Compagnie M. Mara Blog Tour – Mara goes to Paris

When Marte announced a secret summer blog action over at  Compagnie M. I didn’t have to think twice before adding my name to the list.

When I found out that the subject of our secret mission was to be the Mara Blouse, I was thrilled.

Compagnie-M_mara_blouse_square

You can see my Paris inspired Mara blouse, head on over to the Mara blog now and check it out…then head on back to find out how you can win some super prizes.

Mara 8-1

Discount code:

If you’d like to make your own version of the Mara blouse, Marte is generously offering a 10% discount on the pattern from now until 17th August 2014.  Just pop over to her shop and use the code MARA-ACTION.

Sewalong:

Once you’ve bought your pattern, why not enter your Mara in the sewalong.  There are some great prizes to be won…check them out here!  The closing date for the sewalong is 17th August 2014.

Mara 7

A note about the fabric:

Whilst we are now right at the beginning of the summer holidays, when very little in the way of sewing will take place, I wanted to be prepared for the raft of family events and parties that will take place in the autumn.  With that in mind I created a season appropriate party outfit for Button that will be equally at home at a family lunch or a school friends bash at a play centre.

My fabric choice was a complete antidote the the raft of Pepto Bismol and Acid Barbie Pink that my little miss has been choosing at every opportunity recently.  I completely pulled rank on this…I’m sewing it…I get to choose the fabric.  Total Mummy Brat moment and I’m not sorry! ;-)

The Eiffel Tower fabric is from Oh Sew Crafty on eBay, and the spot from Dunelm.

Disclaimer:  

I received a complimentary copy of the Mara pattern in return for my participation in the Blog Tour.  As always, all opinions are entirely my own.

 


Blog makeover update

So…the blog makeover continues.

If you look to the right of this post, underneath the “delightful” photo of me, there are now lovely social media icons.  And a way to email me if you feel the urge (please do…I’m always happy to hear from you).

Also, the font size has also been increased to (hopefully) make my ramblings easier to read.

We still have some things to tweak, but as I couldn’t find my way around CSS coding with a map and a sherpa, it’s all left to the lovely Husband, who, quite frankly, is so busy it’s a miracle he has time to speak to me let alone tinker with my blog (oooh, er, Missus!).

I am aware that some folk aren’t receiving notifications of new posts. I’m really sorry about this.  We are he is working on adding a new “subscribe” button too, but it you read your blogs in an aggregation service such as Bloglovin’ and are having problems, please do let me know.  We do hope to have this sorted very soon, and are very grateful for your patience whilst we he sorts out the niggles.


Minty fresh tank top

When I first met The Husband I was living in Surrey and working in London. At the weekends (or during the week if he could swing a meeting locally) he would drive the 280-ish miles to visit (and the same home again on a Sunday night).

On the Saturday we’d do fun things…oftentimes involving taking the 25 minute train journey into London and ‘doing’ a museum or some shopping, or a long and boozy lunch.

Berwick street

And, now and again, quelle surprise, we’d find ourselves on Berwick Street and he would happily traipse in and out of fabric shops and treat me to a metre or many of lovely fabric.

One such purchase was some incredibly soft and drapey pale spearmint coloured linen.  It’s buttery texture is divine and it’s just opaque enough to maintain your modesty whilst you stay cool.  It was £20 a metre 8 years ago.  Not cheap.

And it’s sat in my stash for 8 years because I couldn’t decide what to sew with it.

Which is, quite frankly, a crazy waste of beautiful fabric.

With the new found (Wardrobe Architect motivated) spirit of sewing up or shipping out my stash fabric, it was time to bit the bullet on this an actually make something from this lovely linen, and I wanted something that I would get a great deal of wear out of over the summer months.  A dress would be lovely, but wouldn’t get the wear, so I decided on a simple tank top.

I knew I wanted a breezy and long line silhouette, a curvy hemline and some tiny tucks across the front, but couldn’t find a pattern that cut the mustard.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been banging on about making my own patterns, so, I did.

1886

I used Simplicity 1886 as a block, traced a copy so I could scribble, cut and tape to my hearts content, and in very little time, had a pattern that I absolutely love.

green linen top 1

I made the following alterations:

:: added 1/2″ to each side seam allowance to give me a loose silhouette

:: dropped the neckline by about 1″ (ish) and scooped the neckline front and back to make it wider

:: added 2″ to the front of the blouse and 3″ to the back

:: shaped the sides to give a shirt tail effect

green linen shirt tails

:: replaced the neckline facing with a self made bias binding facing

green linen bias bound neckline

:: armholes also have a bias bound facing

:: added 6 x 1/4″ pintucks to the front of the bodice

green linen pintucks

It sounds like a lot when you write it down, but it didn’t take very long at all to do, and now I have a top that as soon as I’ve worn it, goes into the wash so I can wear it again as soon as possible.

green linen top

I adore this top and only want to make a couple of teeny tiny changes for the next one.

