Wonderland Dresses

Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Alice in Wonderland, Handmade Dresses

The latest Rifle Paper Co fabric range for Cotton & Steel is my dream collection and I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release since it was announced last year! Inspired by Anna Bond’s beautiful illustrations for the 150th anniversary edition of Alice in Wonderland, the Wonderland collection is simply beautiful and perfect for fellow Alice fans (you might remember I already have one extravagant Alice border print dress in my handmade wardrobe!). After much deliberation, and being completely unable to narrow it down to just one favourite print, I ordered both the Cameo print in rose and the Wonderland print in periwinkle to make myself a couple of wonderful Wonderland dresses.

Do you suppose she’s a wildflower?

Handmade Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Pink Roses, Alice in Wonderland

Since these fabrics are so beautiful they really do speak for themselves, so I’ll keep the talk to a minimum! I used the pink cameo print to make a sleeveless princess seamed dress with a full gathered skirt, and wore it here with my Tatty Devine ruby slippers necklace (mixing up my favourite childhood stories!) and Liberty x French Sole ballet pumps. A very pretty dress with a definite vintage feel!

Handmade Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Pink Roses, Alice in Wonderland

Handmade Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Pink Roses, Alice in Wonderland

Handmade Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Pink Roses, Alice in Wonderland

Liberty French Sole Ballet Pumps, Handmade Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Pink Roses, Alice in Wonderland

Handmade Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Pink Roses, Alice in Wonderland

Handmade Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Pink Roses, Alice in Wonderland

Handmade Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Pink Roses, Alice in Wonderland

I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it

Handmade Christine Haynes Emery Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Periwinkle Blue, Alice in Wonderland

This print immediately stood out from the collection because of the similarity to the book cover, and the gorgeous shade of periwinkle blue, which is the same as the floral Rifle Paper Co dress from the last fabric collection. I chose to make a short sleeved Emery dress, but with a slightly longer and fuller gathered skirt than usual to make it extra fancy.  I wore it here with my favourite glittery Fairytale Collars, red tights and gold Orla Kiely for Clarks shoes to pick up on the beautiful metallic details in the fabric. I’m always drawn to any fabric with a metallic element!

Handmade Christine Haynes Emery Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Periwinkle Blue, Alice in Wonderland

Handmade Christine Haynes Emery Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Periwinkle Blue, Alice in Wonderland

Handmade Christine Haynes Emery Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Periwinkle Blue, Alice in Wonderland

Handmade Christine Haynes Emery Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Periwinkle Blue, Alice in Wonderland

Handmade Christine Haynes Emery Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Periwinkle Blue, Alice in Wonderland

Handmade Christine Haynes Emery Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Periwinkle Blue, Alice in Wonderland

Handmade Christine Haynes Emery Dress in Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Fabric for Cotton & Steel, Periwinkle Blue, Alice in Wonderland

As expected, I am so in love with these two dresses and I have already worn each of them for special occasions!

Lucy x

 

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Birthday Dresses For Mum!

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Today is my lovely Mum’s birthday and for her gift this year I surprised her with two rather nice handmade dresses, if I do say so myself! Mum is almost as obsessed with pretty dresses as I am so I’ve made her a few over the past year. For her birthday, I settled on a nautical dress and a strawberry print dress, both made out of fabrics from the latest Cotton & Steel collections. After browsing through the look book for the new collections, I really liked the sample dresses made up in these two prints which I knew Mum would love so my decision was made! I bought all of the fabrics from Miss Matatabi on Etsy as I couldn’t seem to find a UK seller who stocked both of these prints.

Nautical But Nice Dress

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First up, I made a very nautical dress using the Waves print from the “Kujira & Star” collection by Rashida Coleman-Hale, which I lined with the complimentary Whale Dance print from the same collection. The concept behind this collection is so cute – it tells the story of a baby whale called Kujira and his best friend, a starfish named Star, who longs to see the ocean beyond his reef, so Kujira takes him on a tour around the waters of Japan. So charming, I do love prints that tell a story. I particularly liked the wave print as it’s a very simple but effective pattern and has a soft modern look. As always with Cotton & Steel, the fabric is a lovely weight and a dream to sew with.

