Monday 27 September 2021

autumn sewing: a Fumeterre (ish) maxi skirt

 Check me out, getting on with my plan.

I knew this skirt was going to be one of the first projects I made, mostly because I already had the fabric and pattern in mind and thus wouldn't have to do any more thinking, but also partly because I actively need it. This is proving to be a very stupid September that is neither summer nor autumn, and I've been sorely lacking transition pieces. Also I've been trying to get maxi skirts into my wardrobe for years and never really succeeded, so it was long past time to try again. 

(I am once again asking you to please excuse the wildly inconsistent lighting in my photos.)

I made the Deer&Doe Fumeterre skirt three times last year, and you've seen two of them. For these two I made the pattern up as it was, and it's turned out to be... not really what I want out of my skirts. I love the shape of it, but I've not been keen at all on the front fly or elasticated back, both of which seem to actively work against the way my body moves. I then made a third. I was still doing the Minerva thing at the time and this was a project for them, but it looks like this:

For this one I cut the fly extension pieces off the pattern and turned it into a zipped back with a faced waistline. I normally can't stand facings, but I couldn't work out how to cut a waistband so that the diagonal stripes looked aesthetically pleasing. I also ditched the patch pockets, which I've found to be not terribly useful, and replaced them with the S8380 pockets I keep banging on about. I cut one pocket piece out of the wool and one out of lining fabric, which works very nicely. This is unquestionably the version I've got the most wear out of, but it's limited by two things: one, the fabric is a fairly hefty wool and so only nice to wear when it's very cold, and two, I was incredibly stressed at the time and didn't think through my alterations. I didn't compensate for there not being elastic in the back and consequently it's a little too big. Not unwearably so, but noticeable. I wanted another version, without these problems.

For Fumeterre Version 4 (which, by the way, I am delighted with and will be making multiple times more) I kept the back zip and change of pockets from version three, but reinstated the waistband. I could more or less use the original pattern pieces, with the back waistband piece now used as the front. I shaved off a couple of centimetres from the back seam and the now back waistband pieces to compensate for the removal of the elastic and it fits beautifully. I put a press stud closure in the back waistband. All four versions have the hem facing, which I still love. 

I ended up not putting a lining in this one (still a little gun shy from version two, where the lining arguably fucked it up) and I have yet to determine whether I'll regret it. I was hoping to have done some test runs by now, but instead I have been isolating because Patrick has raging Covid. There was a "reconnection event" at his company last Thursday that turned out to be extremely poorly ventilated and someone showed up with the rona, so now half the office is out sick. He's been really ill with it all week and it's horrible. He's never had a virus worse than this in his life. Miraculously I seem to have not caught it, despite living in a very small house with him and having an immune system that's basically one old man with a blunt stick. I do have an intermittent cough, but the tests aren't showing anything, so a round of applause to AstraZeneca, I guess. He's still not well and won't be going anywhere for a while, but technically his isolation period ends tomorrow so I can leave the house again. 

All of which is to say, I don't know how the skirt works with tights and anti-chafe shorts yet. If it turns out to be unworkable I might try to make a skirt slip. It's not something I've really considered before but if I'm going to make several other maxi skirts anyway I should get a decent amount of use out of it. 

This was a pretty simple project, but for some reason it made me feel really accomplished. I'm really pleased with the modifications, the fit, and the finishing. I'm especially pleased with the way the waistband turned out; it's something I often have trouble with, but this one lined up nicely and pressed into placed with minimal faffing. I think this skirt is going to serve me really well as a transitional piece, and I got excited enough after finishing it to cut out another version immediately thereafter. 

I've had a fair amount of time for cutting and sewing this past week since Patrick hasn't been using the workspace we share. I finished the pyjamas but I don't like them - I will probably wear them around the house anyway but there's something about the fabric that's kind of uniquely unflattering when it's on my body and I couldn't get any decent photos. They will definitely not be the "nice pyjamas that I wear to stay at someone else's house" that I was hoping for. I have a couple of other things at the "almost finished" stage and next week you'll see whichever one I finished first. Assuming, of course, that my cabin-fevered ass doesn't leave the house on Tuesday morning and spend a full week running around fields in wider and wider circles, shouting at the air. I'm not promising anything. 

