I am not actually as sun burnt as I look
I’m going to a big work party soon to celebrate a special occasion and the dress code is ‘dressed to impress’, now if I worked for a bank or a law firm or something like that, I’d take ‘dressed to impress’ as formal cocktail gear but I work in social media, so I don’t think dressed to impress is quite that formal and possibly / probably is a bit more trendy. Either way though, I don’t do cocktail gear and I don’t do going out clothes beyond going to the pub, so I was a bit ummmmm. I did go out and look for something and ended up buying a top – short sleeve jumper combo from Fat Face which I now consequently don’t like that much (darn you impulse / desperation shopping) but at the same time I bought some black jersey because I was remembering a certain pattern I’d had in my collection for quite some time, the Mission Maxi by Jamie Christina. I had plenty of time to sew but of course half term holiday got in the way, so by the time I even remotely had time to cut out the fabric, the party was mere days away. In the meantime I had been letting my subconscious mentally rummage through my wardrobe and had come up with a top and skirt combo I could wear that I’ve had for a while (darn you desperation shopping again, I really didn’t need to have bought that Fat Face jumper) if I ran out of time to make the dress or the dress was a disaster.
Well yesterday I traced out the pattern and cut out the fabric ON THE PATIO (it was literally the only place I had space to do it) and today I made a start on the dress …. and finished it a few hours later. I was literally gobsmacked, I really thought it would take longer and I would run out of time and I’d be wearing the top and skirt combo I had got out of my wardrobe. I had initially (before half term) planned to do a sort of muslin by making the tank top version of the pattern, just to check it fitted ok as I was unsure which size to go for (and to practice with the binding) but due to lack of time I had to go straight for the black jersey. Luckily the size I went for was ok, although it is a little loose on the shoulders and armholes, I think because upper body wise, excluding my boobs, I’m probably a size lower than I cut but as I had to allow for the aforementioned boobs I had to go more generous. Good thing I’d gone for the lower of the two sizes I’d been pondering between, the next size up and it’d have been slipping off!
Most of the dress went together easily, although I had problems with the binding (on the neck and arm holes), I am to be honest not that good at binding but inaccuracies with cutting due to having to do it on the bloody patio did not help.
Overall I quite like the dress, this is now my third black jersey maxi dress in my collection, the other two are shop bought. I have a 3/4 sleeve plain black maxi dress, which the kids call my choir / funeral dress, which I wear honestly to more things than just choir concerts and funerals (I actually think of it as my parent consultation dress) and a short sleeved, more gathered black maxi dress, which when I had to take it off one morning this week because Girl Lacer had spotted a stain on the back, Boy Lacer protested “but awww you look pretty!”, awwwww. The kids quite like me in black dresses I think. But whoever said black was slimming, they lie.
So I will wear this dress to the party, probably with a scarf to try and hide some of the evidence of my recent misadventures in the sun, I have a grey with white dots scarf that I think would go quite well. And I’ll wear my black buckled DMs with the extra thick soles as well I think, as they’re some of my favourite shoes. But overall I still wish in a way that I was going to wear something different, I don’t know what though and I think really that feeling is more the mismatch of temporarily having to shed my mummy layers and actually go out with adults, wow!
And long term, as long as that binding holds up, I can see me wearing the dress quite a bit, it’s a bit more casual than the choir / funeral / parent consultation dress and less countrified that my gathered black maxi dress and I can see it going quite well with the cardigans (I am such a mummy) I live in. And I definitely think I’ll be making the pattern again, it has a nice godet variation and I could also see myself adapting the pattern to make a number of just above the knee dresses, I could live in those all summer (including another black one). But due to the space problems with cutting the fabric, if I plan to make this again, I really need to find somewhere where I can go and cut the fabric on a big table, it would make all the difference to the finished dress.
Boy Lacer is going to be a soldier in his choir’s performance, he needed some green, khaki or camouflaged trousers, he didn’t have any, so I thought I’d make some. The pattern is from Oliver & S, the Sandbox Pants pattern (minus the back pockets as I didn’t have time) which I’ve had in my pattern collection for far too long and the fabric is from a seller on Ebay. I’ve had all week to make this and of course I left it to the last minute, it took me all yesterday afternoon to trace the pattern and cut out the fabric (tracing the pattern was a nightmare, I haven’t done any serious big sewing since moving back to our flat, I still miss our old temporary flat’s lovely large (compared to ours) table, I had to trace the pattern on our floor, even then the tracing paper was still shifting and I was making mistakes) and most of the day today to sew it. My actual craft space is in my bedroom but I deliberately moved into the living to do this, this is what I had to work with.