I used the Emery pattern for this dress as I have made it for Mum before and knew it would fit well, but I wanted to adapt the neckline to add a more nautical looking collar. Mum had chosen a gorgeous dress from Emily & Fin as her birthday gift from my Dad, and so I decided to try and copy the collar since I knew how much she loved the shape. I traced off the neckline and collar from the Emily & Fin dress and adapted the Emery bodice pieces to incorporate the new neckline. It was a bit of a gamble, but it paid off as the dress turned out exactly how I hoped!

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I also pleated the skirt to mimic the pleating on the Emily & Fin dress. I find pleating really hard to do when the pattern doesn’t already give me notches to follow. I always hope I’ve calculated everything correctly but at the end it doesn’t line up and I have to start again, so this part was a little frustrating! But worth the effort as I think the pleats create the right shape for this dress.

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I bought some blue bias binding to use as a trim, stitching it flat around the edge of the collar and the hem, and then added a blue exposed lace zip to finish. I think the blue details really add to the nautical feel of the dress and make it very cute!

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I’m pleased to report Mum loved the dress so much she put it on immediately and it fits her perfectly – she looks absolutely fab in it!

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Strawberries Dress

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For the second dress, I chose the Strawberry print in navy from the absolutely adorable “Yours Truly” collection by Kim Kight, and lined it with a red polka dot cotton. Mum loves strawberries and always picks things up with a strawberry pattern, so I knew this would be up her street. For some reason this print was really hard to photograph – I’m blaming the dark weekend we’ve had! I promise it’s even lovelier in real life.

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I made a princess seamed bodice with a scooped neckline, and a full gathered skirt. I also added the bow from the Emery dress pattern for a little bit of extra cuteness.

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I used a contrasting red lace zip, my usual finishing touch! I don’t have a picture of Mum wearing this dress yet but she loves it and it fits very well. So all in all, a very successful gift!

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We’ve had a lovely day out and popped to the Trafford Centre in Manchester with my Dad, where we had lunch at Est Est Est and did a spot of shopping (mostly in Cath Kidston!). Mum had quite a few compliments on her dress and lovely outfit! Here we are being ladies who lunch!

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Happy Birthday Mum!

Lucy x

Making Skirts Into Dresses

On a recent review of my wardrobe, I realised I have two very lovely skirts which I wasn’t getting much wear out of, but not because I didn’t love the prints. They are in fact two of my favourites, especially because Michael helped me to choose them. I just don’t really wear skirts as I never feel as comfortable in them as dresses, and I like the fact that a dress is an instant outfit. So I thought I ‘d see if I could adapt each of these skirts into dresses and get them into more regular rotation!

Mid Century Lindy Bop Skirt to By Hand London Kim Dress

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I bought this skirt from Lindy Bop a couple of years ago after instantly falling in love with the bold, mid-century inspired print. It wasn’t available as a dress, but I liked it so much I chose the skirt anyway.

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As it was a very full gathered skirt there was plenty of fabric to play with, so I managed to cut out both a By Hand London Kim bodice and an Emery skirt. And so the skirt became this dress!

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I happened to have some yellow piping in my stash so I used it to highlight the princess seams in the bodice and the waist seam. And as I didn’t have enough fabric to be able to pattern match across the seams, I hoped adding piping might break up the seam line so it wouldn’t matter if the pattern didn’t quite line up!

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To finish it off, I added a blue lace exposed zip. I’m very pleased with the finished dress, and I think it shows off the fabulous print even better than the skirt!

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Palava Farmer’s Market Skirt to By Hand London Flora Dress

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It’s no secret that I love Palava and their beautiful story telling dresses. When they released their Farmer’s Market collection a few years ago, I treated myself to this skirt since I couldn’t stretch to the dress at the time. I have worn it a couple of times, but not nearly as often as my other Palava dresses.

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When I spotted an apron made in the same material for a very reasonable price in Palava’s last sale, I snapped it up thinking I could use the extra material to make a bodice to attach to the skirt.

