May 14, 2016

Where I wrap up the first part of MMMy16 and some big personal news

Hello there.

So, almost half of May has passed by (say what?), and I feel it is time to spend a few words on Me Made May.

First thing to say, is that I have spent one week of holidays in Edinburgh and in the amazing Isle of Skye, in Scotland. I am in love with this country and its people. The trip has only confirmed this feeling.
Apart from my rumblings about Scottish people and food and drinks and places, one week of holidays means a compact travel wardrobe. Enter my Ginger jeans.

Second thing to say, is that I have gained a few kilos more. While this is not the first time, I feel that these particular kilos put me on the other side of my personal limit. I am convinced that feeling pretty is quite a personal decision and boundaries are best when self set. One of my gurus on the topic is the character Agrado from the movie All about my Mother (by Almodòvar). I don't remember the exact quotation but the idea is that "we feel authentic when we resemble to the idea we have of ourselves". I believe this is true, and my idea of myself involves me being able to climb a flight of stairs without being out of breath, so something has to change from my current situation. For the first time in my life I feel motivated to actually do something serious about my health, I have spoken about this with a couple of doctors I trust, and both have suggested me to try Weight Watchers. Chéri has been encouraging about this, too, and reminded me that whatever I do to my body I do to our happiness together in terms of health and hopefully long life together (more on that at the end of the post). The same goes for him, of course: we want each other to be healthy and happy together. We had a recent scare about that (everything turned out to be fine) so we are appreciating the idea of just being healthy.
Of course I am not saying a few kilos more means lack of health, far from me to be the judge of that. I am just saying, that my personal idea of myself involves an active body with a few kilos less, and kilos are only an external sign, not the main point of my personal consideration. Anyway, tomorrow I am going to my first WW meeting and let's see what happens.

Sorry for the personal unload, I didn't plan this post this way, but then the words just came out, and I have decided to leave it like that, since it is indeed a reflection on my body, my style, my confidence and my clothes. Perfectly in line with Me Made May rationale.
Speaking of which, more kilos mean that most of my dresses and trousers do not fit anymore. Enter my Ginger jeans.

I have not presented them on the blog yet, but by now you have seen them a lot in my MMMay pictures. You might be wondering if I even own other trousers, and the answer is yes but they don't fit me anymore... These particular jeans are instead very forgiving (I am sure they are one size bigger than necessary) but baggy. If I ever make a blog post on them, you will see what I mean.

So well, the first part of MMMay has been a lot of jeans and tops, and a couple of dresses which still fit me. Also, I have cheated a couple of days, wearing something which was not handmade, and that was a cute but large tunic dress chinched with a waist-tie. It is a really old dress which I have no intention to throw away, even if the neckline is very wide and a bit annoying and un-practical. I guess this means I need to make a sway dress which can be dressed up or down, with or without waist-tie (I am looking at you, Sway dress by Papercut) and more simple dresses for everyday decontracted use (Adelaide by Seamwork, for example).
I am not planning on making new trousers or a pair of better fitting jeans, since I want to wait one month more and see if I can remove those (in)famous kilos we were talking about, just because I don't want to waste time or money in something (hopefully) transitional.

One last note to sum up this first part of May 2016, is that in the magnificent Isle of Skye, Chéri officially proposed to me! Pinch me because I still don't believe it! I keep looking at my beautiful ring and smiling, I am engaged and I don't believe it yet! This has nothing to do with clothes and maybe nothing to do with this blog, but this is important news which has changed my life, so I feel like stopping people in the streets and telling them! Sharing here with you is the minimum I could do!
If you are interested, in the future I can give updates on our wedding plans, but for now let me just enjoy this new-to-me feeling.

Until next time,

May 12, 2016

Where I tested one Afternoon (or two)

Hello there!

Back in February, I was lucky enough to be selected by Jennifer Lauren to test her updated Afternoon Blouse and Shift Dress pattern.

I say lucky because this was the first time I ever tested a pattern (yeah), and especially because I got to have in my hands a great pattern, or rather two.
Trust me I am not saying this just because I was a tester, they truly are great patterns.

The Afternoon Blouse has been a classic of independent patterns for a while now, and Jennifer decided to update it to bigger size range and with a complimentary shift dress featuring the same style: choice of two decorative necklines and 1940s-inspired kimono sleeves.
Yes, these are free updates! If you have already bought the blouse pattern, you just have to send Jennifer your Etsy or Paypal receipts and she will send you the updates by email.

Well, onto the dress now!
The pictures you see here are of the tested garments, and you can see everything is already pretty much great in terms of fitting and style, Jennifer is so talented. The final product shouldn't be much different for my size range.
Speaking of size, these patterns are designed for a D cup, so I have skipped my usual FBA (hurray!) and went directly with grading: 14 at the shoulders, 16 at bust, 18 at waist, 16 at the hips. I think it worked quite well, what do you think?
Let me tell you she has put much effort in larger size grading so expect this dress to fit you like a glove and grace your curves.

The pattern takes its name by the time you need to actually make it, and this is totally true: in one afternoon I have made one dress and one blouse, and wore the blouse to dinner with friends!
I can assure you a beginner can tackle this pattern: there are few pattern pieces and it comes with thorough instructions. As a tester I can assure Jennifer put a huge effort to make the instructions clear, with schematics and explanations.

There are no sleeves to set, and the only tricky points are the pivot point at the centre bust (which I kind of messed up in the blouse, but it's my fault 'cause I was sewing polka dots in the dark, you do the math), and the back boxpleat or elastic casing for the dress. Both those steps are explained in their every detail and everyone can easily follow and make something beautiful.

The dress is in a medium weight polyester from Toto Tissus in Toulouse, and the blouse in a light weight cotton, from Fabric Land in Bristol, present from Chéri, already used here.

I love the simple plain style of this pattern, I have been wearing both garments since I have made them, at work and during the weekends. They are comfortable (no waistband, I tell you!), but super cute. All my friends are in love with them! Even Chéri approved, and by now you know that his approval is not granted for whatever garment I sew.

Wearing these garments for almost three months now, I am impressed by their flattering shape: you should know by now that I fear shapeless silhouettes, but this pattern checks all the boxes by being extremely well drafted, comfortable, cute and quick to sew. I wear it and I feel instantly pretty, and this is something to cherish, n'est pas?

As you can imagine I will make more of them: the Afternoon blouse and shift dress is a great opportunity to showcase fabric, and to make something instantly rewarding.
As for the central button, in both garments I have decided to omit it because I couldn't decide which style I wanted for it. I ended up using decorative broaches which I remove before washing and I can change easily to match with my outfit.

Thank you Jennifer for giving me the opportunity to test such great patterns, and for being patient with me blogging about them 3 months later, sorry!