Monday, November 14, 2016

It doesn't have any eyebrows except on Saturdays and when it yawns it sounds like Liam Neeson chasing a load of hens around inside a barrel.

Evening all! It's been a little while, hasn't it? As usual, life and work has been busy and obviously there has been a lot of news going on. Like many people, I was very upset about the outcome of the American presidential election and it's been sort of hard to focus on the frivolous things in life. I won't talk politics in detail here, but obviously it has been on my mind a lot. Good things have been happening too - as life does still go on, even with awful things happening in the world. That has helped. I don't have any soothing words about this horrible situation - none of us do, sadly.

Anyway. I don't mean to be frivolous, but as I feel at a total loss for words about the current world situation I'm going to go back to what I usually do here, which is to show you a dress I made and talk about it a little bit. Tonight it's the turn of another Emery dress in Cath Kidston fabric. I say 'another' - this one was actually the first one in a recent run of them, but it's just taken me a while to get around to taking photos of it.

Favour Royal dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress in Cath Kidston fabric, worn with Swedish hasbeens boots

I bought this fabric from the same ebay shop as the rest of the Cath Kidston fabric I have sewed with, but, somewhat unusually, this is a current print. It's called 'Ashdown Forest' and you can buy a dress and a skirt made from it, as well as it being available on bags and accessories. I actually bought it much earlier this year and it sat in my stash for a while. I wasn't sure if I liked it when I bought it, but I reasoned I could make an autumnal dress out of it, so it would be worth getting anyway. The print is lovely, and it has lots of little hidden animals in it:

In this section you can see a badger, a fox, a stag, a squirrel and a robin. Pretty neat, right?

There's also another little animal hidden in the print...

IT'S A TRICERATOPS! I bought this necklace from Black Heart Creatives, and its arrival prompted me to get some photos of the dress. I like the idea of him stampeding his way through the otherwise peaceful forest. I bought the necklace mainly because it's very cool, but also because Nic and I are going back to Northern Ireland soon and I thought it would tickle my dinosaur-mad nephew Joe. I've ordered some dinosaur-themed fabric too, so I'm also hoping to make a dress before we go.

I named this dress for a place I spent a lot of my childhood in: Favour Royal Forest in Aughnacloy, which is the village where I grew up. Favour Royal is out the Augher Road and the forest is open to the public, so we spent many, many Sunday afternoons out there walking with Daddy, often with cousins or neighbours in tow. It's actually part of what once was an estate, but I've only ever known the big house to be boarded up and derelict. Once, at a friend's birthday party, we ventured across the fields and up what remained of the house's avenue to the house. It was much too spooky for us to go in. In my teens and early twenties, rumours surfaced now and again of The Beast of Aughnacloy - a big cat, possibly a puma, that stalked our border village and especially the area around the Favour Royal Road. It was definitely real and almost certainly not part of some sort of sheep-based conspiracy.

They say it's as big as four cats and it's got a retractable leg so it can leap up at you better. And you know what? It lights up at night. And it's got four ears - two of them are for listening and the other two are kind of back-up ears. Its claws are as big as cups and for some reason it has a tremendous fear of stamps. Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail so if you're made of metal it can attach itself to you. Oh, and instead of a mouth it's got four arses.

Of course I'm quite sure that Cath had all this in mind when she designed this fabric. I'm just glad to sometimes have an occasion to think about the beast of Aughnacloy, and of happy childhood memories of exploring the forest. I'm very well settled in England nowadays, but a large part of my heart will always belong to County Tyrone.

That's the craic with me tonight. I'm all out of things to say and the tumble-drier is just about to finish its cycle and I can put my pyjamas on straight out of it. Small comforts are important when times are dark, so that's just what I'm going to indulge myself in. Goodnight and good luck xxx

Has it killed yet? No. But it's only a matter of time... No man's sheep is safe. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Brr. It sure is cold in here. I wish some strong, chivalrous man would lend me his jacket...or pants.

