but shirr-ly, every girl needs a nani ...

Your eyes do not deceive, you may remember seeing this print already for tis the same Nani Iro I used for my shift dress, only this fabric is double gauze. Gauze is lightweight, soft with an open weave that allows air to circulate freely so is used for garments in hot and humid climates, but it's not very practical because it is so sheer. However, those clever Japanese have very kindly done us all a huge favour and perfected the fantastic double gauze fabric. Literally, it is two layers of gauze that are attached using a grid of tiny, invisible stitches. The fabric feels unbelievably soft and reminds me of a comfort blanket. If you like, you can read some more about it at Superbuzzy.

Have you picked up on my obsession with Japanese sewing books yet? This one comes from the Mother of them all, Stylish Dress Book. Pattern N.

Oh so lovely to sew, the best bit is the pretty, flouncy ruffle at the front which takes it up a notch from halter neck dress to halter neck dress with va va voom. Shame I don't have much to fill it with but I guess you can't have everything!

Anyway, Florence's shirring tutorial came at a very opportune moment since I'd already been eyeing up Karyn's post from a while back. She made a gorgeous version of pattern N and mentioned that despite the pattern requiring an elasticated back, she used shirring. Definitely worth a try, thought I. So, on Karyn's advice I kept adding lines of shirring until I had the fit I needed and after five very fun and delightful rows I reluctantly called it a day. Each line makes it tighter you see. So I started my first line of shirring 1/2 inch down from the top hem and then stitched 5/8 inch between each row. I confess I was a wee bit hesitant beforehand but once I got going, boy did I not want to stop. What FUN!

Both Florence and Karyn warned that once you start shirring there's pretty much no stopping you and after my little dalliance this time, I'm inclined to agree. So batten down the hatches and hide away your clothes boys, I'm on my way.

So now my husband has very sweetly pointed out that all my stitching so far has been for Summer wear and therefore is it possible I now have enough dearest? Ahem, of course he has a point but as MLF would say, "So-ooo?". So perhaps I should think ahead and be on the look out for some thicker fabrics now. That should be nice for July?!

So that's it for June and as we roll into July, and only eight more days of school, I need to think of other things to prepare and do - school fairs, plays, parties galore ... all I can say is bring on the holidays, it's time for some R&R.

Kate x


winging it

Another sewing creation for the blog today. I can't get enough of my sewing machine at the moment, it is without doubt my new 'bf'. In fact it's becoming such a love affair that if the honeymoon isn't over soon, the family will surely starve!

Another reason for my increasingly insatiable appetite for stitching is the Sew Mama Sew dressmaking challenge which is taking place all this month. The only requirement is that the garment must have been made during June and can be for an adult or a child. That's it. So, if you too have been stitching like crazy these past few weeks you may like to post your piece on their flickr group pool here. SMS say their intention was to encourage people to dust down their sewing machines and get creative and I can tell you, it's worked a treat with me!

Japanese fabric that's been hoarded - nuff said! Japanese pattern, same old story. This one is pattern N from Stylish Dress Book 3, from the hugely successful trilogy.

I had such a lovely time sewing this one, which has quite an unusual style in that the front of the dress is made of two parts, the lower section incorporating deep apron-style pockets. I've got a 'Toast' dress from way back with similar pockets, quite roomy but not gaping thankfully, and sometimes it's good to just dig your hands right on in, don't know why. The instructions couldn't have been clearer which helps soooo much too.

Because of the horizontal separation in the dress, I took the time to match up the fabric which thankfully worked pretty well and I had enough material to do that, which I achieved by juggling the order of the pattern pieces. Even so, the dress took nearly all of the 3 metres I had but do you know something? I absolutely love this dress, enough to sacrifice even more had the need arisen!

But by far and away the best bit is the cutesy sleeves which I did issue warnings that you'd be seeing again fairly shortly. So sweet and almost mini wing-like, not to mention girlie too, these sleeves are actually sewn on the outside of the dress right at the very end.

I wore it to a party earlier this week, an outside school 'do' where my mini wings and I remained cardigan-less throughout the entire evening. We could well have been in the South of France.

Which is how it feels today too, don't you think?

And last, but by very definitely no means least, it's my father's Birthday today. Daddy, I love you so much, I wish I was with you to celebrate this day but will raise a glass this evening you can be sure of that! Kate X


sitting on ...

There seems to be a bit of a running theme going on here, with a fair few too many claims of "I've been sitting on this ..." or "I've been hoarding that ...". So I don't suppose you'll be in the least bit surprised to hear that the fabric used in this creation has been 'sat on' for a while too. And what's more, before I sat on it, someone else would certainly have too because this one is vintage. I'm not too sure how old but it's French, possibly 1950's, bought off Ebay - yes a while ago, of course - but it's another case of that all too familiar deep breath before undergoing the snip.

It's such a pretty, dainty print I think. Dusky pink and ivory stripes with cheery floral sprigs running throughout, and just perfect for a little girl. I've been eyeing up pattern M from the first of the Japanese books I bought for girls (and still one of the best despite the fact I'd not actually attempted anything from it before). So I guess you could say I've been sitting on this book too.