Monday 20 September 2021

extremely delayed spring sewing: upton maxi dress

You may recall that I showed you this fabric in April and stated my intention to make a spring maxi dress with it that I wasn't sure I was going to like.  Well, now it's autumn and I have an autumn maxi dress I'm not sure if I like! OK, that's not fair. It's more that I have an autumn maxi dress that I like but I'm not sure if I'll wear. Let's talk about it!

As you see, this is a super romantic dress. I knew it would be - the pairing of this fabric and this kind of pattern was only going to end up in one place - and I knew it was going to be a bit of a risk to make. Unsurprisingly I'm not yet sure how comfortable I am in it, but I do think it's a very pretty dress that I would like to be comfortable in. 

The pattern is the expanded version of the Cashmerette Upton dress. I don't love the trend towards paid pattern expansions, particularly since it usually seems to be "one extra sleeve type" or "a neckline change that could definitely just have been a blog post", but the Upton pack seemed to have a lot of different options that could make it worth it to me. In fact, when I came to print and cut out, I found that all I needed from the original pattern were the waistband and pocket pieces. I used the princess seam bodice, fitted sleeve with ready-made full bicep adjustment, and the maxi length gored skirt.

I knew I wanted to make a square neck, but I also thought the square neck on the pattern was too small and would look a bit frumpy on me. I was already concerned that a long-sleeved maxi amount of pale pink would be too much and I was keen to have less of it next to my face. Cutting it this much wider and lower presents a whole different set of challenges, but I had been watching a bunch of period dramas and wanted this look specifically. Since the whole thing was a bit of a punt anyway, I decided I might as well go for it and work out how to deal with the issues as I went.

Obviously, the main problem with this neckline in a woven fabric is that it doesn't especially want to stay on the shoulders. I attempted to get round this by attaching narrow lengths of elastic into the seam allowance around each shoulder and across the front. This mostly worked - it does create a tiny bit of a puff at the shoulders but fortunately I think that's quite pretty. 

The fitted sleeve with the built-in full bicep adjustment works really nicely for me, which I'm pleased about because that was a decent chunk of my motivation to make this dress. 

If I were to do this again I'd cut a high neckline on the back bodice rather than the V. I think it would help the shoulders sit better (and also I think the V is too high up to be aesthetically pleasing on this version, though I'm not sure if that's the pattern or something I did accidentally while fiddling with things). I would also probably change the pocket situation. The gored skirt sits a bit too close to my hips for the pockets to be as useful as I'd like, so I'd most likely not bother with them at all in future. If I thought they were really necessary I'd switch out the pocket that comes with the pattern for the Simplicity 8380, my favourite pocket, which anchors into the waist seam and doesn't get in the way so much. 

I suspect the biggest issue I'll have with actually integrating this into my wardrobe is its heft. The fabric is a really beautiful heavy crepe that makes a beautiful dress, but with the long skirt and long sleeves it does weigh me down a little bit and I'll have to be careful what sort of weather I wear it in. This is not a dress I can just sling a jacket over, so it's also harder to make more casual. I'm currently in the process of making a shorter dress from the remnants of this fabric, and if that works it'll probably be a little easier to wear regularly. I'm not at all sad that I made this version, though. I don't have anything with this kind of "English country garden" vibe and it's really nice to be able to dress up in other aesthetics sometimes. 

Up next will hopefully be the first completed project from my autumn plan! I'm working on three of them at once because that's where my brain is right now (she says, with plans to cut out another three today) and they're all coming on very nicely. I'm quite excited about actually being able to follow a plan again. Until then!

Cashmerette Upton expansion pack

Fabric: Floral heavy crepe with slight stretch from Walthamstow Market
Cost: approx. £20
Pattern details: Fitted dress with cup sizes - darted and princess seam bodice options, multiple necklines, flutter and fitted sleeves (the latter with a choice of regular or full bicep), pleated and gored skirts in different lengths, and a waistband piece to make a standalone skirt
Size: 12 G/H in the bodice, blending out to 16 in the hips
Alterations: Change of neckline to be wider and deeper
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes

Monday 13 September 2021

two easy kielo dresses

Hello! Today we have something you've seen a million times before and will see a million times again! 