Hellooooo! What's happening, folks? Not too much craic here, it has to be said - which I'm not complaining about! I'm trying to embrace the clocks going back rather than bemoaning the end of the summer - this mainly involves buying cute boots and candles in shocking amounts and making plans for winter fun. Also, now that it's November, I am busy trying to decide how many chocolate panettone I can reasonably buy from Carluccio's. I bought one massive one last Christmas and it was just THE BEST, and now I am seriously tempted to fill all - ALL - available cupboard space in my kitchen with them. Whatever gets you through, though, right?

So that's the craic. It was Hallowe'en yesterday and I did dress appropriately in a dress that I made from some awesome Alexander Henry fabric:

Previously on Braindead dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress with a pleated skirt in Alexander Henry 'Brains and Beauty' fabric

I made this dress at the end of the summer. It wasn't specifically for Hallowe'en because I'm not massively into Hallowe'en at all. No hate, or anything, I just can never get that excited about it because I don't do fancy dress. I actually also find zombies pretty scary - not because I am worried about a zombie apocalypse (I think it could happen but also I know that I have, like, no survival skills, so I will die before the collapse of society, and I take comfort in that knowledge.) I can live with zombie pinups though, especially these ones. One of them is eating a burger that is a human brain in a bap and, as a vegetarian, I can sympathise with that. So many restaurants seem to think that an adequate vegetarian alternative to a burger is to put a fucking mushroom in a bap. A MUSHROOM IN A BAP IS NOT A FUCKING BURGER.

So, yeah. Anyway, I wore this dress yesterday but it's not what I'm blogging about tonight. This is partly because we've all been here before, but it's also total vanity. You're going to have to trust me that the dress looks lovely in real life but it photographs like shit. It looks wrinkled as fuck in photos - maybe this is to do with the colour? I don't know, but it really doesn't look as wrinkled in real life. So I took one photo for the general idea and now I'm going to move the fuck on.

I have a new hand knit cardigan to blog instead. Thankfully this item photographs a bit better...

Andi Satterlund Salal cardigan and Ball and Chain dress

Yeah so it's another Andi Satterlund design. What can I say? Her knitting patterns float my boat. This is the Salal cardigan, from Andi's magazine, Stranded. I really like a cardigan with a fun yoke design, so I knew this one would be for me. 

The pattern calls for worsted-weight yarn but I knit this in some Cascade 220 superwash, which is closer to DK. Actually, this is sort of a midpoint between the two and I found that I was able to get gauge with no issues. I love the colour, which is called Cobalt Heather. 

I knit size small and the only adjustment that I made was to knit the sleeves full length - mainly because, in the colder weather, I prefer to have full-length sleeves! It was a really quick and easy knit - the lace detailing on the yoke is very easy to memorise and knits really quickly, and then the rest is just in stocking stitch. I finished the body very quickly and then, as I often do, dithered around for ages before starting on the sleeves. Of course, once I started those, I was able to knit them very quickly - you know, knitting sleeves in chunky wool takes no time at all. Annoyingly, I had bought the buttons some time before I knit the cardigan and when it came to sewing them on, I found that I didn't have enough and, in the meantime, the shop I bought them from had closed down! So I have contrasting top and bottom buttons, which I am going to live with for a while and see how I feel. I might still switch them all for other buttons.

I'm very happy with the fit - the length is exactly what I like in a cardigan and I love the waist shaping. It is a little broad across the shoulders on me, which is something that I have found in the past in Andi Satterlund's patterns, but honestly I think this is such a minor issue that I'm not worried about it.

I don't super love this outfit to show the cardigan off - although I will wear the cardigan with this dress, I think the shoes look much better with tights - but I am very pleased with my cardigan and will almost certainly knit another! It's not at the top of the queue, though - I want to knit Andi's Blaster cardigan first and, before then, I need to finish a scarf that I started knitting for Nic. His scarf needs are more pressing than my cardigan needs! I have a lot of cardigans.

So anyway, that's all from me. Last night, we watched The Omen (because Hallowe'een, but also because it's one of my favourite films) and I'm thinking tonight might be the time to give Damien: The Omen II a whirl. I know the same kid isn't in both films but I love the little guy who plays Damien in the first one, especially after reading last night that he got the part because he kicked Richard Donner in the balls.

OMG he is perfect. 

So, yeah...until next time. Night all!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The point is, when you eat at Hank's, YOU and YOUR FOOD are going on an adventure!

