Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sewn: Burda 04/2017-117 Cutout Bias Dress

It has been a long time since I have sewn a garment for myself (the last thing was a dressing gown nearly two years ago). I got a bit annoyed that I kept changing size/shape so I stopped. However, I have recently discovered Handmade by Carolyn's blog and this really inspired me to have another go. She uses a variety of patterns and makes everything - even down to tights and shoes

I fell in love with this bias cut dress in the April 2017 Burda Magazine and with in no time I was raiding my stash to find something to make it in. The fabric was given to me by a lovely colleague and I think it is a polycotton. 




Size
The Burda pattern is in a Tall Size range, but even though I am short, I do have quite a long torso, so I cut the size 80 (which is a UK 14). I am a shop size 12 but my measurements suited the 14 better. The dress has a roomier fit in the bust but the waist is fine.



Alterations
I couldn't find an invisible zip at the correct length and so used an ordinary one. I also lengthened the skirt, which seems crazy for a tall size, but I prefer it that way! 

Try a Caesar in Canada (a bit like a Bloody Mary)!


I always find the Burda instructions a little confusing (much prefer a little helpful diagram) and couldn't even see a mention of joining the shoulders together [edit: just spotted it now - I could have sworn it wasn't there!]. It was also a bit hazy about attaching the lining at the back, however I just finished it off by hand.



Conclusion
Love the dress so much and have worn it several times and had some compliments to boot. I even took it on my recent holiday to Canada ... last seen cycling the Toronto harbourside (above)!

Love Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Books: March & April Reads



A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. At over 700 pages, and with a gruelling backstory of appalling childhood abuse, it is not for the faint hearted. It reminded me a little of Donna Tartt's The Secret History, in so far as the main characters meet at university. Just a heads up, I sobbed almost solidly through the final 100 pages of this novel.

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney
Another brilliant novel: I listened to this one on my commute, and the narrator was absolutely superb with the different characters' voices. This centres around a private investigator in a hunt for a missing adult in a gypsy community. There are some brilliant twists in this tale.

The Trap by Melanie Raabe
I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book. The story unfolds at quite a rate and is a quick read but I either didn't like the writer's style or the translation. The plot - an author planning to lure her sister's killer into a trap is pretty intriguing, but I won't be seeking out any more of her novels.

The Gathering by Anne Enright
The wonderful Irish tones of Fiona Shaw reading this frank story about the death of Liam, one member of a large family is very engaging. The death dredges up stories of the family over generations and childhood mysteries as they prepare to gather for the funeral.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Although I enjoyed it, I'm not quite sure why this book got all the attention it did - am I the only one to think this? I think that the three main female characters were all pretty interchangeable (versions of each other under slightly different circumstances) - maybe this was the point? The interminable drinking was enough to make me not want to drink again!

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
This was an absolute dud for me. Again, I listened to this one, but the narrator was wooden, and to be honest so was the story. Disappointing.

Love Mrs Jones X

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Patchwork: Quilt-a-long 2017 - Box in a Box

I never seem to make enough time for sewing these days, although I have just managed to finish the March blocks from The Fat Quarter Shop's Make a Wish quilt.


The March pattern was Box in a box, which is really nice and easy and looks pretty striking. As I said before, I am trying to use up my scraps as far as possible and so continued this with this block. I think I used all these fabrics in the Retro Boys Quilt.

It doesn't seem to matter how many scraps I think I am using, they don't seem to be disappearing very fast! I can't even remember the last time I indulged in some fabric shopping!

Love Mrs Jones X

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Patchwork: Quilt-a-long 2017 - Diamond Panes

In January I posted my first batch of blocks in the Fat Quarter Shop Quiltalong 2017. Tomorrow, the March block pattern is released, so I thought I would show my progress to date.


February's block is Diamond Panes. Although I have sewn HST quilts before, see here and here, I have never done it with this method of sandwiching two squares together (I have always used my Sizzix HST template). It does make the process pretty simple.


So, six diamond pane blocks completed. I'm still not wholly sure where I am going with the colour palette on this because I am trying to use scraps as far as possible. I am leaning towards green, blue and grey but I recently saw some lovely quilts with mauve in the mix which is also pretty tempting!


Here are my blocks so far. Any colour suggestions?

Love Mrs Jones x



Sunday, 26 February 2017

Books: January & February 2017



The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
My first read of 2017, was one that had been on my "to read" pile for a while. I wanted something snowy and wintery to read for the New Year and this hits the spot. It follows the journeys of Mrs Ross, her son and various members of the village following the mysterious death of Laurent Jammett. It contains both murder and mystery but is not a conventional murder mystery!

Stef is a wonderful story teller, and I am really pleased to have discovered her. I am about to start listening to The Invisible Ones.

Coffin Road by Peter May
This is the kind of book I would never select myself but was recommended it by my Dad, and surprisingly I was hooked from the first page. A man washes up on a Scottish island with no memory of who or what he was before. I loved his quest to find out who he was, particularly when the signs point to the fact that he may have had a sinister past.

The Lower River by Paul Theroux
I loved Mosquito Coast and I was hoping that this would be similar. In a way it is, but took a while to really launch into the story. Ellis Hock is nearing retirement, his wife has divorced him and his daughter has abandoned him. He sets off to return to a better life in Malawi, where he spent a wonderful few years as a young man building a school. However, when he returns, all isn't as his rose tinted spectacles remembers. 

There is real darkness to this book as he becomes trapped in the village and there is an ongoing power struggle between him and Manyenga. I didn't find Ellis a very likeable character and (without revealing too much) you do wonder whether he gets what he deserves. 

Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks
I am a fan of Sebastian Faulks, but this one isn't one of his best. An elderly Psychiatrist, Pereira, who fought with his father in the Great War asks Robert Hendricks to be his literary executor. Robert fought in WWII but had refused to unlock his memories of it. However, his visits with Pereira become the catalyst for him to remember his love and battle stories from that time. 

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
Unfortunately, this was another dud for me. I wonder whether it was the narrator on my audio version but given the story, it just didn't grip me like it should have. This is the life of Shostakovich who falls out of favour with the Stalin government, is reprieved from execution and subsequently becomes their puppet. 

In other news, I was told by my Physio that reading in bed is really bad for the neck and back, which is a complete shocker for me as that is when the majority of my reading gets done. It is something to do with the angle of the neck and pressure of holding the book.

So, what have you been reading lately?
Love
Mrs Jones X

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Patchwork: Quilt-a-long 2017 - Souvenir of Friendship

The Fat Quarter Shop are hosting a Quilt-a-long in aid of Make a Wish. Block patterns are released on 15th of each month in 2017 (suggested $5 donation).





The first block is called Souvenir of Friendship and is relatively easy to construct once you have got past the idea that the pieces are insanely tiny (1 1/2 inch square anyone?). Having said that, it is an ideal block for using up scraps, which is exactly what I have done. If you are astute, you will recognise that this fabric has been repurposed from this skirt.


There are twelve patterns in total, and you make six blocks of each. Some quilters are using different fabrics for each of their six blocks, but I wanted to keep the same pattern per block. I am hoping to add in some lime greens and greys into the mix.

Love Mrs Jones x










Monday, 23 January 2017

Patchwork: Retro Boys Quilt

This quilt was finished before Christmas (2016 - ha!), but hasn't yet reached its recipient who lives in Kent. I made his twin sister a quilt back in the summer


He had a particular colour palette in mind and I hope I have achieved something fun but not too young either.


The fabrics are a combination of things I had in my stash, combined with Thicket by Gingiber and Nocturne by Janet Clare.


I kept to a fairly simple nine-patch block, but even so, some of my piecing has gone a little awry. I quilted it sparsely with stitch in the ditch (neither me or my machine are really up to anything much more than that), and finished it with no binding because I think it stands up to more vigorous machine washing that way.


I can't wait to meet up with our friends to give this to their son.

Love Mrs Jones x




Sunday, 15 January 2017

Books: The Hits and Misses of 2016

Anyone who knows me well, will know that I always have at least one book on the go at any one time. In 2016, I set myself a Reading Challenge of 24 books, which I actually surpassed. I also started listening to Audio books this year - a great way to spend my hour commute.



Fiction Hits
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes: this seems to be a bit of a Marmite book, but I loved this action packed thriller which no doubt will also make a fantastic film.

The Bees by Laline Paull: set in a beehive, this book about a bee who breaks out of her allocated role is brilliant.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters: a wonderful ghost story.

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma: (2015 Man Booker shortlist): the story of four brothers and how they are affected by a curse after fishing in a forbidden river.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: a heart-warming story about a grumpy old man and his neighbourhood which has you laughing one minute and crying the next.

Us by David Nicholls: a couple on the verge of break-up who take their son on a European Grand Tour the summer before he starts uni. I read it in the summer before Albert went to uni so was quite poignant for me.

This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes: a very witty book about a man whose life suddenly changes one day due to a medical emergency and the resulting impact it has on his life.

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier: I love Tracy Chevalier's writing - this is about a dysfunctional family trying to grow apples in the swamps of America.

Fiction Misses
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee: This sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird just didn't do it for me. Disappointing.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante: The first in a trilogy that I thought I was going to love but actually hated.

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy: (2015 Man Booker shortlist) - it was so bad that I can't even remember what it was about. I just remember thinking it was pretentious.

J by Howard Jacobson: (2015 Man Booker shortlist) - I didn't hate this, but struggled to read it. I usually like dystopian novels but not this one.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James: (2015 Man Booker Prize Winner) - I tried reading it but resorted to the audiobook but it just didn't do it for me. There were far too many voices and it was just too bloody long!

Fiction: The Rest
The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies: This was a gift and not something I would usually read, but I did really enjoy it.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: I enjoyed this book which is about a blind girl hiding a gem in St Malo in WWII, but thought it could have been so much shorter.

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell: I wanted to read this because someone told me it would make me cry. It didn't. Perhaps I read too much, but I found it a bit predictable.

Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood: I'm not usually a fan of short stories but the majority of these were great and all a little macabre.

Number 9 Dream by David Mitchell: It was a little difficult to separate the fantasy from the reality in Eiji's narration, but this is a great story.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey: About a lady with dementia who is convinced her friend is missing but uncovers the truth about her sister.

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier: This is a great book for quilters!

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper: Etta journeys on foot from her home to the sea and her and Otto's love story enfolds.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood: In a similar vein to Oryx and Crake, another dystopian novel from Atwood. Not quite up to her usual standard.

Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene: This felt very dated - not Graham Greene at his best.

Harvest by Jim Crace: An interesting tale about a new family that settle in the neighbourhood and how this becomes a catalyst for a whole heap of trouble.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler: (2015 Man Booker Shortlist) a good story, but again, Anne Tyler has written better.

The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark: A disturbing little tale about Lise, an office worker who is taking a holiday but turns into something much more sinister.

Non-Fiction
Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande: I love a good medical book - absolutely fascinating.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed: I watched the brilliant film with Reese Witherspoon before reading this. It was a joy to read of her hike across the Pacific Crest Trail.

So, what were your reading highlights from last year?

Love Mrs Jones x