Flaurel (and maybe a farewell)

Hello, are you also snowed in? It’s getting pretty boring and nothing like Narnia. Well, maybe with the exception of the serious questions about, ekhm, power and those who wield it. We could use some kids with a lion.

Just snow here, tall snowbanks and provisional hills of it made by snowplows right now as a snowstorm just wound down (I hope!). But I dug up some flowers. From my stash.

The flowers: three yards of a dark navy polyester floral print that I bought on impulse during a Craftsy sale. Was it a year ago? I don’t remember. I do remember that the total cost was under $10 dollars and, while I liked the print, I didn’t like the slippery feel of the fabric.

With the aid of spray starch I finally cut into it. The spray starch did not work as well as I’d hoped but I’m not giving up on the stuff. And I did manage to cut out a Laurel dress, even if the hem played tricks on me.


I call it the Flaurel

I took my time on this one. I liked the print as a print. Draping myself in it (yes, that happened) and then sewing it, I was torn between love and wondering whether it makes me look like a sofa. Bridget Jones level worries here, as you can see.

I resolved my dilemma by adding a keyhole, exactly like I did on the Laurel lbd. The keyhole has supreme dilemma-resolving power, I think. And just like that one the Flaurel is zipper-free, with a button and buttonloop at the neckline. I added small cuffs to the sleeves, which kind of disappear in the print but please me nonetheless.

The fabric has no stretch. I was lazy, the fabric was fraying viciously, and so I didn’t bother with basting for fit. In the end the dress fits but I have to wait a while to shed the lingering perfectionist hangup.

And… don’t hold me to this… but it might be the last Laurel for a longer while. Tinkering with Big Four and Burda has made me take many, many closer looks at my back in terms of fitting. Don’t get me wrong, the Laurel is pleasingly roomy on the back for me but I feel like the redrafted armholes I’ve tested out here and here fit even better. So I’d like to give other shift dresses* a try, with that crazy armhole (which I’ll try to show you in the near future).

That’s reason one. Reason two is that I’ve grown pretty discouraged about Colette over the past several months. I really don’t like how they responded to the criticism of the drafting of the Rue dress. I appreciate that they did admit drafting errors but what they revealed about their process did not inspire confidence. Laurel is a pattern drafted from their previous block and it fits me pretty well with minor adjustments. More current patterns, like Winona and Wren (both of which I wanted to make), are drafted from a new block, which is very different. I gave up on trying to fit them. I would like to make these dresses but I really don’t want to deal with what would need to be careful muslining and maybe partly redrafting. And in a knit. I don’t have the time for that now, so I’m moving on.

Okay, one more thing about the Flaurel. The inspiration came from the inimitable Carolyn and her fantastic photos from her Year of Handmade (#lifegoals). Now, I can’t seem to find the photo I have in mind. Did I imagine it? If so, please forgive me, Carolyn. If that’s just something from a dream collage based me absorbing these outfits, I take full responsibility.

Anyhow, here’s my take on that memory or dream. A dress with a skirt, because who will know. Apart from all of you, obviously.

Me and my broad, broad back. The skirt is the deep pleat skirt from Burda.

What do you think?

That’s it for flowers, back to the snow. I’ve been putting off writing about this but thinking about it all the time. And, as a result, posting here sporadically even though I really like talking about sewing with you and sharing my makes and woes. The current situation in the world has been getting to me, to put it mildly. Yes, there are always things to worry and care about in the world, but I’d argue that one can remain more skillful about that when one is not checking the news every morning to see if the world as we know it still exists.

I don’t believe one can really be apolitical but I also believe that we shouldn’t blindly cling to labels. We should stop every once in a while and define those labels to check what they actually mean to us. That’s a serious problem. I’m seeing people throwing around labels and those labels are washed out of all meaning. What are the principles behind the labels? It’s heartbreaking to see people follow someone who seems to be waving a flag they like without asking any questions.

So many people, on both sides of the various divides, are talking about anger these days. And, I’m not going to lie, I don’t think that in all those cases “the truth is in the middle” and both sides have equal standing, or that their anger is equally justified. Some of that anger is more justified. When it’s anger about being hurt in real ways and not by imagined threats it’s justified. Anger, as such, I think isn’t bad unless you act out in anger. Anger can certainly be the spark that starts something good but it only become that if you transform it into thoughtful action. Use it as energy but act out of wisdom and kindness.

At this time it’s important to cultivate kindness. Don’t replace it with hate. And no, I’m not saying be a doormat. Give tough love. But let there be kindness in your heart and let it guide you. If you extend it to yourself, you won’t let yourself become a doormat. Are you following me?

Kindness will allow us to stay sane in difficult times. Hate is scary and provokes hate as a reaction. But nothing can grow on hate, and no happiness can be built on the suffering of others. It’s important to remember that, then the hate will be less scary, it won’t provoke us to hate in return. Instead, we’ll be able to respond to it more wisely. And we really need that right now.

Sorry if that was rambling. I’ve been thinking about all this for a long time and wanted to finally write something and reach out to others.

Thanks to everyone who’s written thoughtfully on difficult topics, be it more personal or more political. Thanks to Naomi (and her most recent post) for the spark that finally allowed me to write this part of the post.

* This dress. I blame Siobhan.


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I write about sewing, knitting, and may sometimes be tempted to talk about books.