Yet more Kielo dresses! What can I say, they work for me. I'd always intended to make more this year; I reluctantly put my first two into fabric recycling and I wanted to recreate the exact same things in better quality fabric, but those have been pushed back because a) that better quality fabric was nowhere to be found and b) there were maybe seventeen minutes all summer where I would have considered wearing a sleeveless dress. So I turned to some slightly more versatile versions. 

Standard Kielo is standard: free sleeve add-on from the Named blog, fabric from Walthamstow, scooped-out neckline because I wanted a little less of the print near my face. The only thing I did differently from usual was to not put the back darts in, and then wondered why on earth I'd spent so many years putting slim contour darts in jersey. It makes not one whit of difference and I'll never go back. 

This has been a surprisingly useful dinner dress; it's both dressed up and not at the same time, which I like. It's been far too muggy to try it with tights but hopefully that will work out too. I have zero idea how I'll pair that with shoes, mind you. Patrick and I both went trainers-only at the beginning of the first lockdown because the only thing we were doing was going to nine million house viewings on foot, and then we sort of forgot to go back again and now my feet react with indignance and fury any time I try to put them into proper shoes. 

(I took these photos on one of the very few sunny days we had and of course it was far too sunny and all posing had to be based around averting my eyes. This will not be a problem for the second set of photos.)

The second version I made was an answer to this summer specifically. Too warm and muggy to be wearing clothes intended for colder months, but also too grey and unseasonable to be comfortable in my usual summer fare. Bright dresses and jumpsuits have just felt like a lie. 

(Yeah, this is what it really looks like out here.)

This fabric is from Fabric Land and is a very narrow black, grey and pale pink stripe. Design-wise it's absolutely perfect for a not-summer maxi, but the actual substrate is kind of weird. The only way I can find to describe it is that it seems to forget that it's stretchy. The whole bodice likes to shift upwards and push the neckline away from my body, and I have to keep rearranging myself. The fabric especially does not like being a neckband and if I ever come across a fabric that won't look like ass with this dress, I really think I'll cut it off and redo it. I don't know how often people who read this blog are influenced to buy or not buy fabric from what I write, but just in case: do not recommend. 

Even with that inconvenience, the dress is just the perfect thing and I've been wearing it all the time, usually with trainers and a denim jacket. This will keep me going through spring and autumn and I'm definitely going to make another one with a similar vibe (though I probably won't make it the subject of a post). Finding the right fabric is going to be a challenge for me as I'm not often drawn to the everyday prints above the eyecatching ones or the bright solids, but the maxi dress is my spiritual home and I'd really like to spend a larger proportion of the year wearing them. 

Me: [decides to take a short break from writing this post to look for suitable fabric]
Also me: [finds bright-ass yellow tiger print jersey instead and wonders if the definition of "everyday print" can be stretched that far]

I don't have much more to say about this pattern or either dress I made from it, so instead I'll share with you a small triumph from my month so far: after literal years of writer's block that hasn't been helped by any of the methods I've tried to get through it, I have managed to write a small amount of fiction every day of September so far. It doesn't sound huge when it's put like that, but it is. A plot hasn't really emerged yet but I do have the beginnings of a set of characters that feel real to me and have relationships that I understand, which has always been the best point for me to start from. I'm really looking forward to seeing what I have at the end of the month and I'm genuinely impressed that I managed to make myself do the thing with absolutely zero outside impetus to do so. 

I'm not sure what will be up next. I have several things completed and waiting to be photographed, as well as the first few things from my autumn plan in progress, so I'm a bit spoilt for choice. We'll see which one proves easiest to write about, I think!

Monday 6 September 2021

sewing plan: autumn 2021

 Alright! We're going to have another go at this. I haven't made a functional plan since this time last year (I think we can all agree the spring one didn't count), but once I'd got on top of things a little I knew I needed some kind of structure for autumn so I didn't just flail and make, like, a seven-foot viscose jersey mediaeval cape or something. 

