Monday, 17 March 2014

The love and hate of dressmaking

This dress and I have a history. The fabric and I first met in a Margate bric-a-brac shop just after Christmas. We thought we'd get on well. Then I noticed the pattern in the February issue of Burda style. We introduced ourselves over a cup of tea and decided to give it a go. The dress progressed, friendship blossomed. All was going so well. Until, dress completed, we had a major argument during the first proper fitting when it became apparent that instead of being a lovely, low-fuss, 60s inspired shift, she was actually a big brown swirly sack. With pockets. And frilly sleeves. 

Feet were stamped, nasty words were said, we decided to never speak to each other again. 

Then, after a good night's sleep and a bit of perspective, I decided to be the bigger person (after all, I was actually the person in this relationship). We talked it out and  realised that instead of making alterations, the only thing to do was to take the whole dress apart, cut it out in the next size down, and then, finally stitch it back together again. 

Two nights later, dress finally finished,  the relationship was well on its way to being mended. It's been hard work, but I feel I've grown as a person, while the dress has, well, become a smaller but better dress.

In the end, it was worth it.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Retro tunic

There's no denying it, Esther is most definitely not our baby anymore. Making this tunic reminded me how big and grown-up I felt Freya was when I made her a dress from the same pattern a couple of years ago. I'm starting to understand that thing they say about second children never really growing up in their parent's mind. It's something we've got to watch out for, I know - to see Esther as she really is, right now - not just in relation to her older sister or to our own sense of her as the "baby". 

Anyway, the tunic looks looks nice too.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Grown up adventure

February was a momentous month in the Loulabelle household, because the grown-up Loulabelle's got to go away on a little trip. All. By. Themselves.

Turns out sleeping in a gypsy caravan, with a view of a helicopter, a London bus and a groovy 70s caravan,  is pretty awesome.  Mice ate our bread, and the gypsy bed was half a foot too short for Mr Loulabelle, but I'm still glad we had this particular adventure and didn't just go for a luxury B&B. It's more wierd camping than glamping, but Blackberry Wood in Ditchling was just the right kind of odd-ball, slightly scruffy-round-the-edges place we were looking for.

Fuelled up on a bacon sandwich made from the bits of bread the mice didn't fancy, we spend an epic day in Brighton - vintage bric-a-brac browsing, pub dipping, movie watching and food eating for a wonderful 10 hour stretch.

Snoopers Paradise and To Be Worn Again did us proud. We left the South Downs on the Sunday several pounds (stirling) lighter, several pounds (in weight) heavier, and with a lot more holding of hands than when we got arrived.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Le weekend

Good stuff happened this weekend, including this..
Ken Law print from 60s of Hampsted High Street via H is for Home. Our new favourite bit of wall candy.

Squidgy yarn, tiny little going-to-take-ages-to-knit yarn, and tortoise fabric. If I was a tortoise, I would join this tortoise gang. For real.

Happy feet, and quilted work in progress. Already getting use even though it's not finished. A good sign!

Four special words: snack in a den!

Thursday, 13 February 2014


The last 3 projects I've knitted have all been seamless.

And that my friends, may be the smuggest sounding sentence I've ever written! Of course, I mean seamless in the without-seams sense, rather than the "oh it went so terribly well" sense.

It all started with the experimental socks that I knitted for my brother - it was a last minute Christmas present dash, so no pics, but he tells me they stay up and do the things socks are supposed to, so that's good. I was pretty certain that of everyone I know, my brother is the most likely to be pleased by an experimental sock.

Then came this cardi for Esther. The pattern is the Seren Seamless cardigan from Katy Ferrall aka Ceradka. It was a super quick knit and had enough going on with thte yoke to keep things interseting. I used a cotton yarn which I think was probably a mistake as it's a bit more "hangy" that I'd like - especially the front hem. And the button bands are not my best work ever, but it looks nice on and whiled away a good few episodes of Masters of Sex.   It's also (I have just noticed) in Made by Loulabelle corporate colours. Good stuff.

The current seamless knit is a tank-top for Freya. Seamless it seems, is the way to go!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Perennial Dress

I've had the Sew Pony Perennial Dress pattern up my sleeve for a while now. It's nostalgic and pretty and just what my girls are drawn to.

The Heather Ross Briar Rose frog print fabric made me buy it before I  had a project in mind. But, for once, instead of going for just a metre, I decided to do the sensible thing and get two so I actually have a decent amount to do something with.  I toyed with the idea of making the girls matching dresses - for about 1 minute. I know they would love it, but I can't bring myself to go down that route, so Freya got the Perennual frog print dress, and Esther will get something else froggy but not samey later.

One word that makes me less than 100% happy: shirring... Oh little stretchy thread of elastic, why won't you be my friend?

We got there in the end, via a lot of tugging and a not so pretty wrong-side, but I just can't work out why it never quite goes to plan. All of the sewing people in the world of You Tube and blogland make shirring look so easy. I know it's easy, but, like my scones and yorkshire puddings, it never quite works for me. sigh.


There's a lot going on here - swimming frogs, gingham, pockets, mini pom pom trim, covered buttons, even (shudder) shirring. But I like to embrace the busy look! I guess, much as I love minimal, I'm just no good at it.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Kimono tunic

I'm cheating a bit really as I made this tunic a while ago, but I'm on a roll posting about things I've made for the girls, so thought I'd share this too. I first made a more traditional style baby kimono top just before Esther arrived. Since then, I've made a few different versions of the classic, straight wrap around version. This one is my latest kimono based creation. It uses the same basic kimono shape for the bodice, but fastens with buttons at the back and has a pleated 'skirt'. I was keeping my fingers crossed while I was making this  - I wasn't sure if Esther would look a bit swamped, but it turned out just as I'd hoped. It has a nice relaxed feel - looks comfy but cool and works really well in the soft drapey brushed cotton.

I've got plans afoot to make a download patten for this style, so you'll probably be seeing a few more versions over the next few months!


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