It’s all about Mimi, and me!

Mimi blouse from Love at First StitchI’m sure you are all very familiar with Tilly and the ButtonsLove at First Stitch book. It comes very recommended if you haven’t got it already. Well this is the Mimi blouse from said gorgeous book.

Mimi was indeed love at first sight and I (shamefully) started working on it way back in September last year before it landed on the to-do pile!  But it’s finished now and it’s fab, and I love it so that’s all that matters, right?!

The fabric is viscose, I’m sure, and was a great charity shop find a couple of years ago. Don’t you just love it when you already ‘just happen to have’ that perfect fabric for the job. Better still when it only cost a couple of quid. And better more still when that couple of quid goes to a good cause.

It gathered well, presses beautifully, yet doesn’t crease. Magic, that is!

mimi blouse and love at first stitch book

It was lovely working from the book instead of a giant fold out set of instructions. The steps are crystal clear and the photography is so so beautiful. Inspiration counts for a lot these days, when I’m run ragged at the end of the day. It completely takes you by the hand and leads you into a dreamworld of having more hours than you actually have and makes sewing possible! And that really is magic!

The buttons are properly vintage and are the same that I used for my vintage wrap blouse. I’ve used all but one now. Best save that for an emergency button loss!

mimi blouse buttons

I wondered if they were a bit big but I do like the way they contrast and don’t go MIA among the spots.

The collar is definitely my favourite part. Much like the one on my By Hand London Sophia dress. And I love the little tucks on the sleeves. Which incidentally are finished perfectly with a facing.

Despite all the pretty pictures and faultless instructions I did manage to make a booboo though. Totally my fault. Instead of just going with my usual body measurements, I first checked out the finished garment measurements which seem huge if you don’t take into consideration the gathering, which I didn’t. And so I went down a size. It isn’t blatantly obvious. Only when I put my arms up or shoulders back do the gathers on the yoke poof out a bit. I don’t practise the best posture tbh so I think I’ll get away with it!

Tilly and the Buttons Mimi Blouse

I’m all for tucking a shirt in usually but I like that this one can be a little more casual. It has a great shape and is everso comfy whilst retaining a bit of retro chic methinks!

mimi blouse back view

All the above photos were taken by my lovely Daniel who never ever complains. Even when he has things to do himself. He took these with minutes to spare before he rushed off to his soundcheck. And all I had to do in exchange was sew a button on his coat. Best I finish his waistcoat soon, hey?! You can see more of his pics here. They’re not all about me!

But today was totally all about me. This morning I went for an actual run. I say ‘actual’ because it usually amounts to a fast walk! I ran the fastest and the furthest in 3 weeks of practising and it felt amazing.

I then got to shoot my Mimi with Daniel and had lunch with my little family before everyone left the house for the day on separate missions. I found myself unexpectedly home alone.

So I uploaded my lovely Mimi photos and considered going to see Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum. Twitter warned of long queues but I went anyway. Because I could! And on my own, which was blissful and meant I could read and absorb every word and gaze longingly for a long time and hang around as long as I liked. And I did! With only 2 minutes max of queueing time. Oh the power of a V&A membership card and the joy of living in London.

I will definitely be going again, and again and probably again. So I will spare you the breathtaking detail as I’m sure that many of you will want to experience that yourselves.

I am home now with tea and I have blogged too. And that makes me happier still.

 

Sabrina, checked and tested!

Remember Sabrina Duncan? She was my favourite Charlie’s Angel. She was the leader, the rebellious one. Not the one who spent any amount of time on her flicks. Nor ever to be heard complaining about a broken fingernail and her martial arts skills were unrivalled and unhampered by flares. So cool.

What’s that got to do with the price of fish you may well ask… Well this is my Sabrina dress. This is By Hand London’s latest lady and my new go to dress. Not named in honour of my Sabrina as far as I know but in a roundabout way she led the slightly unorthodox approach to this dress.

Sabrina dress in kensington

When I was asked if I’d like to pattern-test this one it was a no-brainer. Not only was the dress named after one of my childhood heroines, it had princess seams that presented a perfect project to utilise some of that inspiration that I sucked from the JPG exhibition. A clash of the Tartans!