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I chose the By Hand London Flora bodice as I love both the shape and the fit and thought it would complement the skirt. The square neckline is great for showing off a statement necklace, like this cheese & biscuit beauty by Hello Sunshine.

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I took the waistband off the skirt and gathered the main fabric to attach it to the bodice. It’s slightly shorter than my usual knee length, but I think it creates a cute shape.

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I’m so pleased to have created a more wearable outfit using this fabric. There is so much detail in the fabulous border print, even the little girl at the market is wearing a Palava dress!

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Lucy x

A Weekend in London: What I Wore

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A handy consequence of having a slightly out of control fabric stash is that I can quickly whip up a whole new wardrobe for a weekend away! I planned a trip to London last weekend to catch up with friends and eat lots of cake, and I made a few fun outfits to wear while I was away.

Raised On a Diet of Broken Biscuits

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I’ve been so excited about this biscuity outfit ever since I first had the idea! I’d been planning to try out the Tilly & The Buttons Cleo dungaree dress pattern after seeing about 3 million amazing versions on Instagram, and had chosen the baby pink denim kit. Then the Nikki McWilliams Biscuit Babe patch I had separately ordered arrived (Instagram is a bad influence on my online shopping habit!) and it looked perfect against the pink denim! Which also reminded me that I had bought a Makower biscuit print fabric last year which was still loitering in my stash, and would complement the dungaree dress nicely, so the idea for the ultimate biscuit outfit was born!

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Although I mostly wear dresses, I also want to keep improving my sewing skills and I fancied trying to make a shirt. Generally speaking shirts don’t often fit me well, but I liked the curved lines of the Tilly & The Buttons Rosa shirt. A biscuit print shirt to match my dungaree dress seemed the ideal choice. It’s quite a full on outfit, but I’m not usually one to shy away from a bold print – go big or go home!

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I really enjoyed making both the shirt and the dungaree dress as I learned a few new techniques. As usual with Tilly’s patterns, both were easy to follow and fun to sew, and resulted in modern, wearable, comfortable garments with lovely feminine silhouettes. I’ll definitely be making more of both.

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I was a little concerned about sewing up the denim dungaree dress since I haven’t worked with denim before, but it was lovely to sew. I’d highly recommend one of the Cleo kits since it comes with absolutely everything you need to make the dress. I always find it frustrating when I want to start a project but haven’t got all of the bits I need (zips, linings, interfacing etc) so it was very handy to buy it all in one package! The Cleo is a surprisingly quick make, and very satisfying to sew.

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I’m quite proud of how the collar on my Rosa shirt turned out as it’s the first time I’ve assembled a collar stand. It’s pretty sharp for my first attempt if I do say so myself! I used a contrasting pink and red polka dot print for the inside of the collar stand and button band facing, and finished it off with one of my new mint green “Smile & Make”labels.

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I wore this outfit to meet up with Daisy of Make Thrift London for a fun day exploring Brick Lane. Daisy had whipped up her own dungarees to wear too so we wear proudly flying the flag for handmade!

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D’ya Wanna Cwoffee, You Schmuck?

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Next, I made a classic Christine Haynes Emery dress in this incredible retro coffee pot print by Melody Miller for Kokka, which I picked up from The Eternal Maker’s destash Instagram account last year. The Emery always seems to be my pattern of choice for fabrics I really love, as it looks so good in pretty much any print and I know it will get lots of wear. The fabric is a cotton/linen blend with a lovely weight, so I made a pleated skirt since the fabric holds the pleats well, and it creates a great full shape.

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I only had 2 metres of this fabric, and although it was a little wider than the usual quilting cotton width it was still a little tight to cut out an Emery with sleeves. So I’m quite pleased with my pattern matching across the sleeves and around the skirt given how little fabric I had to play with!

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I wore this dress to meet friends for coffee & brunch at the Palm Vaults cafe in Hackney. Yep, I like to be literal with my outfits – a coffee dress for a coffee date!

