Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pattern Review: Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity 2250

I'm going to start this post by saying that I was both super excited to sew this dress, but also full of trepidation. Super excited is fairly self explanatory: I mean, look at the thing! How cute is that dress design?!?

The trepidation, however, became the overwhelming emotion whenever I steeled myself to glance over the patterns instructions. There were darts. And pleats. And darts upon pleats. And that was just the bodice! Still, I was determined to make this Cynthia Rowley number up. The fabric was in the stash, nestled snugly in next to the lining and zip. All I needed was the courage, and this dress could be mine, all miiiiiiiiiine!

So I sewed it. And scratched my head over it. And probably said a swearword to two under my breath as I tried to figure out which darn piece was meant to be folded where? And then doubted my sewing ability when my bodice didn't match my lining piece. And then nodded sagely when I read other reviews which said that their bodice pieces didn't match their linings, either.

I muddled, and unpicked, and finger-pressed (wondering why I couldn't just attack it with my iron and end up with nice, crisp pleats) and finally got this baby finished. And now I feel a bit 'meh' over it.

I mean, I like it, but after all the effort and time that went into this I wanted to LOVE this dress. In fact, I wanted to put this dress on, and have people stop in the street and take photos of it, and cars crash as the drivers took their eyes off the road and instead watched me in this amazing dress float down the street, resulting in very expensive insurance premiums for them, and a whole lotta dress attention for me. I wanted Sarah Jessica Parker to find an image of this dress on Pinterest, and demand that her PA track down the maker of this incredible dress, and then contact me personally to beg me to make her one, too. I mean, really. Is that too much to ask?

Instead, I have a dress that I kinda like, but really doesn't melt my ice cream that much.

I shall take my fair share of the blame for this. I imagined the scalloped stripe of the fabric pattern would look brilliant in a kinda of 3D-hurt-your-eyes way amongst all the pleating and folding, but it just looks a bit muddled and lost. I also think the fabric has far too much white in it for my colouring. I have a feeling that a block colour would have worked better, like this gorgeous version by SilkWings in yellow.

Still, every though I don't wake up every morning dying to put this dress on, it's still pretty cute. And it has pockets. Phew - saving grace! Still, SJP - if you want it, just let me know.

CR Dress #4

CR Dress #2

CR Dress #3

CR Dress #1

Project Details
Pattern: Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity 2250
Fabric: 2.4m cotton print from GJ's Discount Fabrics
Notions: 30cm invisible zipper, lining for bodice, interfacing and elastic

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Simplicity 1803 - The Spotty Version

Jorth looked regretfully at the patterns assembled before her and took a deep breath. "Look guys, I'm sorry to say that you've all been replaced as my favourite pattern. My apologies, Vogue 8511 and Vogue 8184. You've been good patterns to me, and have been there for me when other patterns just weren't enough. But I've made you all too many times, and to be frank it seems I'm a one pattern girl. Simplicity 1803 is the one for me now."

"Buuuuuuuuut!" began the broken-hearted Vogues but Jorth stopped them in there tracks with a stern look. "Don't make this any messier than it has to be. You all know how much I love the Cabbage dress. Spots is just as good. There's nothing more to be said."

"Well..." said 8511 as Jorth left the room, spotted skirt a-swishing. "I guess we had a pretty good run whilst it lasted. And that Simplicity number is quite a dress!"

Spotty Dress #2

Spotty Dress #1

Spotty Dress #4

Spotty Dress #3

Yup friends, you read that right - I've made myself another version of Simplicity 1803, and I am in love! It's been made up in quite a heavy weight cotton, which really gives the skirt a lot of body, and makes it feel entirely different to the Cabbage dress.

Initially I tried to make View A, which had a bodice yoke, but it felt awful to wear. The neckline of the yoke sat right on that part of your throat that gives you the heebie jeebies if anybody ever touches it, so it had to come off! Yeuch. Hate that feeling! It meant a bit of extra faffing around cutting out new pattern pieces and doing quite a bit of unpicking, but I am glad I made the change.

What else did I do? Oh, that's right - I omitted the waist tie, as I knew I wanted to wear this dress with a belt. Everything else was left just as specified as the pattern said.

One last thing: Boy do I love those pockets!

Project Details
Pattern - Simplicity 1803, view B
Fabric - 2m of heavy weight printed cotton (from stash)
Notions - Interfacing, 40cm invisible zipper, bias binding for the armholes

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monthly Menu Plan - November/December


Er, not sure what happened with last month's menu plan. Sorry about that! But here we are, bigger and better then ever, and this time we've got added weekend breakfasts! Yup. Tyger is right into making breakfast on the weekend, so we did a deal - she could choose what we had, as long as we did one morning savoury and the other morning sweet. When she opens her own café one day I am so taking all the credit!

