Two Renfrews

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I met a friend today for lunch at the fabulous, newly opened, café at Harlech Castle.  They proudly boast of having the best views in the whole of North Wales and I quite agree.  You can see all the way over to the Snowdonia mountain range and indeed Snowdon itself and closer to home there is the beautiful Harlech beach and the sea.

For lunch I enjoyed the most delicious Welsh Rarebit (cheese on toast) made with locally brewed Purple Moose beer on top of freshly baked sour dough bread.  Oh my goodness – it was so delicious I didn’t want to finish it.

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I wore my new royal blue Renfrew top as, despite the blue skies, it was decidedly chilly on the walk down.  I am really starting to yearn for warmer weather and to be able to feel the sun on my skin.  At least the daffodils are now coming out into bloom so everything is starting to feel more cheery – it is amazing how much those bright yellow flowers can lift your mood.

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The Sarah Shirt

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As soon as I saw the new pattern release from By Hand London, the Sarah Shirt, I knew that it was destined for my shopping basket, nothing was going to stop me from buying it.   Sometimes I will have an internal debate with myself where that sensible part of my brain will shout ‘you don’t need another pattern’ but it never really makes enough of an impact to stop my fingers hovering very long over the ‘buy now’ button.

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My first garments as a returnee sewer

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I wasn’t really sure whether to blog about the following two blouses and the longer I’ve left it the more I’ve debated shelving the post and moving onto more recent makes.  The reason for my dilemma is that I made these blouses all the way back last summer so it feels like a bit of a cheat writing about them now, almost 7 months later.   Not only that, but the lilac blouse was the very first garment I made when I returned to sewing last year after a 30 year break.  Even though I had sewn a lot in the past, such a long break meant that I was pretty much a newbie, I could remember almost nothing about sewing or how to put a garment together.  Having said that, now I look at the photos (and the blouse) I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.

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Greenstyle Laurel Tunic In Powder Blue

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It is such a bright sunny day here in North Wales that I had to photograph the view from my back garden this morning.  We have had days on end of grey drizzle and so to see the sun again is a balm to the soul.  Having said it is sunny, don’t be fooled.  That is snow on the mountains and it is bitterly cold – as I found out when I came outside to get these photos taken in nothing more than a thin top!

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I had many plans in place this weekend, I was going to spring clean the house, clear out all of the accumulated junk from cupboards and drawers and then treat the family to a home cooked Sunday lunch with all of the trimmings.  But, none of that has happened – oops.  I genuinely did have the best of intentions but yesterday morning I sat reading blog posts whilst drinking my coffee.  I came across the Greenstyle Laurel tunic on one such post and then started looking at photos of other versions and then next thing I knew I had purchased the pdf, downloaded and then printed it out.  Second coffee in hand and I’m cutting out the pieces and putting them together.  Before I knew it the day had gone, my cupboards were still messy but I was in possession of a brand new Laurel tunic – so in my book, not a bad day really.

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A Moneta in green

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Gosh it seems like a lifetime ago since I last wrote a blog post – well it was nearly two months ago.  Since then Christmas and New Year have been and gone and I’ve been on my holiday of a lifetime.  We set sail from Southampton on 2nd January to a huge firework display put on by Southampton Council to mark the beginning of the Aurora’s world cruise – it was something special to be on the deck watching the display and realising that I was setting off on a huge adventure.

The first couple of days on the cruise were difficult, to say the least.  We hit storms almost straight away and as we reached the Bay of Biscay we had 50 foot waves and a force 9 gale coming at us.  Trying to sleep in a bed that rolls you literally over to one side and then immediately back to the other throughout the night is impossible – believe me, I have tried it and don’t ever want to do so again!  I think me and the Bay of Biscay are not deemed to be friends.

Our first port of call was Ponta Del Garda in the Azures where we were met by grey drizzly weather and so unfortunately we didn’t really see very much.  However just a couple of days later we were hitting temperatures over 20 and lovely balmy seas.  We had two days in Barbados where a couple of the photos below were taken.  After that we visited Aruba, sailed through the Panama Canal (wow!) and finally Cabo San Lucas in Mexico before sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge at 5am and docking in San Francisco.

My hubby flew out to meet me in SF and after a couple of days there we flew to Los Angeles, had a couple of days there, then onto Las Vegas where we managed to fit in a couple of amazing shows and a helicopter flight through the Grand Canyon.  And we finished our holiday in Washington DC where the remnants of the huge snow storms were still in evidence.