Space is getting to be the big hampering thing in my progress as a seamstress, being able to cut out pattern pieces accurately is crucial and I’m struggling to do that. However, having said all that, I’ve certainly been less accurate in other projects and at least my living room floor is now (thanks to the reorganisation that was part of the refurbishment) pretty much consistently clear. The actual trousers came together pretty well, watching them make trousers on The Great British Sewing Bee the other week certainly helped (these are only the second pair of trousers I’ve made).
I struggled with the waistband though, I needed to make a pair of button holes for the tie cord, this was the first time I’ve needed to make button holes since I got my new machine. Now my old machine used to be a nightmare for buttonholes, so I was very excited to get a machine that did automatic button holes, hmmm, I tried some on a piece of scrap fabric, would get half way through each button hole, then I’d get an error message, BL and the machine wouldn’t do anymore. Googling, I think BL stands for button lever and I found a couple of threads about having to pull it down but I couldn’t find anything about where exactly the button lever is and my instruction manual wasn’t exactly helpful. So if anyone knows anything about the BL error code when doing button holes using a Janome CXL301, I would love to hear from you because right now it’s putting me off making anything else with button holes (although Mr. Lacer the love says he’s going to have a look at my machine for me to). Anyway, back to the trousers, in the end I bodged the buttons holes, they don’t look great and are a bit too small but they do the job.
Oh and *slap wrist me* I should have double checked Boy Lacer’s height against the size as size 7 (he’s 7) is way too big for him. In fairness to me though, I noticed that size charts listed total height, not leg height and as total height goes, Boy Lacer is pretty average for a 7 year old, but it is all in his torso, his legs are a little on the short side, I’m not sure I could have judged the correct trouser size for him then on total height. Anyway, as long as they don’t fall down in the concert!
(Boy Lacer is now sitting next to me, questioning whether me giving his age and that he’s average size is good internet safety, I have him well trained – he’s just made me remove the name of the concert he’s in)
I got this pattern from the Love Embroidery magazine, which is one of those craft bookazine type things, it’s meant to be machine freehand embroidery but I don’t have a darning foot for my machine and was a little daunted about getting the right one (I have a Janome machine and there seems to be two different darning feet, depending on what type of Janome you have and I wasn’t completely sure, but I think I’ve figured it out now, so I definitely want to try some machine freehand embroidery in the future). But for now this was hand embroidered. I made a mistake with the pattern and should have continued the bottle tops and the toothbrush head over the top of the applique and I made a mistake putting the bag together, hence the ribbon at the bottom hiding my mistake. But overall I’m pretty pleased with the bag. I’ve made plenty of drawstring bags in my time but none using this particular construction method and I think it’s pretty cool.
(You can also get the same pattern, apparently, in Poppy Treffry’s book Freehand Machine Embroidery)
Embroidery patterns by SeptemberHouse.
We used to have two very grotty floor cushions, we still have one actually but I’ve grabbed it off Boy Lacer’s bed and hidden it in my bedroom, he was quite attached to it but put it this way, ‘grotty’ was describing it nicely and it wasn’t the sort of cushion you could wash. So, with a spot of inspiration from some similar cushions in John Lewis, some spare fabric left over from making the kids’ curtains (which I still haven’t blogged about as I still haven’t hemmed them, even though they’re up) and some bean bag filler, I made these up. The embroidered labels are from the book S is for Stitch, which I’ve just reviewed over on Feeling Stitchy (head on over, there’s a competition!).
I wrote a little while ago that I had lost my embroidery mojo, it did come back (this is the third piece I’ve stitched since then) but it came back laden with conditions, the foremost one being that the embroidery I was doing had to, in some way or another, stretch my skills, the first piece (the florophone) was about using colours I have a tendency to feel uncomfortable with, the second piece (the coloured flowers) was about using applique in a different way and so is this piece. All three pieces have also been about me practicing my mounting skills and they’re still not that good, the floor’s crooked on this one and it’s completely and utterly screaming at me, trust me, it wasn’t crooked before I mounted it Also believe it or not but the guitar and the boots are meant to be colour tinted, the colour faded really quickly on this one. But ignore my whinging, this was a brilliant pattern to work with, by Lucky Jackson, whereas florophone and the coloured flowers weren’t quite my style, this one definitely is and I definitely plan to stitch some more of Lucky’s patterns, it’s inspiring me to have ago at stitching up some of my own Lucky Jackson style patterns to.
And PS, I so want that red dress