Stockpiling Summer Dresses in Lockdown

Just before the lockdown started and I lost my dressmaking mojo I completed this Cheyenne Tunic from Hey June Patterns.

If you think it looks familiar and you follow Love Lucie, you are right.  She made a monkey one too in a sort of burnt orange colour and, although I admired it and had already made the pattern up once myself in a double gauze fabric, I had no plans to add monkeys to my wardrobe.

Then I went shopping in Toulouse – aah, those were the days – and saw the same fabric in both this golden yellow colour and a dusky pink.  So, despite the fact that I probably wouldn’t have paid it much attention in the normal course of events, I recalled Lucie’s lovely version and felt it was fate and had to buy some.  My friend advised against the pink as she said it didn’t do me any favours.  She was actually more specific than that but suffice it to say it was enough to make me decide on the yellow and feel vaguely depressed about my complexion.

Shortly after I’d finished it we went into lockdown and it just sat forlornly on the mannequin.  Well, as forlornly as something yellow covered in monkeys can look.   So I lost my dressmaking mojo.   The only thing I thought I might do, as I had the pattern, denim and all the trimmings already purchased, was make another pair of jeans.  Luckily, this idea was superceded which is just as well as any jeans I make now will, hopefully, be too big for me when Mr. Tialys is able to go back to work in the U.K. and leave me to resume the minimal feeding/drinking/baking I usually employ when left alone and don’t have a six foot four male to take into consideration.

Last year I made a clutch of summer dresses and don’t need any more.  In fact, I instructed Mr. Tialys, and anybody else who will allow me to give them instructions, not to let me make any more summer dresses.

There was a pattern that caught my eye though.  It had 20% off.  I knew I already had some fabric that would be perfect for it.  I often ignore instructions even when I’ve asked for them.  So, I bought the pattern even though that same honest friend told me the style probably wouldn’t suit my shape as it has a fitted bust and high waistline so would make me look ‘all bosom’.   This time, I didn’t let her sway me although I decided to make the dress a size bigger than usual forgetting that, when I do that, it usually fits me round the bust but is too big everywhere else and I lowered the waistline forgetting that I have quite a short waist so a high waist drafted for a normally waisted person is not high on me. So then, I had to do alterations which I hate with a passion.

I took the shoulder seam up which hoiked the waist up but also the darts so I had to shorten them.  Then I had to alter the sleeve armscyes so they would match up.  Then, there was too much ease in the back because, a) there should be ties on the back of the dress which I don’t like so didn’t add which meant the ease was sitting there not being used and b) I’d made it too big for me anyway.  So, I added darts in the back.  It’s practically a whole different dress!

Love the pockets!

Having faffed about with the pattern to make it both fit and suit me, I thought I might as well make another one and, this time, I would finally get around to learning how to do an FBA (full bust adjustment) so that I could make the smaller size I need but accommodate my embonpoint as the French so delicately put it.  This is yet another valuable skill I now have thanks to lockdown.  Some of the others are choosing really bad films to watch on Netflix and not realising how bad they are until halfway through, becoming very discerning about how dark dark chocolate needs to be before I will eat it and how to avoid cooking/dog walking/shopping whilst having somebody else in the house who will do it instead.

Anyway, with FBA skills now in hand, I proceeded to make a sleeveless version of Megan Nielsen’s Darling Range dress – for that is the pattern of which I speak – in some other fabric I already had and, although it is pink, it is brighter and has a lot of black in it so will not hopefully have the same effect as the pink monkeys.

I still added back darts rather than use a tie on this version .  The sleeveless hack requires some bias facing which I did in the same fabric.

Some restrictions are supposed to be lifted here in France as of tomorrow.  At the very least we are not going to need a permission slip – filled in and signed by ourselves 🙄 – to leave the house and, although the ‘ladies that lunch’ lifestyle that a lot of people fondly imagine I enjoy, won’t be resuming any time soon, at least I’ll have dresses for when it does.

And monkeys of course.


Have you used your time in lockdown to learn any new skills?

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  1. #1 by nanacathy2 on May 10, 2020 - 13:35

    I love your new frocks and if you want pink you wear pink! New skills- knowing how to move house while under lockdown, is that a thing? Now where’s the bleach? You enjoy your new freedom, but keep washing those hands and stay safe.

