A Liebster Award!

What a lovely surprise it was earlier today when Shauni from The Magnificent Thread nominated me for a Liebster Award! How lovely to hear that people do like reading my blog!

The award is given by bloggers to other bloggers, and is a great way to share blog appreciation and also discover new blogs along the way. Plus then there's the "pay it forward" element, meaning we get to nominate other blogs we love. Thank you so much to Shauni for nominating me! I love reading Shauni's blog too so I was thrilled she chose me as one of her Liebster nominees!

As part of receiving the Liebster Award, I have to share 11 facts about myself. Which is harder than it sounds. Anyway, I'm not sure how interesting they are but here they are!

1. I'm a Yorkshire lass born and bred, and very proud of my roots. I now live in South East London and love love love it!

2. My Grandad was a tailor, but sadly he died when I was quite young so I never got to share my passion for sewing with him. My mum told me of how he made her unpick a checked coat she was making when she was a teenager because the checks didn't match across the seams - I bet I would have loved sewing with Grandad! Sounds like he kept mum on the straight and narrow.

3. I am a hoarder. I can find a potential use for anything, and a reason to keep anything at all. I live in a tiny flat and am really, really trying to only keep things that are truly going to be useful (or are beautiful or sentimental).

4. My first interaction with my now husband was chucking a rubber at him. We were sitting the entrance exam for the music college we ended up meeting at (we passed the exam it seems) and he whispered "Has anybody got a rubber?". I am SUCH a goody-goody and refused to talk in the exam, so just chucked my rubber his way, and was very annoyed when it rolled under the piano and I never got it back. Grr. About 18 months later, we met through a friend at college, and didn't realise that we'd almost kind of met in the exam until years later. That was over 12 years ago! Now he's my husband and he still hasn't replaced that bloody rubber.

5. I'm an actor and singer. I trained at the Guildford School of Acting and have done a mixed bag of acting work since graduating in 2009. Mostly musical theatre, a play or two and a tiny bit of TV (anybody see Bloody Tales on National Geographic back in 2013? No? Never mind...)

6. I'm also in a band! The Pink Champagne Sisters, a close harmony swing trio with an awesome four piece band. I've got to say, the band has really saved my sanity as I battle on in the hugely competitive and unpredictable world of acting. I'm so proud of what we've achieved with the band, and the fact that we've created it and we are in control of it is really empowering. And I flipping LOVE performing with the band, they're also some of my favourite people in the world.

Snap of one of my favourite Pink Champagne Sisters costumes

7. I have a serious phobia of birds and moths and butterflies. Basically anything that flaps.

8. I absolutely love tea and absolutely hate coffee. Yuk.

9. I love to read! I'm currently reading All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld, and am really enjoying it. It's beautifully written and paints such a clear picture of the world of the central character. I look forward to my commuting time when I do most of my reading!

10. I'm a little bit obsessed with lettering, script and type. I've been learning calligraphy - it's harder than it looks but I'm loving learning how to do it. It's so satisfying and therapeutic.

11. Until very recently I thought the word "werewolf" was pronounced "weer-wolf". Weirdo.

Onto my nominations!

I would like to nominate Betty Stitchup, one of my absolute favourite blogs. I love the things Coo sews, she has awesome vintage style.

Also the Gingerthread Girl, who makes really lovely clothes and always inspires me with her beautiful top-notch photographs!

Have a gander at their blogs, if you're anything like me I'm sure you'll love what you find there. If my nominees choose to accept, they need to share 11 facts about themselves, and pass on the Liebster love by nominating some of their favourite blogs (some state that it must be blogs with under 200 followers. I didn't worry too much about that, though).

Right, I think I'll get back to watching the gymnastics and sewing. I've been working on my second quilt, and have half of my required blocks all sewn up. I'm not sure how long it's going to take me to finish it, we'll see!

Made Up dress: striped Simplicity 1873

Black and white and read all over dress

I finished my Made Up pledge! Only a month late.... Oops!

Let's gloss over that lateness (and the two weeks it has been waiting to be blogged). I'm thrilled to have supported Made Up and The National Literacy Trust, such a great charity. Plus Karen's call to arms spurred me on to FINALLY make this dress which has been planned for about a year. I'm so glad I've finally made it.