HEY NOW! How is everyone? I am...injured, actually. Nic and I were watching an episode of Made In Chelsea earlier and, when it finished, I danced out of the room to the theme tune and banged my foot against a box that was sitting in our hallway. I must have hit it awkwardly because the smallest toe on my left foot is purple and swollen. It might fall off! No, okay, it won't. It's just bruised but it is painful and also obviously I do feel a little stupid for getting an injury dancing to the Made In Chelsea theme tune. Hey, it is a good theme tune though.

Devastating foot injury aside, it's been a good couple of weeks. Work has been pretty good, which is nice, and I have been doing lots of fun things. Last week Nic and I went to see The Divine Comedy playing in Leamington:

Long-time readers might know that The Divine Comedy are my favourite band - they have been since I was about 12 - so it's always such a great experience to see them live. The fact that they were playing in my hometown was even better and it was a really fantastic gig - if 13-year-old me had known that one day she'd get to see Neil Hannon performing The Frog Princess whilst dressed as Napoleon, she probably would have spontaneously combusted with happiness!

On Sunday, I was off to London. Anneke was in London with her boyfriend for a few days, so I was able to meet up with them both for a bit of pizza and pottering around Brick Lane. Then I headed off to Notting Hill to meet my friend Kate and her flatmate at the Portobello Star for drinks before going to this:


The last train up to the provinces leaves London pretty early on a Sunday night, so I had booked a hotel and taken Monday off work, which gave Nic and me a little holiday in the city. We were staying in a really nice hotel on the City Road so we spent Monday in that area - we had an indulgent mimosa breakfast, walked around St. Paul's Cathedral, visited the Tate Modern and had a late lunch in Dishoom. It was really lovely.

Being a tourist on Old Street

So that's the craic with me anyway. We have some fun stuff coming up too over the next couple of weeks as well, so when I'm able to wear my shoes again I'll be ready for more adventures.

I've been sewing away and recently I managed to get some photos of a dress that I made back in June - JUNE - to wear to my cousin Sean's wedding. I've worn it lots since then, so I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to get photos of it!

Lucy dress - Butterick B5748 in Liberty Carline tana lawn, worn with Swedish hasbeens   
Suzanne sandals

ANOTHER B5478. Whatever. I bought this blue colourway of the beautiful Carline print from Shaukat over a year ago, and it took me ages to decide what to do with it. I bought it initially planning to make a shirt-dress from it, but the tana lawn has a much finer hand than the poplin that I have made my other shirt-dresses from, so I decided against it. Once we had our flights booked to get back to Northern Ireland for a wedding and I wanted to make an appropriate dress, this combination presented itself. 

And here is me wearing the dress back in June, along with my sister Kelly and my brother Daniel. The wedding was lovely - Nic and I only went to the evening reception, and this dress was pretty perfect for dancing and having fun in. While I was ironing it, my mum asked to try it on and she liked it so much that she asked me to make one for her too - which I did, in a navy pin-dot fabric. I have some of the red colourway of the Carline lawn stashed away to make her another one for her Christmas present too.

There's not too much I can say about this pattern now - I love it, and I love wearing this dress - I've worn it such a lot since I made it. I wore it on a day out in Oxford a few months ago:

Being a tourist at the Radcliffe Camera. Just out of shot: Lewis and Hathaway chatting shit.

I hemmed the skirt with ivory bias binding, which I think works really well - the lawn is obviously really light and floaty and the bias binding gives it a bit of body without weighing it down. I don't have any photos of the back of the dress, but I used cotton tape on the scoop neckline to help keep it fitting closely and to prevent it from stretching out. 

Although cotton lawn is such a summery fabric, I have been able to wear this dress in these early autumn months. On the day we got the main blog photos it was warm enough to go bare-legged and wear sandals, but as I had to go out in the evening I put on some blue tights and boots with this dress. It didn't look as good - but I have a bit of an attitude problem about tights - but it was still pretty cute. I think I might be able to wear this dress once or twice more before it gets really cold. Failing that though, it can be tucked away to await warm spring days again.

