Remembering

I have a dress to share, and a story. Hopefully it’s something you’re interested in reading. First up this is my new dress. It’s an Emery Dress by Christine Haynes mashed with Project Runway for Simplicity 2444.

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I used the bodice darts and neckline from 2444 but the armholes and sleeves from the Emery. It’s the Emery skirt too. I mentioned this on Instagram and Twitter but I used a clever but fiddly tutorial to fully line the bodice, even though it has sleeves. I made it extra hard for myself by lining the bodice in the same fabric as the shell so it was hard to work out what to sew and when.

The fabric is a Robert Kaufman limited edition print called “Patriots” – a design to commemorate the centennial of the Naval Airforce. I bought it at Abakhan a few months back and felt emotionally drawn to it. I knew I had to sew it up before November.

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This time of year always makes me a little sad. You see every Remembrance Day I think of my Grandparents and I feel regret that I didn’t know them better. I never asked them the questions that I should have before it was too late. I know that’s a familiar tale but it doesn’t make me regret it any less.

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So today I’d like to share something about my Grandad, on my Father’s side. Alfred Edward Thomas, “Ted” to his friends was in the Navy during the Second World War. Here’s what I know.

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Volunteering in June 1942, aged 19, he joined the HMS Collingwood as a Leading Seaman – that was the equivalent of a Corporal from what I can tell. Between June 1942 and Feb 1945 he served on the Collingwood (for training), Osprey, and the Drake IV Tanatside. In May 1943 during his time on Tanatside the he was promoted to Able Seaman meaning a seaman with at least two years’ experience at sea. From Feb 1945 to June 1946 he served on the HMS Pembroke IV, Fabius (sp?), St Angelo (Caduus), Peacock, and Blenheim. He also spent several months on various out-stations of HMS Victory, most likely for more training.

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He was awarded the 1939-1945 Star, Atlantic Star (service in France and Germany), Africa Star (service in North Africa 1942-43)The Defense Medal and The War Medal. There’s a significance to the order of the medals which I won’t delve into too much but I want to say the 1939-1945 Star is awarded to those with more than 180 days continuous service – that’s something to imagine. And the Atlantic Star was awarded to those who participated in the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest continuous battle of the Second World war.

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To think of anyone serving in a war is almost inconceivable, it becomes a mental amalgamation of film or television scenes and patchy school history lessons. To think of someone you know – someone who has taken you on day trips and played board games with you – being at war is even harder to rationalise.

But it’s good to try and remember, to think of the effort and sacrifice. So I know what I’ll be thinking of at 11am on the 11th of November.

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Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress

Hope all of you are still out there and reading my ramblings. First up, with the WordPress 4.3 update I lost my last post and all your lovely comments. So sorry about that.

Also you may be wondering why I haven’t commented on the recent news in my life yet. Basically, I’m building up to it! It’s a little overwhelming to put into words exactly how it’s changed everything.

One thing I will hold my hands up to is that it’s now almost impossible for me to comment on blog posts. I honestly cannot find the time. Even time for reading blogs has been squeezed. That really upsets me because I always felt like I was part of a conversation in this community of sewists. Instead I have to rely on twitter and IG where I can comment all at once. Maybe you hadn’t even noticed the difference but I’ve absolutely missed it.

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So now I’ve bummed everyone out… I have another unblogged make to share with you all. Here is my first Sew Over It Vintage Shirtdress. I’ve already made a second!

I saw Emmie’s tester version at the Fashion on the Ration exhibition and wanted to rip it off her hahaha. Instead I bought it the day it came out. I was in such a rush I didn’t even see there was a pattern discount to apply – doh. This is my favourite of all the SOI envelope illustrations.

almond rock vintage shirtdress sew over it polka dot chambray

So where to start. Probably sizing because it’s important. I made a size 8 and it fits me almost perfectly which is insane!!! I made a size 10 muslin fully expecting it to fit me around the bust but need letting out at the waist, shortening in the torso and a narrow shoulder adjustment. But it was almost right which is absolutely bonkers. I’ve got a 35″ bust, a (EDIT! I mistyped my waist measurement by 4 inches on my first post. Sorry!) 34″ waist and I’m 5ft5.

There’s no need to give my hip measurement as it’s safe to say the quarter circle skirt skims over everything and is really flattering on a pear shape. It’s JUST long enough so ladies taller than me, take note. The release pleats are a nice change from darts. For reference I normally make a size 12-14 in Big 4 patterns and a 10/12 in BHL and 36 in Deer and Doe.

almond rock vintage shirtdress sew over it polka dot chambray

I actually used the sleeved cutting lines but then left off my sleeves at the last minute. I think the armholes sit well but the gathers seem a little distorted. I saw a recent pic of Lisa in a blue polka dot sleeved version and it made me a little sad I’d left them off mine but nevermind.

The collar is constructed slightly differently to a regular notched collar as the two pieces of the collar stay separate. I’m comparing this collar to my satin pjs and my Simplicity 1880 shirtdresses. This actually makes it much easier to manipulate and achieve a clean finish. Clever thinking for making this easier for new sewists and a new twist on the style.

almond rock vintage shirtdress sew over it polka dot chambray

The fabric is a dotty chambray I picked up in the M is for Make sale a few months back. It’s a Robert Kaufman chambray in Royal with white woven dots.

I loved the drape and feel so much I recently bought the black colourway from Village Haberdashery! The dots are woven and slightly raised rather than bleached or printed.

It’s finished off with little red rose buttons from Ribbon Circus in Hebden Bridge. After a bit of headscratching I managed to get them to fit in my automatic buttonhole foot. If I’d had to do a 4 step for this button I’d have been pretty scared of nailing the sizing!

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I used navy bias tape and overlocking to finish everything inside. I wanted to finish the hem with bias too but it made it too stiff.

So there you have it! I wear this dress a lot and when I pair it with my red cardigan and shoes I feel like a 1970s schoolteacher or with my navy cardigan it more Matron at a 1950s hospital. Can’t really explain why hahah.

almond rock vintage shirtdress sew over it polka dot chambray

Last week, I had a few days off to sew as I want to make a proper dent in my fabric stash. Now I have four or five dresses, three tops and a pair of jeans to share at some point! I also want to talk about my new job and some of the things I’ve sewn for that! Am I the only one with a blogging backlog? I bet you’re all more organised than me!

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