Week eleven: mostly trousers

And we’re back at ‘school’ for the final stretch – I have chosen not to send Thing 2 (in year 6) back to school as I feel strongly that it’s too early to do so. The R number is still closer to 1 than 0, the hospitals are expecting a second spike after the half term heatwave (and presumably the mass gatherings in cities over the past few days, though I wholeheartedly support the right to protest against human rights abuses) and I don’t believe that keeping children in ‘bubbles’ is the best way for them to learn. Children – particularly the little ones – need the freedom to play, to explore, to self-select their learning materials, and to socialise with their friends.

(On the subject of the protests, I’d like to see drone footage of the gatherings – there was an interesting piece the other day which showed how the same scene could be manipulated using different lenses and angles to make the viewer think people were ignoring rules.)

I will say that ‘school’ hasn’t been entirely successful this week! We have managed something every day, but that’s all I can lay claim to. Thing 1 has been a bit more enthusiastic as we have had confirmation of her GCSE options, and she’s been allocated her first choices – child development, art, French and media studies – and she now gets to focus on these alongside her core subjects. I wish she’d chosen history, but then I also wish I’d done textiles instead of French – she can always self-discover later if it becomes an interest!

You haven’t mentioned trousers yet…

It hasn’t all been trousers, of course. Monday and Tuesday were all about finishing my Sewing Bee dress. This is a tea dress that my favourite Bee, Liz, made in Episode 1 of the current series and teamed with Doc Martens – the best way to wear a dress, unless it’s with fishnets, Converse and a fluffy petticoat! I’d love Liz to win, or failing that, Matt (who is just adorable), but I suspect Claire is going to swan off with the laurels this year.

The pattern is the Shelby dress by True Bias, which can also be made as a long romper (all-in-one), or short versions of each. I plan on making the long romper as well, in a slightly heavier fabric for winter. I chose the classic short sleeve option and chose to grow them on rather than setting them in as I hate setting in sleeves.

I used a cheap and cheerful polycotton fabric with a cherry print, that I have used before for a pair of Lapwing trousers so I know it washes well – the dress can function as a wearable toile to throw on over the summer, and I can make a ‘proper’ one for work. In terms of construction, apart from the sleeve shortcut, I followed the instructions and it was a straightforward make. My one frustration with the pattern is that none of the panel lengths matched the next one, so there was a lot of trimming before I could turn up the hem. I think I’ll be making more True Bias patterns in the future.

One day my beloved will take a photo of me looking tall and thin! Here I am in my Shelby dress, barefoot in the garden.

The rest of the week was all about the trousers, though, I promise.

First up was the New Look 6859 pyjama pattern for my beloved – this is only the second thing I have ever made for him (the first was a pair of Superhero boxers a couple of weeks ago). He actually requested pyjama bottoms in a sort of ‘well, if you’re making stuff anyway‘ kind of way. Again, these are in an anchor & lifebelt print polycotton which can be tumble dried and requires no ironing – from Pound Fabrics, I think. I hadn’t used this pattern before- they have pockets, and they were supposed to have a drawstring as well as elastic but I just left it with the elastic as my cotton tape was nowhere to be found.

Next, it was a second pair of ‘shaggy pants’ for Thing 2, in 100% cotton (from Pound a Metre, this time). Madam chose the fabric herself, and luckily it was just wide enough to be able to cut the fabric against the grain so the stripes ran horizontally. I was impressed that the stripes look so even across the trouser legs, and almost as well on the outer seams. It’s the same pattern as the last pair, but I decreased the seam allowance to 10mm rather than 15mm in the sides and back for a tiny bit more room for her bottom. (You’ll notice that I try and link to Jaycott’s when I share patterns – I’m not affiliated with them in any way but I do use them myself as they are very reliable and often have excellent sales!)

Finally, it was Thing 1’s ‘shaggy pants but a bit more flowy please mum’ – using Simplicity 1069, version A in crepe-de-Chine fabric. I was put off slippery fabrics a few years ago after trying to make a chiffon kimono when I was quite new to sewing, so I approached this particular challenge with some trepidation – particularly when I realised that the pattern had an invisible zip, pleats in the front AND darts in the back. I was pleased to discover that as long as I supported the fabric while sewing it was pretty easy to handle, and they came together easily. I don’t think I have ever put an invisible zip into anything before constructing the garment but it actually made it very easy, and this might be a hack I use again.

Thing 1 modelling her new trousers – note the DMs!

There’s been very little crochet but a lot of cross stitching – I finished the 4th panel and started on the 5th which is coming along well. Cross stitch was my ‘gateway’ craft and still my favourite to go back to, so having time in my days to focus on it is lovely. I suspect, however, that focusing much more on this is going to require new glasses…each panel has 5607 stitches in 37 colours, and there’s 18 stitches to the inch. It should – in the end – replace the print of this painting I’ve had on my bedroom walls since 1991 when I bought it in a poster sale at the Student Union in Freshers Week. It’s looking a bit faded now.

So, you’ve been indoors all week then!

The weather has changed for the worse, though we are getting intermittent sunshine, and yesterday’s walk was very badly timed! A neighbour and I took our girls out yesterday and found ourselves in the flood meadow just in time for the heavens to open with torrential rain, thunder and lightning – and finally hailstones. We both discovered our waterproofs weren’t doing their jobs…we were so wet that the only thing to do was laugh.

Other walks have been less damp – another walking friend and I have been out at 6am a couple of days this week. One morning we were lucky enough to see a pair of hares in a field, as we walked through to Tawney Common. There’s always a muntjac or two on that route, scampering into the woods, and we usually see some of the Ongar Great Park deer in the fields as well.

One day took us through the park farm as well, past Dial House – the kids call this the ‘witch’s cottage’. We spotted deadly nightshade on the railway bridge and some pretty white irises, as well as admiring the continuing progress of the poppies on the rubble heap.

The weather isn’t looking good for this week, either…

True! I’ve cut out the Hot Coffee hoodie and a Beachcomber dress, both by MBJM Patterns – some fun cat-print fabric for the hoodie and Breton stripes for the dress. I want to try and add pockets to the dress without using the colour blocked version, so we’ll see how that goes. The fabric is quite drapey so I’ll tack the panels on in case the extra layers pull the dress out of shape. I should really have made the colour block style but the thought of pattern matching stripes put me off!

So that’s my week! I’m off to make the sauce for tonight’s lasagne now – one of the few meals that everyone will eat!

How’s your week been?

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

The Silver Pigs/Shadows in Bronze – Lindsey Davis (Audible versions)

And I’m onto the last Jilly Cooper!

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