Although I did love wearing these sandals with the dress - they're what I wore for dancing in at Sean's wedding, too, and they're pretty much an exact colour match for the roses in the print:

So, that's the craic there. Now I am going to go and elevate my foot (MY FOOOOOOOOOT) and watch an episode of Law & Order: UK because Bradley Walsh. Laugh if you want. I love him.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I was sobbing at a pizza buffet, and they asked me to leave.

Hello hello! I hope that everyone has been having a good week. I've been having a busy week at work  so it's got to Wednesday but it feels at once like it can't be Wednesday already and also that the week has been nine days long at least. My dad was staying with us from Thursday-Sunday as he had some stuff that he needed to do in the area. It was brilliant to have him here, but entertaining all weekend would be tiring anyway - it's even more so with my dad because he has so much energy! We had a really lovely time. On Friday night we went out to dinner at Dough and Brew in Warwick so that I could introduce Daddy to the concept of craft beer and pizza. On Saturday, we needed to go to Derby as Daddy was looking at a van he's thinking of buying, and we had a lovely few hours exploring Derby and Leicester. This was especially awesome as Nic and I found a G-Plan coffee table for sale in Derby, which is something we've been after for ages.

Here it is in situ! Daddy also enabled me into buying a ridiculously expensive Orla Kiely bread bin in John, is that not the most obnoxiously middle-class sentence you've ever read?! It is beautiful, though. I've been dithering about whether or not to buy it for a year and a half and have looked for another one that I like as much and none came close. That's where we are in life now, folks. DESIGNER BOXES TO PUT BREAD IN. I mean

It wasn't all shopping. We went to a museum and everything:

This is a jet engine. 

On Sunday, we went to the tip and then took Daddy on one of our favourite walks in Leamington - over the fields to the Saxon Mill. We detoured through Old Milverton on the way back and spent about an hour taking photos of a mushroom growing in the churchyard:

Honestly, I can't describe how happy it made my dad to take photos of this mushroom.

It was a pretty idyllic weekend, which was perfectly timed as an antidote to other stressful, shitty family stuff that's been going on in the background. My dad might be back in a few weeks' time (he's probably going to buy that van, so we might have another trip to Derby in the near future) so that should be fun!

I worked from home on Monday and, as the sun was shining, I was able to get some photos of a dress that I made last week in anticipation of this mega nuclear brexit winter the the Daily Fail is threatening us with:

Cobblepot dress - Christine Haynes Emery bodice with box-pleated skirt in Cath Kidston fabric, worn with Swedish hasbeens Merci sandals

AHH THIS FABRIC. Last autumn, Cath Kidston brought out a dress made from this fabric:

It sold out really quickly, but also this cut doesn't really work on me - it's too long in the bodice and a bit boxy on me. Also, it has a side zip, which is something that I hate in RTW dresses. You can't buy the fabrics that Cath Kidston uses for dresses directly from them, which sort of sucks (although their fabrics are so expensive, it would probably just annoy me how expensive they'd be if they did sell them.) Anyway, there is an ebay shop that does sell them (the seller's name is prettychicfabrics) so I've been able to buy some of the best prints from there - the mushroom print, the Oxford rose print, the Autumn Bloom print and the Ashdown Forest print (although I haven't blogged that dress yet).

As with the original dress, this fabric sold out quickly on ebay - I bought some for myself and some for a friend, and then I alerted two other friends to it and they bought the rest. SORRY LADS. I knew that I wanted to hold onto it until the autumn, so when it started to get a little bit colder I sewed that shit right up:

Obviously it had to be Emery: it worked beautifully for the Bearaigh dress and I knew it would work well here. This dress is actually the second Cath Kidston barkcloth dress I've made in the last few weeks - I decided to test out my Emery bodice/box-pleated combination out on the Ashdown Forest fabric first, as I was less attached to it and knew I could deal with it if it didn't turn out the way I wanted to. I need to get some proper photos of it, but here is a photo from instagram:

I was really pleased with it, so I didn't hesitate in cutting into the penguin fabric. The only change that I made was to cut the skirt on the penguin version a little bit longer.

I was so tired when I finished this dress that I put it on and felt really underwhelmed, but I actually love it. I love the little penguins!