I bought three new pieces of fabric at the market on Thursday, and everything else is pulled from my stash. Because I've not been sewing much my stash is getting to the point where it's bigger than I'm comfortable with (i.e. two mostly full shelves where I can't immediately see everything I've got) and I'd like to use this time to whittle it back down again. The perfectly curated and themed mini-collection can wait. 

What I've done this time, and what I hope to continue to do, is photograph all the fabrics so you can more easily see what I'm talking about. I really hate photographing fabric because it's so difficult to get it looking nice, but slightly crap pictures and a handy visual aid is better than nothing at all, I've decided. 

My plans, divided into three vague categories:

Dinner dresses

I keep having the issue of booking a dinner out with Patrick or with some friends, thinking it would be quite nice to dress up a bit, going to my wardrobe, and realising everything in there is either very casual or very fancy. It's always tough for me to decide against the floor-length version of any given pattern, but I also generally don't want to wear said gowns to the local seafood place. So my plan this month is to make myself a small collection of shorter, semi-fancy dresses that let me feel like it's a special occasion without going overboard. This is what I have:

a piece of dark sea green viscose with bright orange flowers

This is one of my Walthamstow picks from last week. It's a little bit outside my usual realm but I really love the combination of muted sea green and bright-ass orange, and I could instantly picture it as a just-above-the-knee wrap dress. I haven't yet decided if this is going to be my first attempt at a shorter Elodie or if I want something with flutter sleeves. 

pink, grey and black hazy floral viscose

You might remember this from my April fabric haul. I've used most of it on a maxi dress (which is almost finished), but I think there's enough left to squeeze out an Anna bodice/Butterick 4443 skirt dress, like this one. I think that would be super useful for spontaneous date night-type things. 

dusty blue linen-mix fabric with abstract navy squares

Yep, still haven't cut into this. I've been holding out for a giant maxi dress, but am now thinking it's not meant to be. I've made nothing but maxis these past couple of months, and this has gone untouched because I can't come up with a maxi dress pattern that makes sense for it. So I'm going to set my mind to a shorter, more casual evening dress (date night at the gastropub sort of thing) and then work out what to do with the other two or three metres of it. 

a piece of black fabric with an extremely large cream and teal floral border print

This fabric is effing beautiful in person, and making it into a dress depends on my working out what to do with that print. As you see it's enormous - each panel is about two feet long - and I don't want to chop it up (it was, for me, fairly pricey and I couldn't afford enough of it to do multi-panel pattern matching), but it's also not a fabric that I think would lend itself well to heavy gathering. I would love any suggestions!

Useful stuff

A pair of somewhat slimmer-leg trousers

I have been wearing wide leg trousers almost exclusively for several years. I've made a few pairs of slimmer leg ones, and I've always run into problems with them. Usually the issue is that if I make what looks like a well-fitting pair when I'm standing up they strain over my thighs when I sit down, and if I make them with enough room to sit down comfortably in they look like they're the wrong size when I stand up.  I want to try again and see if I can get there. In an ideal world I'd be working with the block I made in class last January, but I've been struggling to get my head round that so if I see a random pattern I like I'll run with it. I've got the below weighty paisley viscose to toile them with; I bought it in a panic a while ago when I wasn't sure I was going to find what I was looking for and I'm more than happy for it to become toile fodder. 

a piece of navy and cream paisley viscose

A pair of cords

This is the one thing I don't have fabric for. and thus may not happen. I have been wanting a pair of cords for years but every pair I make sits in under my belly in a way that makes me uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I still want them. If I manage to make the above trousers work I will order myself some corduroy and have another go. 