10 thoughts on “Flaurel (and maybe a farewell)”

  1. Lovely! I think it works both as a dress and also as a top. I’d never know it was under the skirt and it looks very Paris in the Springtime that way. I particularly like the keyhole neckline – that definitely makes it. Bridget would approve.

    I very much agree with the second half of your post. I’m still getting used to the cultural situation here. The fact that my homeland and my new home share a common language can delude people (including me) into believing the two cultures are interchangeable. But they’re most certainly not and I find many aspects of the national culture here bemusing and hard to digest. I mean this in reference to your comment on the “two sides” and that “It’s heartbreaking to see people follow someone who seems to be waving a flag they like without asking any questions.” I couldn’t agree more and my little brain struggles with the concept that because you agree with ONE thing a side stands for (or perhaps your family/husband/wife/community does), that therefore anything else that group trots out as a policy or guideline is acceptable. This is crazy stuff and I will tell you that it put me in quite a funk at the end of last year.

    Incidentally, I don’t mean that what’s going on in my own country is anything to be proud of either – we have quite the dilemma there too. As you say though, it’s important to be kind. It’s important to be calm and understanding. There is legitimacy on both sides of the situation and people need to reach out to the other side and understand why people feel and act the way they do. There’s so much misinformation (nobody can be in any doubt about that by now, surely!) on both sides and people have more in common that they might believe. I’ve seen good suggestions on practical things you can do (picking up the phone to the local authorities for example – make your voice heard). That helps me feel more grounded.

    I could ramble on about this for days, but suffice it to say that I enjoyed the post. We had our first spring-like day yesterday and it cheered me up immensely. I hope one appears all the way over there soon for you too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this wonderful response, Claire ❤

      I really only know about what's going on in Scotland right now from articles I can find online and from friends who live in Edinburgh (so not that much). It seems that, overall, the Scottish parliament's response to Scotland's non-UK residents has been at least heartening though not exactly substantive… which may be it can't have been anyway since those non-UK residents are finding themselves in uncharted legal territory. No one planned for Brexit, least of all those who called for it, and as a result no one and nothing is prepared for it.

      Still, in terms of resistance and community, it was the segment from Scotland on the Samantha Bee show that really lifted my spirits last week. Some honest talk there. Not to mention people actually asking for evidence and not accepting distractions.

      But back to sewing: I might just end up wearing this with the skirt more often than as a dress.

      Sending you virtual hugs.


      1. I’m very impressed at your Scottish knowledge Kamila! You probably know more than most Scots. 🙂 But yes, I suppose I was referring to the UK as a whole (May, Boris and the Brexit catastrophe). I certainly have some pride to be Scottish in all this. It seems we are living up to our reputation of skepticism and pragmatism, even if it is slightly easier to do so from a position of lesser power perhaps. Long may it continue. Now I will research Polish politics as you have shamed me. 😀


        1. No, please don’t feel shamed in any way! The interest and impetus to keep myself informed is partly connected to my educational background — but that, in turn of course, was connected to an interest that was already there. And Polish politics is so dismal these days, you’d be better off not delving into it. I’m just hoping that darkness passes, too.

          Come to think of it, the chorus in my mind these days comes from the wonderful Old English poem “The Wanderer”: “This, too, shall pass.” Let’s hope so, anonymous bard, let’s hope so.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. You and my lovely suppliers of Burda magazines 😉 I think it’s a strategy that should cut down the required amount of muslining by at least a bit. I need to get back to tweaking the back of the Burda bodice to fit my (apparently, from the perspective of how most patterns are drafted) freakishly wide back. Just need time and patience 😉

      Thanks for passing on that pattern. Those French darts look interesting. I have a sheath dress pattern from Burda with similarly shaped darts: http://www.burdastyle.com/pattern_store/patterns/long-sleeve-sheath-dress-112015

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful post! So much to say, I don’t know where to start and I don’t want to ramble.
    First the dress: Beautiful. I love floral prints on a dark background. Pairing it with the skirt is an awesome idea.

    The world situation: Here’s where I have too much to say. I’ll limit it to just a couple of things. I think the reason so many people act out or just troll social media instead of acting in a positive way is that they don’t know what to do to make a positive difference. Write our representatives, join a protest, carry a sign? These things might make a difference when huge numbers of people do them but on an individual level they can seem like an empty gesture. We all think, “I’m just one person, a nobody. Who’s going to pay attention to me?”
    Second thing. I have been reading Helliconia Spring by Brian Aldiss and came across this very relevant line: “Life has a quality rulers cannot touch.” This won’t do anything for the world situation but for us as individuals it could help us deal with the terrible things that we see on the news if we try to focus on those aspects of life that governments cannot touch – family, friendships, sewing and other kinds of creating.


    1. Thank you, Lynn! That’s such a great quote, and I really appreciate your thoughts on where we are in the world right now. I can definitely relate to that sense of confusion and that feeling of being overwhelmed. But, as you point out, however small we might think our lives are, what we do, how we think of others and how we treat them, all that matters. And those things aren’t really small, and they’re definitely not insignificant — those are the building blocks of our reality. (I definitely need to look up that Aldiss novel!)

      And thank you for the compliments on the dress.


  3. What a gorgeous dress!! The print is divine. I love it just as a dress by itself, I don’t think you necessarily need the skirt although it looks pretty cool worn like that too! I love for clothes to be versatile

    Liked by 1 person

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