Anyway, now I’m home, settling back to real life and itching to start sewing new projects again – of which I have many planned.  However, this blog post is about a Moneta dress that I sewed before my holiday and didn’t get a chance to blog about (good job really or I wouldn’t have been able to post the photos of me wearing it in Barbados)

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A parade of Washington dresses

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When the Washington dress pattern was first released I wasn’t 100% sure if I could see myself wearing it but as a loyal Cashmerette fan I had to buy it on the day of its release.  I hung onto the pattern for a couple of weeks until a few blog posts started to appear and I could start to visualise how the dress might work for me.

My first version of the Washington was made in 100% ponte, I skipped the woven skirt (blog post here)  As soon as I put the dress on for the first time I knew it was going to become a wardrobe staple.

My teal ponte version did come out a little on the large side, a combination of me picking the wrong size and also changing the woven skirt out for a knitted ponte.  So for my second version (blog post here) I went down a size, added in a full bottom adjustment and shortened the bodice by 1 inch.  I was really pleased with the fit and there began my love affair with the Washington.

During the last two weeks I have made up four new versions and I already have another two cut out waiting to be sewn ……….

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Morris blazers in navy and black

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Tonight I met up with a group of friends for our Christmas get-together.  I’m always so excited this time of the year with Christmas just around the corner and the thought of time with family, a few treats and of course, delicious turkey meals.

We met up in a fabulous restaurant in a small village which I can see across the bay from my back garden.  I always love the chance to go there as it is one of those places that just lifts my spirits, it is like a breath of fresh air.  As you can see from the photo, most of the houses on the sea front are painted in beautiful, bright and vibrant colours – don’t they look amazing?

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Tonight I wore a couple of my current favourite me-mades to the restaurant, my purple Lady Skater dress and my purple Morris blazer.

So why am I telling you about my purple Morris blazer when this blog post is about my navy and black versions?

Well when I wrote my blog post about my purple Morris blazer I noted down the fit issues and the alterations that I planned to incorporate into the next version.

This blog post is about the next two iterations of the Grainline Morris blazer and my conclusions about whether I ended up with a better fitting garment.

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Lady Skater dress in purple

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With less than three weeks to go until The Big Cruise (Southampton UK to San Francisco) I’m starting to panic that I haven’t made enough dresses.  Not only will I need day wear but also evening wear – even if I don’t go to the posh black tie evenings I know I will still want to dress up a little for dinner.

And to make it even more complicated, we will be leaving the UK slap bang in the middle of winter with temperatures around freezing, then sailing into warmer climates until we hit Barbados which apparently has an average temperature of 29 degrees that time of year.  We then carry on to Mexico (average 23 degrees) ending up in SF which should be about 13 degrees.  After short stops at Los Angeles and Las Vegas we round off the holiday in Washington DC – which I am led to believe will be very cold in February.  So not only do I need day and evening wear, I need a Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter wardrobe – eek!

Anyway, with that in mind, my latest make is my first Lady Skater dress from Kitschy Coo.   I’ve seen so many gorgeous Lady Skater dresses around the blogosphere that I just wanted to make one myself.   I really love my Moneta dress but the gathers make me feel that it is more suited to wearing in the daytime.  Whereas I can imagine myself wearing the Lady Skater not only during the day but also dressing it up with a nice jacket for the evening– in fact, I wore this dress last week with my purple Morris jacket and I felt very smart.

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Washington dress in pink and black

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After making and blogging about my new teal ponte Washington Dress yesterday (HERE) I decided I wanted to have a go at using the correct fabric for the skirt section i.e. a woven cotton.  I really like my ponte version but it does seem to be on the large side.  And as I am a larger lady to begin with, I really don’t need to be adding any more width, especially around my hip area.

Please don’t think I’m criticising the Washington pattern, I absolutely am not, the pattern is brilliant. The issues were caused by my decision to go renegade and not use the correctly suggested fabric.  Because I used a ponte knit I should have realised that the finished skirt would run larger than the same sized skirt made with a woven.

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Washington Dress in Teal

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When the new Washington Dress pattern and photos were released on Monday I thought how gorgeous the three models (including Jenny) looked in their versions of the dress.  However, I’m in my early 50s and I just couldn’t picture me wearing anything like the designs being shown.  But I am a true Cashmerette fan and I adore the Appleton dress so I had to order a copy of the pattern even if, at the time, I wasn’t sure I would actually make it myself.

Luckily Elaine quickly posted a review and photos of some of her Washington Dress makes – a gorgeous lacy top version and a two pattern hacked tunics.

Elaine is in a similar age demographic to myself and once I had seen her versions I realised that I could make this dress work for me.  Hooray to all of the other bloggers out there who take the time and effort to show what they have made.  I find it really helps me to see the endless possibilities of any particular pattern

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