A pyjama set

Now that we're in a place to be able to travel long enough distances to stay overnight with friends, I need something a little bit more co-ordinated to take with me to sleep in. I have three metres of this grey floral jersey (this is a particularly bad photo and I apologise) and I'm going to make two of my TNTs - the trousers of the Closet Core Sallie and the Gertie cropped sweater as a T-shirt. 

a piece of grey jersey with a small black floral print

An autumn maxi skirt

In London at the moment it's both definitely not summer anymore but not really the colder months either, and I've had no idea what to wear. So I've been wearing the same two things on rotation, which never makes me feel good. I bought this bright yellow midweight viscose with a pseudo-animal print on my most recent trip, and I'm going to make an altered version of the Deer&Doe Fumeterre, probably with a lining so it won't stick to tights. 

yellow viscose with animal print-like spots

Things I do not need but am making anyway

A corset

Baby's First Corset was on my resolutions list for this year and I still really want to give it a go. Because I've had trouble getting my head around it my intention is to just buy a kit - Sew Curvy has a kit for a simple black underbust corset with all the materials included (including extra stuff to make a toile with, which is a great idea), and my plan is to acquire and make that. I'm hoping to get a sense of how difficult it is to fit a corset, how easy/annoying the process is, and whether this is something I'd like to continue. 

A dress for my lizard brain

Walthamstow also had this on Thursday:

bright raspberry leopard print velvet!

That is raspberry leopard velvet and I absolutely do not need it but my lizard brain screamed until I bought it. I'm not a hundred percent sure what it will be yet; options include the Anna/tulip skirt dress I used to make all the time, a cowl neck version of the Named Ruska dress, Simplicity 8380 or some version of Butterick 6621. Essentially I want something I could conceivably wear to drink whisky at a burlesque night. Edit: after I wrote this whole plan I actually booked myself into a burlesque night so the dress will have both an occasion and a deadline. End of September for the leopard dress!

Whatever I can work out to do with this

heavy blue fabric of unknown makeup with a slight sheen to it

I would really like to use this, because I love the substrate and the colour so much. I was pretty sure I was going to end up caving and making a full-length evening dress, but then I realised that the combination of solid colour and slight satin-like sheen to the fabric would make me look like a bridesmaid. And now I can't work out what it becomes instead. Do I make a shorter dress? Is it weird to have slightly satiny trousers? Would it work as a maxi skirt or would that still look like I'd removed the top from a bridesmaid's dress? I want this to be in my wardrobe and not my cupboard, so I WILL find the solution to this over the next couple of months. 

This plan is, I will accept, slightly more chaotic than usual. I don't usually allow myself so many "well, I don't know which pattern yet, but..." projects, and I can only submit that I have a few definites to get me started and then a bunch of things I'm actually quite excited about. I'm excited to wear all these fabrics, and by all these fabrics I don't just mean the raspberry leopard velvet but the raspberry leopard velvet will get much higher priority than it should. It's sitting opposite me as I write and I just keep... looking at it. Ahem. Anyway. 

Up next: a few miscellaneous jersey projects! 

Monday 30 August 2021

some Lucille trousers and a bonus Hepburn top

I did not make it to Walthamstow last week. I was not feeling well and stressful things were happening (until Thursday we still had a level of obligation to the horrible old Flat of Doom, which have now finally been dispensed with. Much to our amusement, the landlord apparently thought he could just... sell it? As it was, with the warped floorboards and illegal wiring and massive amounts of obvious mould and water damage? And was astonished to hear that he couldn't charge the best part of a million pounds for that? Both a cheapskate AND a dumbass, it turns out), and I wasn't feeling up to it. You need a certain amount of resilience for a busy local market in times where all restrictions have been lifted but you'd still rather not get Covid. So here instead are some finished things! 

I joined Gertie's Patreon for a few months this year, thinking it would probably be worth it because historically I've got on very well with her drafting and sizing, and I downloaded several patterns I'm planning to try out (I've since unsubscribed because I found the Charm Scout thing insufferable - it's entirely valid to like that kind of branding, but I can't stand it. I was a Girl Guide, and I was extraordinarily bad at it). I started with the pattern I was most interested in, the Lucille Trousers:

I was fully taken in by the original photos, which had several models wearing the trousers in a variety of solid jewel tones paired with black T-shirts, which is extremely my aesthetic, so I just... copied it. You might recognise this crepe from my last fabric haul post, and it makes a cracking pair of trousers. It's soft, it's drapey, it doesn't wrinkle when I sit down, it wasn't an absolute bastard to press. If he'd had this in other colours I would have bought every single one. 