:: raise the front neckline by about 1/2″.  Because the top is so breezy, the neckline can be a bit precarious when I lean forwards…not cool at the school gate!

:: the darts are a bit hinky.  The fabric hides a multitude of sins, but I need to bring the bust point back a little, possibly only 1/4″, just to avoid them hitting at the wrong point and ending up, well, pointy!

:: The side seams sit slightly towards the back of centre…again you can’t really see it but I’m aware of it.  Moving them forwards just 1/2″ will solve that problem.

Very minor changes that will make the next top pretty much perfect.  Now I just need to decide what I’ll put in place of the pintucks for a different look! ;-)

PS…yes…those are my red Lotta’s.  They get as much, if not more, wear than this top.

PPS…and yes, my blue one’s are here too.  :-D


Wardrobe Architect – Colour…Solids…Prints

wardrobe architect header

Wow, this post has been a long time coming.  Not only because I’ve been letting my thoughts on the topic percolate, but also because I hadn’t got a clue how to make the lovely little colour visuals to go along with it! You’ll see below that I’ve got a handle on that now…I’m currently working on improving my graphics skills.  More on that at a later date. For now…back to the matter in hand.

The Wardrobe Architect sessions on Colour, Organising Your Palette and Solids & Prints have been astonishingly revealing for me.

Historically I’ve been tempted by shiny, pretty fabrics as much as the latest “must have” pattern.  And, for me, this has been at the root of the lack of style cohesion.

Why?

For several reasons.

…When you have a lovely collection of pretty fabrics in different prints and every colour under the rainbow….nothing goes together.  Individually they are all lovely. Together it becomes a hot mess.

…Not all of the pretty fabrics really suit me.

…This lack of suitability means that the fabric doesn’t get sewn up, or, it does and the garment is an immediately fail because it feels off.

I’m as guilty of this with RTW as I am with fabrics.

So I flicked back through my blog posts and through my wardrobe and chose the outfits/garments that:

…Are the ones I reach for first when I open the wardrobe door.

…Are the ones that every time I wear them I receive a compliment…not always on the actual garment…most often of the “hey, you look really well today” variety.

…The ones that make me feel really good when I wear them.

Doing this flicked a lightbulb in my head.  And suddenly it became really easy to identify “my” colours.

Neutrals – the basics that go with just about everything.

WA 1 - Neutrals

Nearly neutrals - like neutrals but have a little more visual impact.

WA 2 - Nearly Neutrals v.2

Statement colours – “have a lot more visual weight, and they tend to make clothing more recognizable”

WA 3 - statement colours v.2

 

Metallics – “act like neutrals but have a bit more spark to them”

WA - Metallics

But what about prints and patterns?  I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty print.  They’ve not always been the best purchase for me.

Again, it’s become surprisingly clear.

I love a good polka dot and a strong stripe

Checks and “twee” florals are less my style.  (Hey…look…”my style”…it’s working! ;-) )

Bold and modern prints and florals…oh yes please.

Geometrics….not so much.

Image from The Village Haberdashery

Image from The Village Haberdashery

What surprised me the most is that this isn’t a big list.  I think I’d always thought that if I had a wardrobe full of clothes of the same colours, it would all be a bit bland.  In reality it’s completely the opposite.  Not all navy trousers are the same!

Having a wardrobe of garments in colours that make me feel good, in the silhouettes that I love to wear, and which can easily mix and match will be liberating and exciting.

Surprisingly this all fell into place for me last week.  I was trying on some tops and knew that a tunic silhouette with a 3/4 sleeve would be worn to death.  I picked up half a dozen in the colours I now know work for me, and then it was a simple issue of fit.  Whereas clothes shopping is usually an exercise in frustration and futility, within 30 minutes I’d tried on several pairs of jeans and a handful of tops and walked out with one of each.

Painless.  For the first time ever!

Next time I’ll bring the series even more up to date with my thoughts on planning my Autumn/Winter wardrobe.  I know it’s summer, but I’m working my way through stash fabric at the moment…the stuff I do want to wear.  Clearing the decks so that I can plan my next steps without fabric/pattern guilt!


Who moved my thread?

Yesterday I finished the green linen top I’ve been working on and washed and pressed this lovely fabric which is next on the list…it’s going to be a top for Button.