Week One:
Monday - Courgette and potato frittata with a garden salad
Tuesday - Spiced carrot and lentil soup with savoury scones
Wednesday - Brown rice and lentil salad with feta and roasted pumpkin
Thursday - Spring vegetable risotto
Friday - Pizza: Mushroom and balsamic onions, and pepperoni with chilli
Saturday - Bombay sliders with Jamie's chopped Indian salad
Sunday - Green curry with hot smoked salmon

Weekend breakfast #1 - Potato and egg bake
Weekend breakfast #2 - Pikelets with summer fruit salad and lemon curd

Week Two:
Monday - Spaghetti with peas, lemon and chilli, with rocket for topping
Tuesday - Baked potatoes, with coleslaw, corn, cheese, spinach, grated carrot and kidney beans
Wednesday - Roasted pumpkin soup, followed by zucchini and sweet potato slice with salad
Thursday - Cauliflower fritters with roasted beetroot and lentil salad
Friday - Jambalaya
Saturday - Night off - hooray, no cooking tonight!
Sunday - Beef and mushroom stroganoff with beans and sweet potato mash

Weekend breakfast #1 - Blueberry and buttermilk pancakes
Weekend breakfast #2 - Huevos rancheros with crusty bread

Week Three:
Monday - Chilled pea and avocado soup with watercress and egg sandwiches
Tuesday - Spinach gnudi with sage burnt butter, and a green salad
Wednesday - Pumpkin, feta and onion marmalade tart with rocket and avocado salad
Thursday - Spaghetti and meatballs
Friday - Tofu burgers with spicy wedges
Saturday - Sausages with home-style baked beans
Sunday - Pumpkin and ricotta cannelloni with garden salad

Weekend breakfast #1 - Fruit and nut breakfast bars
Weekend breakfast #2 - Apricot, cranberry and pistachio quinoa porridge

Week Four:
Monday - Strawberry gazpacho with roasted garlic, lemon and spinach bruschetta
Tuesday - Moroccan carrot and chickpea stew with couscous
Wednesday - Asparagus and ricotta tart with lettuce wedges and herb dressing
Thursday - Farro risotto with ricotta topping
Friday - Bean tacos with all the trimmings
Saturday - Roast chicken with salads
Sunday - Pumpkin soup (from freezer) and toasted sandwiches

Weekend breakfast #1 - Home made granola with fresh berries
Weekend breakfast #2 - Asian vegetable omelettes

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bedlam in the bedroom


"I wanna go out!" moaned the roses dress plaintively.

"No, I wanna go out!" wailed the spotted number.

"Oi! Lay off it, Dots! I said it first!" retorted Roses, ready for a punch up if it came to it. She had a belt, and she wasn't scared to use it.

"Pah!" replied Spotty, who was rocking a belt of her own. "You don't even have your hem finished yet! As if you'll be going anywhere anytime soon. Dream on, princess!"

"What about me?" groaned Simplicity 2250, who didn't have a belt, but felt safe enough in the wardrobe. "I've been finished for weeks now, but have I debuted on her blog? You can bet your nelly I haven't. Grrrr!"

"Oh, for heaven's sake, shut your zips!" roared Sabrina, the increasingly disgruntled dressmaker's dummy. "Nobody is going anywhere until this blasted rain stops!"

"Although I'll tell you what", she continued under her breath, "if Jorth doesn't get her act together and model some of these darn dresses, I'll be the one waltzing out the door, rain or no rain. Anything for some peace and quiet!"

Monday, November 11, 2013

Roses in bloom

Roses In Progress

Sabrina, the somewhat temperamental dressmaker's dummy, didn't give much of a toss about the handknits brigade. She studiously ignored the frantic click clack of Jorth's needles, and turned her thoughts instead to the sewing that was taking place. She always like a bit of the retro look, and considered Butterick 6582 to be right up her style aisle.

So whilst Jorth was running around like the proverbial chook minus it's head, bewailing the fact that she only had 19 days left to get the knitted dress finished, Sabrina instead contemplated the partly finished dress adorning her fine form, and, despite constantly hearing Jorth's panicky pants as she tried knit as fast as she could, thought to herself that things were indeed coming up roses.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Pink knitting disaster

All I wanted was a quiet weekend away, with the chance to get some good solid knitting done on my Lace Maxi Dress (see post below for image of said dress). As I knit I would plan out how I would wear this dress. Definitely with milkmaid plaits atop my head. Closed shoes or open strappy heels? Oh, choices, choices! But no fear - I would have many happy hours to ponder these things as my needles clicked together and the pink lace grew under my steady labour.

Or not. Being the good knitter I am, I swatched for the lace dress and then gaped at my swatch in horror. That wasn't lace so much as an invitation for everybody to view my private parts! When your swatch is bordering on indecent in it's see-through-ness, then you know that a whole dress knit up in it will be a skanky lacy disaster!

And since I was planning to wear this to my friend's wedding, it wasn't really the look I was going for. Hurumph.

I have a feeling my swatch was too holey because the yarn I used (Sirdar Baby Bamboo) contained no mohair, whereas the yarn specified, Noro Silk Garden Lite, contains a whopping 45% mohair. I can imagine all those fuzzy, free-floating mohair fibres would work to hold the lace together in a much more secure fashion. A case, methinks, of a garment being designed with a very particular yarn in mind.

Unfortunately I had no boundless yarn budget to purchase more yarn with. And I was stuck in the middle of the country, with only the yarn and needles I had brought with me. What's a knitter to do? No fear - pdf patterns to the rescue! I kissed my husband on the cheek for his foresight in lugging his laptop with him on our weekend away (no small feat considering we were on a cycling break!) and immediately downloaded the Principesa dress pattern, which I've wanted to make for aaaaaages. I quickly swatched, gave a joyful chortle of delight when my swatch worked with the yarn I had, and settled down to knit. So before you know it, this:


will soon turn into a hot pink version of this:


And I have 23 days to get it finished. Yikes!