Not anywhere near as edgy as JPG himself but I love it all the same.
A great chance to kick start the Autumn wardrobe too.

Minerva kindly supplied the fabric and I knew exactly where I was heading to search for the cloth in question. I’d been trawling recently and had seen these two tartans together. Blackwatch and Royal Stewart – such a great contrast that had to work.

Incidentally this is a poly viscose blend. Apparent from the prewash that future laundering of this dress would be a breeze; Hardly creases; A joy to iron. In fact if hung up to dry properly you could almost get away with not ironing at all.

bhl sabrina dress kensington station

I have a few nitpicky personal fitting issues to sort, namely a sway back adjustment and since studying the photos, I think there is some excess in the upper bust. Even though I made a muslin – I was never going to cut right into that fabulous fabric without testing the waters first!– I didn’t pay proper attention to a perfect fit. Plus its quite tricky when you are up late on your own and don’t have eyes in the back of your head. So with that aside, I made this dress straight from the packet. from one size, no adjustments.

It does fray, this fabric, especially when over handled. But given how the seams are pressed sideways, trimmed and overlocked seams were defo the way forward.

You may well ask why I would want to take on the added pressure of pattern-testing. After all, its not like I’ve got any spare time on my hands. Kids and all the outside school activities that get involved in, full time plus overtime self employedness, and contrary to the belief of my kids I don’t employ fairies to cook clean and bottle-wash and of course my night time activities are sewing! It’s not like it’s paid and its not like I’m given any lead time. And so I have even asked myself the same question. But in writing up this post the ‘why” suddenly presented itself to me in a duh sort of way.

sabrina dress stained glass

I have a list longer than both arms of projects I want to sew. Dresses, jackets, suits and hats. Mostly all of them are inspired by a ready-made pattern that have a ready-made image on the front or in the mag. It’s quite difficult to think outside the box when you are presented with something that fundamentally works already. But when you are given a computer generated line drawing or better still a rough fashion sketch of a dress that isn’t even invented yet, that’s more than enough to shake up all those creative juices and set my brain on fire with ideas, mostly above my station I might add. Leather, feathers, fur, gold lame. It doesn’t matter that most of these aren’t realised. They will be in time. It matters that I’m focussing on the textile rather than the design. That bit has already been done for me in this case by the By Hand London Ladies. So I can concentrate on what fabric will work best which will have greater structure, beautiful drape or sharp enough edges to carry it off properly. It excites me. That is all.

bhl sabrina dress phonebox

I don’t think I pushed the boat out too far with this dress but its a start on my journey of discovery. When I presented my Photoshopped image to Vicki at Minerva she was really excited to see the end result and said she’d never seen those two fabrics put together before.

I’d like to try some leather in place of the Blackwatch in the future but even a pvc might be as good. I think Ms Duncan is calling for some added tomboy!

The dress itself is such a flattering and simple shape. Nicely fitted to the waist and charmingly flared to just above the knee. Its also a great base for incorporating a collar, changing a neckline adding some bodice detail.

sabrina dress tube stn

It sews up real quick. Just be careful around the bust shape and watch out for puckers. That happened on my muslin.

It’s unlined. Just has a bodice facing which is all you need really for a medium weight woven. Doesn’t stick to my tights either!

The hem should be kept small to avoid gathering the excess in the flare and I would say that was the trickiest bit.

I kid you not its had more wears than any dress in my wardrobe and it’s the newest!

The above shots were taken in and around South Kensington and at the Victoria and Albert museum. That’s my favourite London hangout too by the way!

sabrina dress, victoria and albert museum

We were child- and fancy-free and popped in to see the Horst exhibition. Perfect inspiration for some glamourous dresses and stunningly lit fashion photography. Just Google Horst photographs for an eyeful of awesomness!

sabrina dress at the victoria and albert museum

Photography Daniel James Photographic
Shoes Lola Ramona
Handbag: FARA Ealing