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Knowing that today I’d be ready to start on this I’d popped to the shops earlier in the week and purchased a polka dot contrast fabric and thread so I’d be good to go.

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The colours are a much better match in real life.

The cutting out took no time at all.

I was ready to get to it.  All fired up and sure that I’d have this little thing all done and dusted and camera ready by the end of today.

Except…could I find that blasted reel of thread?

No!

I’ve hunted high and low. And for a good couple of hours. I’ve tidied and emptied and peeked in all the unlikely places…fridge, freezer, dog’s food bin.

Can I find it?

Still no!

Thankfully I’m out and about tomorrow and can easily pick up another reel.  But really…what the heck is that all about?  Where can it be?

Whilst I have no evidence I sense the work of small people here.  And I don’t mean pixies!

I’m abandoning the sewing in a fit of pique.  I’ll show it who’s boss…I’m off to knit.

However, if by some strange quirk of fate you see my thread wandering about, possibly with a knotted hanky on a stick slung jauntily over it’s shoulder, could you tell it to stop faffing about and get back here pronto.

It’s got work to do!


Lotta love

I recently mentioned that I’d finally bought myself a pair of Lotta from Stockholm sandals. Having worn them pretty much constantly since they arrived I’m confident that now is the time to give you a review.

To remind you I bought the Peep Toe Clogs in Red Leather in a size 39.

lotta 1

 

To back up a bit, I have to tell you that, as with so much other ready to wear shopping, I have a love/hate relationship with shoes.  I love shoes…too much if you ask The Husband, but what does he know?…but, as a UK size 6.5, with a surprisingly narrow foot, buying shoes is oftentimes a depressing experience, as very few stores in my price bracket offer half sizes in shoes.

lotta 2

Add into the mix a dodgy knee that will need to be replaced at some point, a compression of vertebrae in my mid-spine and a recurring problem with my neck that we’re still trying to get to the bottom of, and the other thing you have to factor in is heels.  Or lack of them.

lotta 3

It seems beyond the wit of man, or fashion shoe manufacturers anyway, to produce cute, comfortable shoes, in half sizes, with a low heel, and a sole that isn’t so thin that you feel like you’re walking with your feet in sacks of nails.

Enter Lotta.

lotta 4

First up…they are half the price of their stylistic cousins, the Hasbeens.  This isn’t a criticism of Hasbeens, but when you’re trying something new for the first time, a more wallet friendly alternative is always a good thing.

Secondly…they have a heel and a substantial sole…obviously.  Compared to ballet flats, which I love, but which sometimes have heels and soles so thin as to be almost non-existent, this buffer between tootsies and the cold, hard pavement is a wondrous thing.

lotta 5

So far so good.  But…they don’t do my tricksy 6.5 half size.  Well, you’ll have noticed that I ordered a 6.  And they fit me beautifully.  The size 6 also fits my friend Himmlebjeget.  She actually is a size 6.  The lovely Lara Croft is a size 5.5.  She tried mine on and, yep, the 6 is the size she’d order too.

Now both H and L have wider feet that me…it’s not difficult to have wider feet than me. But the leather is so supple that this isn’t a problem for them.

The supple leather also ensures that the shoes are super comfortable to wear.  Yes, the hard sole takes a little bit of adjusting to because you have to walk properly.  But my notoriously abysmal posture is ballerina straight when I wear them, and you can feel the workout in your tush.

I am, shall we say, a convert.

lotta 6

And lets not forget that shopping with Lotta is a delight.  Prompt service.  No hidden costs.  And the best courier service I’ve ever encountered without exception.  On the day of the delivery I received a text telling me the name of my driver, what number on the list my delivery was (number 7), that delivery number 1 was currently being made and my shoes would be with me between 8.34 and 9.34am.

Just when I’d be out on the school run.

No problem.  A quick text and arrangements had been made for the parcel to be left for me in a secure place. Which it was when I got home from school.

Amazing.

So…comfy shoes, that look super cute (The Husband, an inveterate stiletto man if ever there was one, loves them), fit like a dream, support my ridiculous back, give my butt a much needed workout, go with everything and don’t break the bank.

What’s not to love?

Nothing…that’s why I’m ordering this pair this week!

lotta 7

They’re a slightly higher heel, but I think they’ll be ok.  This could be the start of a beautiful, and comfortable, relationship!

 

All pictures are from the Lotta from Stockholm website, used with the kind permission of Lotta and Jonny.  Other than letting me use their images, this post is not sponsored…I just love my shoes and wanted to share.