I will confess I had to go back to the market and buy more of this, because I cannot describe to you how incompetent my first attempt at this pattern was. I was deeply unfocused and things kept going wrong in ways I couldn't even parse. It's happened enough times now that I need to make it a rule: if I fuse the interfacing to the visible side of the fabric, I am not in the right mindspace to be sewing and should stop immediately. This second attempt went much more smoothly and I had a nice wearable pair of trousers after a day's work. Once again I found that Gertie's draft works pretty well for my shape, and because the trousers are so roomy I was able to just make a straight size instead of blending out. 

I've worn these a looooot over the past few months. They fit well, they're comfortable, I'm as happy to wear them around the house as I am outside, they have excellent deep pockets, and they're a bit less stupidly wide leg than the 7726 trousers I've been wearing for years (and still do, don't get me wrong, I'm wearing them right now). And yet I'm still not sure if I think they look good on me? The waist is very, very high, which I sometimes think looks cool and sometimes think looks ridiculous. It's less the actual trousers and more that my visual instinct is very sure there should be more space between waistband and boobs. Something I'd quite like to do is to experiment with making a facing for these trousers, so they just hit at the natural waist. I'd need to change the lapped zip to an invisible, but that's not a huge alteration. 

I also made a second Hepburn T-shirt from my spring haul fabric, and while I have been wearing this I don't love it anywhere near as much as my black ones. The standard pontes I buy don't seem to quite work for this pattern as well as I might like, so next time I think I'll find myself a thicker French terry. 

(Please excuse scenery change. There were very weird things going on with the light when I was taking these pictures.)

I definitely want to have another go at the trousers once I find a suitable fabric. After three months of extremely consistent wear I still don't know how I feel about the waist, so I'd like to try additional pairs both made up as is and also with the waistline brought down a little. I'm also planning to continue trying the Patreon patterns I downloaded - I'll definitely be making the knit tops and the shorts, and I'm currently trying to determine whether I like the Swing Coat as a pattern or if I'm just taken in by the photos of the bright red version with the dramatic lining. It's probably the latter, if I'm honest. 

Up next: an actual seasonal sewing plan! Unless I don't make it to Walthamstow again! In which case it will have to wait! 

Charm Patterns Lucille trousers (Patreon)

Fabric: Violet crepe from Walthamstow Market
Cost: £9
Pattern details: Wide-leg, super high waisted trousers with deep pockets, front pleats, a back lapped zip, and a choice of straight waistband or shaped one with fisheye darts
Size: 14
Alterations: None
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes

Monday 23 August 2021

sewing room part two: progress

Many months later, I haven't forgotten about this! It's taken a while because, frankly, it's been a tip since we moved in. We made everywhere else look nice and then had a load of boxes and other stuff left undealt with, so it all ended up in here until I randomly hyperfocused and cleared it all up at the beginning of August. 

We haven't done a huge amount to it, honestly. Patrick and I had very little furniture when we moved in and all our money went on things like a decent bed and sofas and dining set, so we've really not been able to afford any new kit for either of our halves of the room. (Patrick bought the cheapest desk that Argos had to offer for his half, on the understanding that when money was less tight he'd upgrade it, and it is truly wretched and he complains about it every time he looks at it. Do not buy the cheapest Argos desk, the ball bearings will somehow fall out of the drawer runners and you will be finding them FOREVER even though there weren't many in there to begin with.) And of course, we don't have any intention of redecorating and getting rid of the flamingos. But I have set everything up as I think I'll be wanting it, and here are a couple of pictures:

As it stands: iron and ironing board permanently set up by the window. I haven't yet bought a new ironing board - I assumed I would be getting the exact same one my mum has, as I mentioned in the first post, but not only does it not have a brand name or any other identifying marks on it, it's also apparently deleted itself from her purchase history. I'm still salty about it. My interim scraps bin (otherwise known as Patrick's old disintegrating laundry basket) is underneath it, and that will be replaced asap because it is literally falling to sharp spiky wicker pieces and I've injured myself multiple times already. Next to that are my notions drawers and a small basket for escaped pattern pieces, and my sewing desk itself is against the wall next to the door:

 This desk is also in line to be replaced when we can afford it - it's increasingly rickety and because of the drawer on the right side, doesn't really lend itself to sewing on two machines. It's not unworkable, so that will probably be one of the last things that happens. Ideally I would like a corner desk, so that I can switch between machines easily but also have drawer space, then I can repurpose the plastic ones. I'm really keen to get some art up in this corner so I'm not looking at a blank wall. I bought a print that I thought really encapsulated everything I wanted, but when it arrived the actual print wasn't very good (it was never meant to be that large and it looked wrong blown up) and now of course my brain has decided that all the art should be stuff I've made, so I have to either pick or take the right photo, and then possibly get into cross-stitch so there are some smaller things to hang up. Patrick has no such ideas for his half and has declared his intention to just have a Kraftwerk poster and a Carly Rae Jepsen poster.

The one thing I have bought is a full-length mirror, which was very difficult to photograph so this will have to do (it's a WIP shot of last week's dress I took a little while ago, so you can still see evidence of the Box Dump. The hat is a whole other story). I find it basically impossible to sew without a proper mirror and the house otherwise doesn't have one, so we prioritised this (after, y'know, the bed and the fridge and stuff). It's next to the desk, which is the best place I can find to put it for now. 

I've also acquired some storage boxes for my patterns and I've put them away categorised by frequency of use, as I planned. I thought about taking photos of the inside of my cupboard, but you wouldn't like it. Workable storage for me isn't very pretty and I'm certain it would upset people. If you are prone to your eye twitching when you see things that are a bit off, I assure you your eye would twitch. But it works, all my patterns are actually put away rather than randomly stuffed out of sight, I know where to find everything, and it's generally much easier to sew now. 

Updated list of possible changes and acquisitions, now in some sort of priority order:

- some art for the walls. I know this is an odd choice for highest priority, but I have everything that's actively and immediately necessary. What I think will make the biggest difference to my creativity and motivation to be in the sewing room is being able to see colour and joy rather than just blank cream walls when I'm sat at the desk. As I said above, I'm currently going through my past photography to see if I have anything that would suit. 

- a magnetic whiteboard to keep track of projects currently on the go, ideas I've had, and any supplies I'm running low on. That will probably go next to the window. 

- a replacement scraps bin for the wicker liability I'm currently using. (I made a small fabric basket for bits of thread and overlocker offcuts, which is on the drawers in the pictures above but is also dark grey so not especially visible.)

- a smart speaker. This is Patrick's insistence - I like to listen to music while I sew and it doesn't bother me to use my phone for that, but the inferior sound quality stresses him out whenever he comes into the room (music nerds gonna music nerd). We have Sonos speakers downstairs - we're not into digital assistant or voice-activated ones - and we'd get the same again for this room. 

- a new ironing board when I can find one that meets my particular specifications.

- a small table for whatever my current work-in-progress is, so that it doesn't live on the ironing board and set a dangerous precedent. 

- corner desk and office chair, which are some way off but I'm looking forward to them. 

There are other, bigger things I also want, but they won't fit in the room while we're sharing it and I don't want to start planning for them until I know if and when we're getting Patrick's garden office. Basically I want a large fold-out cutting table and a dress form in my measurements, the latter especially. It would make a huge difference to my amateurish attempts to learn to fit things if I could experiment on a replica me, and I would definitely hate hemming less if I could hang the garment on something my shape while I pinned it. Also there's a part of me that's convinced the acquisition of a Jen-shaped dress form would open up a whole new world of creativity and I'd be making all sorts of cool shit. This will almost certainly not happen, but I have been enjoying watching YouTube videos of garment draping and pretending I could totally do that too if only I had the equipment. 

My plan is to do another post in this series in the winter, when all the things are on the walls, possibly one when the whole list is done if the room looks appreciably different, and if/when I take over the whole room I'll do another couple of posts about plans and acquisitions for the extra space. I don't want to beat this succession of posts into the ground but I do think it'll be useful - mostly for me, but hopefully also others, especially those with neurodivergence to accommodate - to have a record of what I thought I needed vs what it turns out I actually need once I've been working in this space for a while. 