    • #2 by tialys on May 10, 2020 - 13:58

      To be fair, I think she was right about the dusty pink, hopefully the brighter pink with a lot of black isn’t too ‘draining’.
      Yes, definitely, moving house under lockdown must count as a skill even though it’s one you will hopefully never need again.

  2. #3 by Jamie@hookthisweavethat on May 10, 2020 - 13:39

    Glad you got some mojo back. Those dresses are great.

  3. #5 by Wild Daffodil on May 10, 2020 - 15:06

    No new skills, just tootling along as normal, only more relaxed.
    Love the Monkey tunic. I haven’t worn a dress for so long, they seem a sort of alien piece of apparel to me. To be honest I have worn the same 3 or 4 things for the last 8 weeks so everything else seems pretty alien. 🙂

    • #6 by tialys on May 10, 2020 - 16:57

      Me too. Joggers, loose jeans (though not as loose as they were at the start), and jumpers or t-shirts have been the order of the day. I did dress up and put mascara on when I went to Lidl yesterday though as it was the closest thing to a social occasion I’ve had for a couple of weeks.🤣

  4. #7 by claire93 on May 10, 2020 - 15:14

    love your yellow monkey shirt. And I also love both dresses. I don’t know if I’d have tackled a pattern with some many button holes lol, but I think both look really good on you, even the blue one, although you say it’s too loose. I like things a bit loose, especially in warmer weather.
    I sadly haven’t learned any new skills during confinement, but I do feel I made good use of my time finishing off large yarny projects such as the CAL blankie and my chunky cardie.
    We’re not planning on rushing out to celebrate tomorrow either. Just glad things are easing up slightly and that I won’t need that darned “attestation” every time I take the dog out!

    • #8 by tialys on May 10, 2020 - 16:53

      The blue one isn’t too bad now I’ve done those alterations and, as you say, if we have a hot Summer like last year a little bit of ease won’t go amiss.
      The good thing is, I can get both of them on and off without actually undoing any of the buttons. If I’d known that, I would just have sewn them on as decoration and not bothered with the buttonholes 😁
      Yes, that attestation is a pain. Did you ever get stopped and asked for it? We never did – I don’t think I ever even saw a policeman on my, admittedly, limited outings.

      • #9 by claire93 on May 10, 2020 - 19:16

        a shame you went to all that work with the buttonholes that you don’t actually need BUT at least you know they all work.
        And nope, I’ve wasted so much paper & ink with these “attestations” over the past weeks (since I don’t have a Smartphone so can’t do the paperless option) and neither husband nor myself have ever been stopped & checked.

  5. #10 by Lindashee on May 10, 2020 - 15:40

    While I wouldn’t have though much of a monkey fabric I think it makes a very lovely shirt – That’s where my garment making skills take a hit and why I find it hard to make myself sew anything, sometimes the fabric may not look like much until it’s sewn into a piece. (Sometimes I have fabrics I find lovely and just can’t find a suitable idea for what to make it into) – Those are very lovely dresses too as they’re simple and flaterring at the same time.

    • #11 by tialys on May 10, 2020 - 16:48

      I must admit, I might not have taken the leap with the monkeys had I not already seen it made up.

  6. #12 by kathyreeves on May 10, 2020 - 16:09

    Your FBA is spot on, the fit on that dress is spectacular, and I bet it is much more comfortable too! New skills for me would be movie making…not fancy, but enough to make the kids’ recital a reality, and maybe duck mother…I have to clean their box and let them swim yet again today!

    • #13 by tialys on May 10, 2020 - 16:45

      Thanks Kathy – that means a lot coming from you.
      I haven’t got round to viewing your recital yet but I will and, as for being a duck mother, the proof of your skill is definitely there for all to see as they grow up big and strong. Will they follow you around as I always thought hand reared duckies would do – or am I being too fanciful?

      • #14 by kathyreeves on May 10, 2020 - 17:34

        You are very welcome, Lynn, you really did a fab job on that fitting! As for my little ducklings, I fear they love each other much more than they love me, but I am hoping that maybe they will follow me once they are outside in the garden, just because I am familiar and the garden is not. It’s probably a good thing, or they would spend the summer crying for me, which will not work!

  7. #15 by onecreativefamily on May 10, 2020 - 16:11

    I love the top but the dress looks so comfortable. You are making me re think making myself some fresses

    • #16 by tialys on May 10, 2020 - 16:43

      Thank you – I think these will be very handy in the heat of Summer.