This dress is decorated with floral lace around the yoke and some more trimming the pocket, plus a pretty button fastening at the back which came from one of my favourite shops in Swanage. I love its simplicity and styling.

For all its dreamy looks, however, this took the most amount of time, energy and frustration of the lot. There were practically no instructions to speak of and the real problem was trying to work out what to do with the yoke. The pattern size for the yoke facing was massive and made no sense at all. Then I suddenly remembered that Alicia had made this dress a couple of months ago but when I read through her post and saw she had had the same problems I thought, crikey if she can't work it out, then what hope is there for me?

So I slept on it for several nights, my final thoughts before slumber being of how to fix that dreaded yoke. I'm fairly tenacious by any standards but nevertheless I decided to take Alicia's advice and bought McCalls 6022 so I could steal the yoke like she did. However, after one last ditch effort and, I guess a real feeling of not wanting to 'give in to the sucker', I recut the facing again (decreasing the size massively) and somehow it fell into place. Exactly how, I do not know but anyway a Japanese/London hybrid was cultivated.

I can't believe this dress was so long in the making but if and when I attempt it again, of course it will be a much quicker job but I will use the yoke from the commercial pattern for I'm not completely sold on the hybrid, it's not quite as polished as I would like.

The dress itself I am totally in love with, although MLF did, in quite strong terms, say that she wished the lace was shiny!!! Ah well ...

As for those sleeves, flirty little things that they are, I think they are just so gorgeous and sweet - so expect to see more of these. Probably sooner than you think!

But hey, I hope you appreciate the lengths I went to to get these photos. MLF declared modeling 'so boring' and the whole exercise cost me a box of raisins and yet more time in front of the telly. At least she hasn't said she won't get out of bed for less than $10,000!!!

Are you enjoying this weather? I do believe it was Summer today ... x


a (very) short tale

I've cherished these tights for a very long time. I bought these pretty black lace numbers with their perfect seams running up the back long ago when I lived in Jersey (Channel Islands) circa 1989, so we're talking acceptable vintage here. I got them from Laura Ashley which at the time was just a wee concession to the side of De Gruchy's, the main department store in St Helier and I paid £8.95, probably a fair bit then. They then travelled with me all over London, have seen me single, engaged, married and the arrival of two children, but all from the confines of their flat, black, elegant box.

Then, just this week, on waking up to such a cold and breezy day, I most definitely felt the need to cover up those pins again. Not with my Winter opaques though, and finding my usual lacy jobs annoyingly still languishing somewhere in the washing basket, I finally decided the time had arrived, gathered momentum and opened up my squirrelled hoard.

{the slippers are a nice touch, don't you think?!!!}

But after having waited just over 20 years for the moment, the most awful thing happened. You're thinking I laddered them aren't you? But no, think again. They are too short. TOO SHORT!! So there I was, forced to wear a pair of oversized grannie pants (a la Bridget Jones) over the top in a bid to stop them falling to my knees, still feeling the necessity to hoick them up every so often when no-one was looking! All day. And I haven't worn them since.

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

On another note, I've been wanting to post about the little dress I recently made for MLF as mentioned last week. Only for that to happen I need photos, and for that I need to use bribery tactics. I need to bake!

Happy Saturday x


for the love of nani

Wonderful, wonderful Nani Iro - Japanese designer and creator of fabrics that are sooooo beautiful you could just as easily display them on the wall. Really!

I've been sitting on a small number of yardages of Nani's wondrousness for quite some time, mainly because the very thought of ruining the fabric with my unwieldy scissors is the stuff of nightmares but also because I've been waiting for just the right pattern to drop into my hands.

This print is different in that it runs along the selvedge, so if you fold it in half width wise there is a mirror image along the other selvedge. Now the trouble is that when I laid my pattern out that way, there wasn't enough fabric which is a bit of a shame, however an opportunity to be able to say I'm too tall is something I can most definitely live with here. It feels good! In any case, because it's quite abstract and looks beautiful from all angles, I figured it doesn't really matter which way it's used. I mean, birds fly in all directions, right?

And what do you know, I'd been sitting on just the very thing all this time and in fact, if you're in any way an eagle-eyed sort, you may remember this style from a couple of months ago. But it was only when I received a couple of compliments (and who doesn't like those?) when wearing the black version that I decided it was clearly good enough to get a second airing. And because it was already tried and tested, I got those cutters out without a moments hesitation. Plus if all that wasn't enough, the fact I already had the pattern drafted out made it yet more appealing an idea!

So without further ado, I present to you my latest creation. I don't usually wear this colour scheme, it's too 'Continental' for me; in that these earthy shades don't tend to flatter, what with my fair skin and all that, but I figured an extra layer of Laura Mercier 'sexy lips' lipstick would be the perfect antidote!!

I've been finally delving into the vintage fabric stash and doing yet more sewing for MLF but that's for another day. Goodness, I'm becoming most brave!

Enjoy the sunshine. x


last week

we were ...

pond dipping

flower arranging

on safari

at the races

{on Daddy's car - oops!}


{so looking forward to seeing my Veilchenblau some time soon}

baby sitting

rock climbing

playing hide and seek


beach combing

{move over Ursula Andress!}


at the air show


{not here though!}

and just generally appreciating ...


{taken by my boy!}

And you?