The After Dark shirt

Halloween is one of my favourite times of the year. I have always loved the colours of autumn and crashing my way through drifts of crisp, freshly fallen leaves wherever I walk. Of course, it is also the time of year when you can bring out your knitted scarves, and let’s face it – what’s not to love about that? After the swishy cotton dresses of summer there’s something nice about the step change that autumn brings … and a wardrobe of tights, leggings, cardis and boots.

As you know, I love any excuse to dress up, so Halloween and Christmas rarely go by without an outfit sewn specially for the occasion. This year we had an early Halloween party to attend, so it was time to search for some spooky fabric that would fit the bill. This amazing Alexander Henry After Dark fabric was one of the first to catch my eye. It is a really intense salmony pink background covered in inky black gothic motifs – from crows to skulls. Just amazing. I ordered 4 metres from Fabric Yardand it plopped through the letterbox the very next morning. The plan was to make a lined A-line mini skirt for me and a short sleeve shirt for A. (I know, matchy matchy is a little bit ‘Howard & Hilda’, but I thought this was the exception to the rule).

McCalls-6044-Alexander-Henry_after-dark-shirt_composite

As usual, I underestimated the amount I would need to fiddle to get the pattern to match. After pinning and unpinning, cursing and tantrums, I had to conceed it was never gonna happen. I cut as judiciously as possible, but in the end I had to cut the sleeves out on the sideways rather than lengthways grain, just to get all the pattern pieces cut. Finally, I headed for the sewing machine.

*Pause*

What’s the pause for? That’s for the four hours I spent sewing lovely pockets in my A-line skirt, doing beautiful perfect french seams and topstitching, pressing and finishing. I had made the skirt from New Look 6106, the same pattern as the Fish Skirt, so it was a breeze. Well, until I tried it on. The moral of the story is don’t get cocky with your sewing. Why not? Because it will come and kick you in the arse!

For some reason, I decided that I didn’t need to look at the pattern. Why? Because it was pretty straightforward and I’d made it twice before. This was a MISTAKE. In my wisdom I had discarded the pattern pieces for the waistband facing on the skirt because I wouldn’t need them … after all, I was going to line it fully instead. Except that those pieces, as well as being the facings, were also a deep waistband feature on the skirt that I totally missed off. I tried on my new skirt … it fell off. I couldn’t understand what had gone wrong and grabbed the Fish Skirt from the wardrobe to compare, and then I noticed the missing waistband feature. Noooooo!

What’s even worse is that I had totally run out of fabric by this point, with nary a scrap of the print left. I got so pissed off I bundled up the skirt, threw it into the sewing graveyard (the place badly sewn garment go to die) and ordered some new fabric online.

*Moving on*

I started afresh with the shirt, and paid attention to the pattern, even though I made it before (it’s the same pattern as my Dad’s Seaside version). Actually, this McCalls pattern is growing on me as it’s so quick to run up and has a limited amount of handstitching (always a bonus). It came out really well in this print, despite the non matchyness on the fronts. I do love that I managed to feature the large spider motif on the back. The only contrast I used was to pick put the inner collar facing in a solid black. Hmm, such a lovely design feature (I had run out of the print by this point).

McCalls-6044-Alexander-Henry_after-dark-shirt_final-1

So, here’s A in his new After Dark shirt, looking suitably Halloweeny next to the scary mausoleum. The ensemble went down really well at our early Halloween dinner party. As for me, I made myself a cutesy skirt from some lovely Stitchy Witchy fabric.

There’s one last reason I love Halloween week especially, and that’s because it was when I met my bloke. I was drawing trolls at the time (no, really), hundreds of the bloody things, for a children’s book. Once my hand had gripped a pencil for so many days in a row it had become a weird claw thing, I finally caved in and took an evening off to meet A for a drink. The rest, as they say, is history. On Halloween Eve it will be seven years since we first met. Here’s to you, bloke. We have been through some extraordinary things in the last seven years (a stage 4 cancer diagnosis, redundancy, new career, getting married, a new business, the accident, a new charity and lots & lots of hospitals) but it has been completely amazing. Can you even imagine what adventures we’ll have in the next seven? You are awesome.

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Colour mad designer rampages gleefully through the world of plus size sewing! Oh, and there may be shoes … and cats.

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