Bullseye Mark Two

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Have you ever had a fabric you love so much you bought it in more than one colour way? I already have a Mortmain dress in the navy version of this Cotton & Steel print, and when I spotted the pink/coral alternative in the sale on The Crafty Mastermind I decided I needed a second arrow dress. The print is particularly special to me as it’s one Michael chose for me last year. I’d created a Pinterest board for fabrics I loved which he had obviously been looking at, and he said I absolutely had to get the navy striped arrows, so I immediately ordered it. And now I get to have two versions.

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Since this will really be a dress for summer, I made a By Hand London Flora with a full gathered skirt. I think the dress has definite Palm Springs vibes, so I accessorised with ice cream, cacti and a mid century Palm Springs house!

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My favourite detail in this print is the metallic gold touches. I love any fabric with a hint of metallic.

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I wore this dress to meet my best friend Jo for dinner at All Star Lanes on Brick Lane. I think I’ll be wearing it lots more with my range of pastel Sun Jellies in the summer.

Beauty School Drop Out

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I could have purchased all of Melody Miller’s latest collection for Cotton & Steel, Jubilee. Ultimately I settled on the ladies with balloons and this make up print from The Fabric Fox, which has so much detail and great mid century design references, making it the perfect balance of girly and retro.

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I made a princess seamed bodice with a full gathered skirt for a classic vintage silhouette. It was a great match with this Tatty Devine harlequin necklace which I picked up in the sale after Christmas.

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I wore this dress for afternoon tea at Hoi Polloi with my lovely friend Livvie, and jazzed it up with some bright pink tights!

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I had a really lovely weekend in London, if a little exhausting! I snapped lots of photos of the places I visited which I’ll try and share in a separate post soon.

Lucy x

Let Me Tell You About My Boat

The Life Aquatic Team Zissou inspired Jumpsuit, Tilly & The Buttons Bettine / Marigold Jumpsuit, Wes Anderson

Following on from my Fantastic Mrs Fox dress, for my next Wes Anderson movie themed outfit I made a jumpsuit inspired by The Life Aquatic. It was Michael’s number one favourite Wes Anderson film, and certainly our most watched! I also finished up a model of the Belafonte Michael had planned, and there are some pictures later in this post.

The Life Aquatic Team Zissou inspired Jumpsuit, Belafonte Model Boat, Wes Anderson

Team Zissou Jumpsuit

The Life Aquatic Steve Zissou Wes Anderson

I decided to make a jumpsuit referencing the colours and details from the iconic Team Zissou uniforms, so I could be part of the crew and ready for the next expedition. All finished off with Michael’s red hat.

The Life Aquatic Team Zissou inspired Jumpsuit, Tilly & The Buttons Bettine / Marigold Jumpsuit, Wes Anderson

To make the jumpsuit, I paired the Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress bodice with the Marigold jumpsuit waistband and trousers. I added a zip up the back of the bodice, but otherwise it was fairly straightforward to piece the two patterns together, and it creates a very comfortable shape!

The Life Aquatic Team Zissou inspired Jumpsuit, Tilly & The Buttons Bettine / Marigold Jumpsuit, Wes Anderson

I chose a light blue chambray as the main material, and added contrasts in a deep blue cloud print by Cotton & Steel. I made a dress for Mum in this print last year and fortunately had enough fabric left for the contrast details.

The Life Aquatic Team Zissou Unpaid Intern Patch, Wes Anderson

I found this patch on Etsy as the finishing touch so I could be part of the team, but only as an unpaid intern!

The Life Aquatic Team Zissou inspired Jumpsuit, Tilly & The Buttons Bettine / Marigold Jumpsuit, Wes Anderson

The Belafonte

The Life Aquatic Belafonte

In homage to his favourite film, Michael had been planning to make a model of the Belafonte, Zissou’s boat. I recently decided to finish it for him.

The Life Aquatic Team Zissou Belafonte Model Boat, Wes Anderson

After meticulously researching examples of model boats other fans had made, and studying photos in his Wes Anderson Collection book, Michael found a kit for a Revell explorer boat which looked similar (and even has a submarine on the back deck!) and chose the paint colours he needed.