So yeah, basically...carry on as you were, Cath. Bring out these awesome fabrics, then let me get my grubby paws on them on ebay so that I can make dresses with sleeves that fit me and that I like. This is working for me. This kind of slubby barkcloth works well for me in the winter because it's cosy and warm without being bulky. I have another couple of pieces stashed away, including this 'Paradise Flower' Cath Kidston print:

As you can see, I'm pretty into navy at the moment...I bought these Ten Points boots last week and they are lush. 

Having made so many sleeveless Emery dresses over the last few months, I had kind of forgotten how much I like the pattern's sleeves. And, having made dresses from patterns with inferior sleeve drafting, it was so nice to remember how well the Emery sleeves are drafted. MAN. They are such a delight to sew and wear. 

So, in summary: YAY PENGUINS. I'm coming up to a period in the year where the average amount of aggro in my life increases (work reasons) so I enjoy how genuinely arsey penguins can be:

The pushing is great, but I love this lad speeding in from the right, clearly all about getting into this fight as well.

Let's be real, though. I'm not going to be the badass penguin.


So, Nic has just brought me a gin and tonic, which means it's time for me to head off in another direction. Just imagine me, narrated by Werner Herzog. 

The rules are: do not disturb or hold up the deranged penguin. NIGHT THEN. 

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

I wasn’t flirting with her. I didn’t even mention that I work in propane!

Hello! Good evening. This post is coming to you from a cosy nest on the sofa, where I am currently holed up feeling sick and a bit sorry for myself. It's nothing serious, but enough to make me a little bit grumpy and grotty. To tell the truth, I'm feeling a little bit low all around - the change of season and all of the truly shitty news is taking its toll on me. Ugh. I'll be fine, but I'm definitely not on top form just at the moment.

I've been dealing with it in the best way that I can - sewing, when I have the energy; spending time with friends and binge-watching comforting TV programmes. At the moment, that's Made In Chelsea, which, I don't want to hear it from you if you think that show is stupid and trashy. It is trashy, but it's not at all stupid. If you're too good for it, well, good for you, but I think it's fabulous. Nic got into it fairly recently (I think he enjoyed the return of Francis Boulle in the South of France episodes) so we went back to the start and I'm watching it all with him. We're up to the end of series 5 at the moment so right now it's all about whether or not Spencer and Lucy Watson (she's definitely one of those people who you have to call by their full name. It's not Lucy. It's Lucy Watson) are going to get together. It's brilliant.


The downside to watching so much Made In Chelsea is that it just makes me want to drink champagne like, ALL. THE. TIME (heh, what's new) but the good thing is that watching all of these rich and beautiful children living their strange, purgatorial lives is a little bit affirming. They may be drinking champagne and hanging out in beautiful places all the time, but they all have to spend time with people they hate on the regular. I am glad that is not my life. I would be friends with both Lucy Watson and Binky, though. And dear old, beautiful, stupid Ollie, with his Natalie Imbruglia in the 90s haircut.

Nothing's fine I'm torn

So anyway. That's a little insight into my life, recently. I have been doing things other than just watching TV, I swear. But the TV-watching is funnier to talk about.

I'm still struggling to get photos of recent sewing projects because my own face is bugging the shit out of me. BUT, I did get some photos of a dress that I made over the summer. I made this dress to wear to my nephew Matthew's christening in July, out of some Anna-Maria Horner fabric that I bought from Kerry when she was doing an instagram destash. 

Mary-Beth dress - By Hand London Anna bodice with a pleated skirt in Anna-Maria Horner 'Social Climber' fabric, worn with Swedish hasbeens Merci sandals

I bought the fabric in the spring and sat on it for a little while before deciding what to do with it. I had just under two metres, it's a quilting cotton and it has an obvious directional print. I wanted to think about what to do with it. I'm not sure why exactly the Anna dress presented itself to my mind, but it did. Also, I remembered that I had the perfect zip in my stash:

Because of the aforementioned fabric constraints, the Anna skirt wasn't going to work, so I subbed in the pleated skirt from New Look 6776. I've combined these patterns before and it works pretty well.

Here's a little close-up of the bodice - not sure why my hair is going so weird!