As I mentioned before, I'm having a big old clear out at the moment, which has led to me enforcing a fabric buying ban on myself until I've used up all the lengths I have (I have a plan for most pieces) and I have to say I've actually enjoyed being restricted in this way. That sounds a bit odd, doesn't it, but I've enjoyed it because it has seen me complete projects that have been planned for ages. Somehow it's easier to get around to them without the distraction of new stuff! Plus, you know, there's the money saving aspect too. I am a bit skint at the moment, and it feels great to still be able to satisfy my sewing craving with minimal (new) expense!  

Back to this particular dress...

The pattern is Simplicity 1873 by Cynthia Rowley  which I got free with Sew magazine about an age ago. I've been stalking lots of lovely versions of this dress online, and decided I really wanted to try the little pleated puff sleeves and the skirt pleats which have many a good review online. So I made view A, and after a quick toile made the following adjustments:
- raised the bust darts 1". It's slightly too much, need to lower slightly for the next version. Also need to extend the waist darts on bodice front slightly. 
- lowered the neckline by 1 and a half inches the whole way round. I liked the high neckline in theory, and love it on other people, but it didn't look right on me for some reason. I much prefer this lower neckline but could probably have gone somewhere in the middle. 
- took a wedge out of centre front neckline to fix gaping 
- added back neckline darts for the same reason 
- lengthened the bodice slightly

I went with the longer skirt length option, because the short one is super short. I don't mind short skirts but I'm not that into short AND full. This silhouette works much better for me. 

The fabric was bought ages and ages ago from Regency Rags on eBay. It was really reasonably priced, so I can't complain there, and is of lovely quality. I made a neckline facing rather than a lining for the bodice of this dress, as I wanted to take advantage of the 3% stretch in this fabric (a cotton/Lycra mix). The weight of the fabric is really nice and not only is it opaque enough to wear unlined, it also holds the pleats and skirt shape really well, so I'm chuffed with that. I stabilised the waist seam with twill tape so it didn't stretch out too much. 

I made my first ever hem facing for this dress too. For some reason I couldn't get the thought of a nice, deep hem out of my head for this dress, but I didn't want to lose the length that I already was quite happy with, so I made a hem facing and I blooming love it. It may just become my new favourite hemming method.

My lovely hem facing. And yes, I pattern matched the facing too. Too far?
Stripe matching. It's a bit of a pain, it definitely takes a while and on this dress caused me to unpick and redo a few seams with gritted teeth, BUT it was totally worth the extra time at each stage. I loathe cutting out, and it took such a long time hunched over my fabric on the living room floor to get the placement and stripe matching just right before cutting out that I seriously doubted my sanity in choosing a pattern with 5 skirt pieces for this bold, stripey fabric. I matched the stripes across all the skirt seams, and the bodice side seams and the centre back. Unfortunately this means I couldn't have my nice black stripe all the way round the waist seam (on the bottom of the bodice and the top of the skirt) that I wanted, but matching the stripes along the length of the skirt seams was much more important to me, and actually I like the kind of cascading effect this gives the stripes across the skirt pleats. It took a lot of deciding which way to have the stripes running on the sleeves and I think in the end I chose right. 

Stripe matching across one of the skirt seams

I made a big error with the zip. The pattern calls for an invisible zip and that would definitely have been the best option here. But I didn't have one "in stock", and dammit, I wanted to finish my dress. So I used the ordinary black zip I had, and decided to put it in lapped so as to cause minimal disturbance to my lovely stripes continuing over the centre back. It has worked, but my stitching on the zip is not the neatest in the entire world and it does bother me a bit that this is the only truly "homemade" looking part on the dress (in my opinion. You might think the whole dress looks a dog and screams home made!). It's not quite bad enough for me to want to take the entire zip out and redo it but I may redo the offending bit of stitching. If I've got the patience.

Anyway I really, really like my new dress. I feel a bit like I should be carrying a swag bag and walking on my tiptoes in it but that's all part of the fun.

Aren't the little pleated puff sleeves fun?

Trying to show you the pleated sleeve properly!
The day I finished it I wore it to the theatre to see Pure Imagination (a celebration of the music of Leslie Bricusse) and loooooooved wearing it. I can never wait long to wear a new hand sewn dress!

Instagram snap before I headed out to the theatre. Worn with Hell Bunny cardigan

I like this pattern, especially the skirt pleats, and I did love working with cotton sateen. No sewing has happened since I finished this a few weeks ago (boo) but I'm about to do some cutting out now so that's all good! I'm throwing all my sewing plans out of the window, since I quite fancy making another quilt. 

Hope you're all having a lovely Sunday! x