The Frenchman and St George

Today the children’s school is having an International Day where each class celebrates a different country.  I love these kinds of days because the kids have a load of fun, but learn a little more about the world, without really trying.

Boy’s class is doing England and Button’s, France. At the risk of perpetrating xenophobic stereotypes of these countries, he has gone to school this morning as St George, she as a Parisian.

I give you The Frenchman and St George:

The Frenchman and St George::  Thanks to Ma, Ma SIL, Liz and The Husband, who all contributed in some way to these costumes.

:: Apologies to my fellow countrymen and any passing French folk! And any professional costume designers!

:: Button would not keep the beret at the appropriate jaunty angle.

:: Is is me or does Boy bear a passing resemblance to Baldrick in that helmet?

The Frenchman and St George:: I think I need to start saving for their therapy now!

 


48

Yesterday was my 48th birthday, and what fun we had.

Photo taken by Miss Button.  Fluffy hair courtesy of the hot weather. New dress finished just in time...full post to follow.

Photo taken by Miss Button.
Fluffy hair courtesy of the hot weather.
New dress finished just in time…full post to follow.

The Husband and kids snuck downstairs and left me for a luxurious lie-in.  All you mums out there know what a treat this is.  When I finally surfaced they brought me tea and I had a quiet half hour sipping and reading a book in peace.

Then…time to shower and dress without interruptions.  I didn’t think the day could get much better.

It did.

The parents joined us at lunch time and The Husband cooked up a storm on the barbecue. There was wine and carrot cake, which, with the warm sunshine, made for a perfect and perfectly relaxing day.

carrot cake

To top it all, I’d received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my lovely friends

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and Ma, Ma & Pa In Law, and The Husband had joined forces to buy me a gift that I truly wanted but hadn’t even dared to hope for:

 

Yep…fabulous new camera lenses.  I’m working hard to learn to use my camera on Manual and these lenses had been recommended to me by the talented Amanda France.

I swear I had no idea I would get these and am beyond overjoyed.  I’m going to have much fun learning to use these as well.

Thank you all for such loveliness and such a wonderful day.  I’m so blessed.


Impromptu giveaway – a new winner

Sadly Erin hasn’t come forward to collect the pattern so I asked Mr Random.org to pick another winner.

He said “2″….so that’s you Annette Tirette.  Congratulations.

Please email me (hello at pendlestitches dot com) with your address and I’ll get this in the post to you.

sim2406


Stuff

Eugh…not much of any use going on here.

::  I’ve been feeling decidedly yucky over the last few days.  Very tired, faintly nauseous, headachy and just generally off-kilter.  Nothing serious but seriously annoying. I’ve been sleeping lots and am slowly getting back to my normal self.  I’m having a quiet day today knitting and watching The Last Station.  Hopefully that will do the trick.

last_station_xlg

::  I hope that I’m back to speed tomorrow because the floral dress still isn’t finished.  I really need to get my act together because I’ve a few social events coming up this week and would love to wear the dress for at least one of them!

::  Having been very much inspired by Kristin and her recent birthday-present-to-self, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and ordered myself an early gift.

Can we say….Lotta from Sweden?

lotta

 

I need to do a full post on these because I’m so delighted with them and the service.

::  The pattern sale is going really well.  Thank you to everyone who’s bought a pattern.  There are still a few left so please have a look and see if there’s anything you’d like.

::  Erin hasn’t been in touch about The Impromptu Giveaway.  If I haven’t heard from her by close of play on Wednesday, I’ll pick another winner.

::   My head is spinning with ideas that have come on the back of the Wardrobe Architect series.  I’m well aware I’ve not completed my series of posts, but hope to remedy that in the next week or so.  It’s be enlightening, to say the very least.

::  I’m currently (finally???) knitting Aislinn by Amy Herzog and using a Custom Fit pattern.

aislinn-1

I’m really enjoying the experience and the cardigan is looking smashing.  I’ve done the sleeves and the back and am halfway up the first front, so hope to have a full review for you very soon.  I know that there’s quite a bit of confusion about Custom Fit so hopefully I’ll be able to shed a little bit of light on the matter.

::  My invigilating duties for this exam season finish this week.  I’ll be awfully glad to have all my time back to myself and plan to catch up with some sewing of the remaining stash.

::  Speaking of stash…I’m planning to get the fabric that I’m selling photographed and up her for sale, again within the next week or so.  Stay tuned.

Ok…so now you know that I’ve not fallen off the edge of the world, I’m off to the sofa for tea, movie and knitting.  The best cure I think.

Hope you’re well.  I’ll be back soon.