  8. #18 by katechiconi on May 10, 2020 - 19:40

    I do like that blue dress! I suspect that you no longer fear buttonholes as much after all that practice, so you should count that as another skill acquired. The pink/black dress would probably feature the embonpoint even less if your photographer had not shot it from below and seemingly focussed on precisely those attributes…! Bravo for making good use of your isolation time, hurrah for slowly lifting restrictions, and bring on more excuses for wearing mascara (not that I ever do, but having scored an actual haircut I’m a firm advocate of the moral boosting effect of a spot of personal decoration and maintenance).

    • #19 by tialys on May 11, 2020 - 10:39

      I shall have a word with my photographer. He was going a bit ‘David Bailey’ on me and getting into all sorts of poses himself as he struggled to photograph a 5’2″ person from his 6’4″ perpective.
      I have had a fair amount of buttonhole experience recently as, if you remember, I made said photographer several formal(ish) shirts but, when I had to put them in jeans, I did experience some difficulties and bought a stabiliser plate for my buttonhole attachment which gives me a bit more confidence. They still scare me a little though as they are generally the last thing to be done and that would be a bad time to go wrong so I take ages marking them all out correctly .
      I really need the hairdressers to open but have no idea how long the wait for an appointment will be when they do.

  9. #20 by Kim on May 10, 2020 - 19:46

    I think the monkeys are fabulous, as are all of your makes. Well done mastering the FBA! You will be able to enjoy all of these before too much longer (she said with fingers crossed!)

    • #21 by tialys on May 11, 2020 - 10:30

      Hmm, you must have been a bit disappointed then after last night’s Boris Broadcast.

      The FBA is something I knew I needed but kept putting it off. I can generally get away without doing it on most garments but when something has darts and buttons – especially buttons – it’s really a necessary alteration for me.

      • #22 by Kim on May 11, 2020 - 11:18

        I’m waiting to read the details this morning to understand fully. I m missing hugs.

      • #23 by tialys on May 11, 2020 - 11:28

        Good luck with the understanding fully!!
        You might be missing hugs but I’m hoping the kissing frenzy in France will disappear. It’s a complicated business anyway and I’m not keen on having to kiss virtual strangers. Also, I’m convinced the reason the French take two hours for lunch is because it takes half an hour to kiss everybody at the table when you arrive and another half an hour to kiss everybody again when you leave.

      • #24 by Kim on May 11, 2020 - 16:22

        Yes, I’m struggling to understand the full implications of yesterday’s announcement. I think I’ll just continue as I am for now. The Management would be happy for me to have another hugging victim though . Thank goodness I don’t have to suffer the French kissing strangers that you describe!

  10. #25 by thecontentedcrafter on May 10, 2020 - 23:12

    Crikey! (Oh, I seem to have been overtaken by an Australian spectre) that’s an impressive list of skills. I would never ever, ever consider buying a) bright yellow fabric or b) fabric with monkeys on….. and yet there you are looking gorgeously sunny, comfortable and fun!! I may have to review my list of restrictions 🙂 All your frocks (more Australianese) look great, you wear them well and clearly you know how to adjust patterns!

    As our Government announces today whether or not we will open up a bit more and by how much – and when – I realise I am in no hurry to return to society. I have enjoyed my quiet, contemplative days of pottering with no demands on my time or attention from anyone other than close friends, immediate family and the occasional blog writer. Sounds terrible doesn’t it – but I think my new learned skill is how to live as a hermit in suburbia. I also got my painting mojo back and a new work is advancing at a slow and gentle pace – there’s no need to rush is there, tomorrow will inevitably come and bring with it the inevitable change that all tomorrows hold.

    • #26 by tialys on May 11, 2020 - 10:27

      Now, I don’t remember seeing ‘yellow fabric with colobus monkeys on it’ when I asked in a recent post what was on your ‘never, ever’ list. 😉

      I didn’t realise ‘Crikey’ was Australian in origin – I thought it was something the posh kids used to say at school, rather than employ the more colourful exclamations used by yours truly. I’m not so sure about ‘frock’ though. I tend to use ‘frock’ for ‘dress’ when I’m being vaguely tongue in cheek as it’s rather an old fashioned word but I believe (because Google has now told me) that it originates from the practice of de-frocking a priest in days of old.