Up next will either be my autumn sewing plan or a a pair of trousers, depending on whether or not I'm able to make it to Walthamstow this week. I think it's going to be a bit of a stressful one, and it's 50/50 whether my stress manifests as extravagant fabric purchases or hiding inside with a pint of ice cream. We shall see! 

Monday 16 August 2021

an Anna dress and some feelings

 I'll be frank here: this dress makes me a bit sad. 

This is a By Hand London Anna dress that I made to wear as a bridesmaid's dress to the wedding of one of my oldest friends. On the week of the wedding, I finished the dress on the Tuesday... and the following day got pinged by bloody Test and Trace and had to self-isolate until the Friday after the wedding. I had to FaceTime into the wedding, which was half an hour down the road from me, feeling absolutely physically fine (PCR tests confirmed no Covid for me) and it made me so, so sad. I took these photos on the day of her wedding in the hope of being awkwardly photoshopped into the actual wedding photos later on, so fair warning they are mostly very stupid. And now I have this dress, and I really don't know if I'll be able to wear it. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that it's got feelings stuck to it now. 

The fabric is a viscose I ordered from The Textile Centre (she'd asked us to wear blue and suddenly I could not find blue fabric anywhere) and it worked really well for the pattern. Not super thin, plenty of drape, none of that weird plastic-type feel you can sometimes get with cheap stuff labelled viscose. I used my original Anna pattern with FBA rather than the newer one with the built-in D cup because the shoulders of the largest size were too big for me. I went up 1.5 sizes in the waist on the assumption I'd be eating a big dinner and drinking a lot, and put some ties in at the side seams so that it would be somewhat adjustable depending on what portion of the day we were in. If I decide I can get over my feelings and wear this again, I'll probably take it in a bit because it's not massively flattering when not cinched. The neckline is finished with a bias facing because we all know I hate the facing that comes with this pattern. 

Honestly, that's about as much as I have to say about the dress itself. This is the kind of thing that under normal circumstances I either would not bother blogging or shove in at the bottom of a different post as a bonus. But I have not made much recently, and I have a bunch of photos of me being a dork and pretending I'm at a wedding, so I'm going to put some of them here and chat for a bit instead. 

(I would not have worn these yellow suede heels to the actual wedding, despite them being the shoes I most often wear to weddings, because it was chucking it down for most of the day and they would not have survived. You'd think you'd be fairly free from that sort of thing booking your wedding for early August, but NOPE.)

I also FaceTimed into the toasts. We tend to keep half-bottles of fizz for when we want to celebrate something but aren't up for ploughing our way through a full bottle, which was especially fortunate that day because Patrick, though he was also confirmed Covid-negative, was sick as the proverbial and absolutely not up for joining me in a glass of mediocre Cremant. I also had a tiny wedding disco, all by myself. Spotify wedding party playlists are atrocious, by the way. I know the party isn't the first dance and it's not particularly important that lyrics be wedding-appropriate and such, but who is playing Pony by Ginuwine at their wedding? And is there footage of it? 

[general representation of me at a wedding. I hope they just photoshop this into the background of every single crowd shot]

All of which is to say, it's been a weird time inside of a weird time, ten days of not leaving the house was NOT good for me and the fate of this dress remains uncertain. For now I've put it away, and maybe in a month or two I'll have a look at it again. If summer suddenly happens in September like it did a few years ago, I might even try to wear it. I hope I can make peace with it, because I do think it's very pretty. We shall see. 

[also general representation of me at a wedding]

I'm extremely looking forward to my family coming to visit this weekend (and also terrified that it will be prevented by threatened or actual Covid). We've booked Sunday lunch for my mum's birthday but otherwise keeping things fairly low-key, staying away from London's biggest crowds and having a good time with the wine cabinet. Before that happens I'm hoping to get some sewing done; I have a bright red Sallie jumpsuit cut out that I'd really like to complete this week. Not that we'll have the weather for it, but I would still like to own that jumpsuit now. 

Up next: finally an update on the sewing room! What's done, what's to come, general fantasies about owning a dress form and becoming some kind of draping genius running away with me!