I like this dress a lot. The colours are so beautiful - I love the combination of the warm golden yellow with the pink of the roses. The only minor criticism I have is that it's a quilting cotton and it is on the stiffer side, so the little kimono sleeves really stick out! It might not be that noticeable to other people, but I can see it. I think they'll be less pronounced after a few more washes, though. 

You can see the sleeve issue here on the back and also my no pattern matching which, to be fair, wasn't really an option because of the amount of fabric that I had. I do love that lace zip, though!

This was a good dress for the occasion. My sister asked me to be my nephew's godmother, so I wanted something smart enough to wear to church, and I think this delivered. It also went really well with my pink Kate Spade bag, so I was all set. The weather was beautiful the weekend I was home for the event (I also had a family wedding that weekend - I sewed a dress for that too, which I'll have to try to get photos of) so this was pretty perfect!

Here's me out at the pond, enjoying some rare Northern Irish sunshine

I'll certainly continue to wear this dress throughout the autumn - I think the colours are actually perfect for this time of year. And obviously, I am clinging to my sandal-wearing for as long as I can because I have a lot of sandals.

Right. I have to bounce. Francis Boulle and Proudlock are competing for the same girl AGAIN so obviously I need to give that my full attention. 


Monday, September 26, 2016

My name is Mr Big...I tell you what.

Hello there! How's she cutting? Everything is grand for me. I have had the day off today - it was my birthday yesterday, so I decided to take a long weekend. The weather has been damp and dismal, so Nic and I spent it pottering in town and eating birthday cake. It's been pretty blissful! I had a lovely weekend and was thoroughly spoiled - I spent Saturday sewing and in the evening, I went for dinner at Dough and Brew in Warwick with friends. Pizza and craft beer - what's not to like? I received some amazing gifts, including another Tatty Devine sewing-themed necklace:

So that has been the craic! I've been really busy at work, which has stepped up a gear now that we're officially into the busiest part of the year. It's been sort of nice - a lot has changed over the last few months at work and I really feel like the transition into my more senior role has properly happened now. It's been a busy and eventful summer and it's definitely been very stressful, but I feel good about how I have handled it. So, you know, that's nice!

Anyway, tonight I'm going to show you a dress that I made during the summer. I've worn it loads but just never got around to getting proper photos of it until this week! 

Seventh Avenue dress - Butterick B5478 with a pleated skirt, worn with Swedish hasbeens Mimmi sandals

So, it's another B5478 bodice with a pleated skirt - I love this combination - in some Cotton and Steel Rifle Paper Co fabric. I pre-ordered this print from The Village Haberdashery earlier in the summer - it was the one print from the range that really grabbed me, although I have since bought another one (you can see it in the photo at the top of the post!) The print is called Bon Voyage:

The print is a little bit smaller than I would usually prefer, but I am very taken with it...the references to Paris, New York and jazz clubs were very relevant to both Nic and I! It was the jazz club flyers that made me decide to buy it, but I love all of the little details. I also really like the little touches of gold. I bought the cotton but I think this one might also have been available in a rayon. 

I took this dress on holiday with me to Amsterdam and wore it again a few weeks ago when we happened to be at the seaside during a heatwave:

It's very wrinkly here from having been in my suitcase for three days before I had a chance to wear it!

Although the fabric base is technically a quilting cotton, it's actually really soft and drapey, which means that the pleats don't look super structured. I like this, although I think it makes the dress look very casual. 

Here's a majorly fucking goofy photo of me so you can see the bodice in more detail!

The weather forecast suggests that we have a few more sunny days to come this week, so it's possible that I'll be able to wear this dress once more before I pack it away with the rest of my summer clothes. While I am happy to wear cotton dresses throughout the autumn and winter, I think this one is just too thematically summery to work with a cardigan and tights. 

Again, this is another dress that probably isn't the most flattering - I think the combination of the pale colour and the ditsy print doesn't work brilliantly on me, but, eh, that's okay.  I really like it and feel good in it when I'm wearing it - and, having been with me to picnic in the Malvern hills, to stroll the canals of Amsterdam and to drink champagne at at lighthouse in Kent, it already has lots of happy memories attached to it. 

Right...that's me for the evening. It's time for dinner. Goodnight!