The Life Aquatic Team Zissou Belafonte Model Boat, Wes Anderson

Recently I was watching the film again and felt ready to have a go at building and painting the boat for him. It was a lot more difficult than I expected, and required lots of patience and a very steady hand! But I’m mostly quite pleased with how it turned out. I think Michael would be proud, and I hope it’s how he envisaged it. It’s now taking pride of place on our bookshelf.

Michael posing as Zissou in Legoland

And here he is, my very own Zissou, off on an adventure in Legoland!

Lucy x

Paris – New York – London

Part of the appeal of dressmaking for me is the opportunity to add your own personality and creativity to the garments you make, especially using fabrics which tell a story or capture a moment, turning a precious memory into something you can wear and smile about. Michael and I both loved exploring cities and some of our greatest adventures were our holidays to Paris and New York, and the years we lived in London, which inspired me to make a series of dresses in homage to our favourite cities using fabrics which reflect the colour and feel of my memories.

Paris

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We visited Paris twice to mark two of the most special occasions in my life, my 21st birthday in August 2008 and later our first wedding anniversary in June 2012. Since both trips were in the summer, I wanted to make a pretty pastel dress to encapsulate the feeling of carefree sunny days wandering through Paris, and what better choice than the Michael Miller Parisville print? It had been loitering in my fabric stash for a while waiting to be made, and when I planned a trip to Disneyland Paris in November with my Mum including a day trip to Paris it was the perfect prompt to get sewing.

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While we were in Paris, our tour group stopped off for a lunch break in the Jardin des Tuileries. After a quick dash to Angelina for chocolat chaud and a raspberry eclair (because it’s the law that you eat cake for lunch when in Paris, right?!), I snapped a few pictures of the dress. It was lovely to be back in Paris and to relive some of my happy memories there, and very special to be able to share them with Mum too.

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The “One day we’re gonna live in Paris…” dress is a Christine Haynes Emery dress with short sleeves and a gathered skirt, lined in a pink polka dot with my usual exposed pink lace zip. I made the skirt a little shorter so the hem would neatly finish in line with the print, and also since despite it’s debut outing in November it’s really more of a summer dress! The good enough to eat pink macaron necklace is from Sugar & Vice.

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This is one of my favourite pictures of Michael in the Jardin des Tuileries on our first trip to Paris. My memories of Paris are mostly the feeling of contentment as we strolled around the gardens and along the Seine, explored the boulevards and admired the buildings, and ate truly delicious cakes!

New York

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New York was the backdrop of one of the most perfect weeks of my life, our honeymoon in June 2011. When we got engaged and started to plan our wedding, we talked about where we might go on our honeymoon and both immediately suggested New York.

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It’s the only time we ever planned a “no expense spared” holiday, because if you’re going to New York on honeymoon you’ve got to do it right – we even stayed at the Waldorf! And on my recent trip to Disneyland Paris, we stayed in the Hotel New York which was the ideal place to photograph this dress.

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The “Hey you schmuck!” dress is another Christine Haynes Emery dress with short sleeves and a pleated skirt, using knife pleats at the front and box pleats at the back. It’s the first time I’ve made a pleated skirt without following a pattern and I’m very pleased with the overall shape of this dress. It’s lined with bright blue star print cotton and an exposed teal lace zip. The skyline print fabric is a pattern I found on Spoonflower, and the little yellow car necklace (which reminded me of a New York taxi!) is by the lovely Jo of Hello Sunshine.

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Our New York adventure was the perfect honeymoon. I remember heading straight up the Empire State building after we checked in, and standing there not being able to believe I was actually in New York and that Michael was now my husband. And of course on this trip we ate lots of hot dogs and burgers – we always liked to embrace the local cuisine!!

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London

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London was our home from 2008 to 2012 and it was the setting for a huge part of our love story – where we first lived together and started married life, before moving back to the midlands to be closer to friends and family. It was a brilliant adventure and, although life was hectic, we had a lot of fun. We’d usually work crazy hours all week, then spend our weekends exploring different parts of the city, Michael always on the hunt for a new record shop and me usually tracking down the best cupcakes! It was our second home, so I love going back to London now and soaking it all up.

