake and Colette Patterns’ practical wardrobe posts both put into words the thoughts I’d had about Wardrobe Planning the second time around.
For the fall Palette challenge I’d gotten excited and begun collecting images that evoked the mood of melancholy chill in the air (I’d just been to the Dianne Arbus exhibition at the Tate Modern and may have been melodramatic).
Then I found images of clothing I’d like to make and own – on the surface, a dream wardrobe.
Vintage inspired clothes that made me drool – the only problem was that when I really tried to imagine myself wearing these clothes, I couldn’t. Circle skirts that feel costumey, high waisted sweaters that choke and give uni-boob, pencil skirts that cut mid cankle and hobble anyone daring to walk more than two feet – I did not want to wear these clothes.
The reality was that on a scale between comfort and figure flattery my own balancing point falls more on the comfort side than the other.
So with the stars aligning the Spring/Summer Palette Challenge and Me-Made-May I’ve decided to bring a little more reality to the table.
Like Caitlin from the Coletterie, I’m quite a homebody and when I broke down my time into a simple pie-graph it was clear that to make it through MMM I need to plug the lounge-wear shaped hole in my wardrobe.
The next gap is with the work wardrobe. I began the new job last week (thanks for all the good wishes – I’m loving it so far!) and for the first two weeks I don’t need to worry about it but after that management training starts. I’m looking for a compromise between smart/professional but still comfortable enough to move around in. I think double-knit dresses may be my saviour.
And finally a little frosting for sight-seeing with shirt-dresses, trouser-jeans and pretty prints.
So rather than a concrete plan, this time around I have a palette of colours and a general idea of where the gaps are which seems as good a starting point as any!
Thanks for all the lovely comments on the pjs – it feels good to actually finish something after such a long sewer’s block!
This is actually the second time I’ve made this combo – the first was for little sis’s christmas present. She was heading off to backpack through India and Bali for a couple of months so I didn’t want to get her anything too bulky and this ticked the box and a couple more:
Natural fibres – to keep cool in the drive-me-nuts-heat
Super light weight – it’s like wearing a feather (good for tight baggage allowance too)
Adaptable – the top made from Colette’s Sorbetto pattern can double as a blouse during the day