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The “453 to Oxford Circus” dress is a Gather Kits Mortmain dress with a gathered skirt, lined in a navy polka dot with an exposed red lace zip. The London print fabric is by Robert Kaufman which I bought from Miss Gingers, and the red rotary phone necklace is by my favourite retro jewellery brand You Make Me Design.

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I love this cheeky snap of Michael not long after we moved to London, taken on the first anniversary of when we met. So many happy memories, now all wrapped up in three colourful dresses!

Lucy x

Marshmallow Dress

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I’m currently having a wonderful break in Paris but I’m just popping in to show you my first Marshmallow Dress since the pattern has launched today! This is the first pattern released by the very lovely Ana of Coco Wawa Crafts and I was lucky enough to pattern test it for her.  I’ve followed Ana on Instagram for a while and I love her style, and I’m always eyeing up the great organic print fabrics she stocks on her website, as well as the t-shirt yarn which is on my wishlist to make a chunky crochet scarf someday soon. Ana had been hinting about her debut pattern for a little while and I was eagerly anticipating the launch to see what she had up her sleeve, so I was delighted to get the chance to make it before the official release!

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Don’t you think Marshmallow is just the best name for a dress pattern? It sounds so cute and reflects the aesthetic and vibe perfectly! As you would expect, the styling of Ana’s first pattern is adorable. The Marshmallow is a trapeze dress with a ruffle trim and lots of cute design options – you can make it with or without sleeves, and add cuffs, a peter pan collar and/or a bow – all of my favourite touches! I chose to make a long sleeved version with contrast cuffs and collar.  When it came to picking a fabric, this sausage dog print by Dashwood Studio in my favourite mustard yellow has been on my wish list for a while and I thought it would work well with the look of this dress. You might also remember the sausage dog Mortmain dress I made earlier this year, but I don’t think you can ever have too many dresses with sausage dogs on, right?!? I added a contrast monochrome polka dot fabric to set off the collar and cuffs. I do like a contrasting collar!

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The dress fastens with a button band at the back which was interesting to construct, and adds a lovely design detail. I alternated between grey and white buttons to pick up on the colours in the print. And you’ll be pleased to hear it has pockets in the side seams, as any good indie pattern should! Since I was testing the pattern I didn’t make any significant changes as I made this dress, the only real change I made was to line it. The pattern doesn’t call for this and gives the option of using facings or bias binding to finish the neckline, but I was making this to wear in Autumn/Winter and wanted it to be extra snuggly!

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When I first made this dress, I used the contrast white and black polka dot cotton for the collar and cuffs and for the ruffle as you’ll see above, but I wasn’t entirely happy with how the contrast ruffle looked. The polka dot material was a lot thinner than the main material and you could see my tights through it, and I don’t think the overall balance of the dress was quite right, so I swapped it for a ruffle in the main fabric instead and I’m much happier with the result! Overall I found this dress to be a great fit, but once I had finished it and tried it on I did opt to take in the side seams. The dress is a trapeze shape which is a great style and extremely comfy, but it was just a little too wide around the hips for my personal preference. I think next time I make this dress I will grade between my size around the chest to the smallest size around the hips to make it the right silhouette for me.

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And best of all – this dress goes perfectly with my new spotty Clarks shoes, which were an absolute bargain in the sale recently and have a very cute block heel with a definite 1960s vibe. I wore this outfit to go for afternoon tea last week and I felt very cute and extremely comfortable, which is exactly what I look for in a dress!

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Huge congratulations to Ana on the release of her first pattern, I’m wishing you lots of luck with the Marshmallow dress! Since I started making my own clothes I have mostly used patterns from independent brands for lots of reasons – I find the designs more unique, and I am full of admiration for indie pattern designers so I love to know I am supporting their creative dream, but perhaps the biggest appeal for me is the attention to detail you get with an indie pattern from the packaging to the instruction booklet as I’m a sucker for good branding. So I am very happy to see a new designer on the block and I’m excited to see what comes next from Coco Wawa Sewing Patterns!

I’m off to eat some more macarons – au revoir for now!

Lucy x