      I already had the skill of living as a hermit and I’m a bit worried how that will pan out if/when I end up living back in the U.K. again as life as a recluse isn’t quite as easy when the population tends to be a bit more squished together than in rural France.

      • #27 by thecontentedcrafter on May 11, 2020 - 10:51

        I was kind of hoping you might have forgotten about that list! But still, you are perfectly correct about that yellow fabric with monkeys not appearing on my never ever list – but only because never, in my wildest dreams, had it occurred to me that might be something presented to me as a possibility. I shall now have to amend the fact that I don’t have a never ever list to ‘the only thing on my never-ever list is yellow fabric with monkeys on…..’ As to ‘crikey’ it may well have started life in the UK’s posher parts but it was quickly adopted by the Aussies. If you just watch the first 10 seconds of this, you’ll get the idea They all say it 🙂 We are opening up again over the coming week. I’m a bit sad about it – and wouldn’t be surprised if there is a resurgence in cases – but Jacinda has said let’s try it so we will. Though I’ll continue to stay away from society for a bit longer in my comfy cave.

      • #28 by tialys on May 11, 2020 - 11:14

        Well, wherever it originated, ‘Crikey’ has probably been more thoroughly adopted by the Australians than anyone else. Bless Steve Irwin, I miss his enthusiastic nature programmes.

  11. #29 by Laurie Graves on May 10, 2020 - 23:33

    Phew, I am pooped out reading about all the hard work. That yellow tunic with the monkeys is snappy. And how lovely that dress is. You are a wonder, that’s what you are.

    • #30 by tialys on May 11, 2020 - 10:15

      Yes, sorry for the technical bits. I know some people are interested in the process (Kate for instance) whereas other people just want to see the finish. I try to cater for all tastes by throwing in a bit of humour here and there.

      • #31 by Laurie Graves on May 11, 2020 - 16:28

        Not at all! I am fascinated by the process. And in awe of what you do. Write on!

  12. #32 by cedar51 on May 11, 2020 - 03:10

    I’ve extended some of my art skills, and the most VIP extension has been cooking and then baking. Having had someone else select the food supplies via generic box lots or a helper (who sometimes can’t get xyz) has been entertaining. A group of products that came together in last food box, intrigued me no end – and I’m looking forward in the future, to extending that skill base.

    never thought of monkeys on fabric, but the outfit looks really awesome – it’s bound to be talking point when you’ve out there wearing it…

    • #33 by tialys on May 11, 2020 - 10:14

      It’s quite challenging, but let’s call it exciting, to have to decide what to make for dinner using what somebody else has chosen. If nothing else comes out of this lockdown, my younger daughter has decided to start baking and I have been encouraging her by sending her various bits of equipment. I’m hoping the baking will soon expand to include making actual meals which will get her further along the road to independence.

  13. #34 by DawnGillDesigns on May 11, 2020 - 10:36

    such incredible skill. I hope to add crochet granny squares to my (significantly shorter) list by the time this is all over.

    • #35 by tialys on May 11, 2020 - 10:47

      You will be a crochet hero once you’ve worked your way through that CAL. It’s a brilliant project to expand your skills with all those different squares – to say nothing of the joining and the beautiful border.

      • #36 by DawnGillDesigns on May 11, 2020 - 12:34

        lol, that’s what i’m hoping! Thanks for the encouragement.

  14. #37 by Dartmoor Yarns on May 13, 2020 - 19:56

    The monkey shirt looks fabulous. Funny isn’t it how different fabric looks once made up?!

    • #38 by tialys on May 14, 2020 - 11:36

      Yes and sometimes it’s nice to make something that’s a bit more fun too although I might not have been so brave if I hadn’t seen somebody else’s version first.

  15. #39 by Emmely on May 19, 2020 - 17:34

    I also look horrible in pink and that’s not my fault, it’s pinks fault! Blue is much better anyway. I did a colourworkshop several years ago with a woman who shows you with differently coloured fabrics which ones look good on you. I found it very useful, instead of just buying fabric because I like it I now also consider whether the colour will work with my skintone.

    I learned how to make bread, somewhat out of necessity because I am a bread snob who doesn’t like the supermarket bread but we couldn’t go to the bakery because we all had a cold. It’s a good skill to have though, I’ll probably continue using it.

    • #40 by tialys on May 20, 2020 - 10:40

      Nothing like home made bread, still warm from the oven. You should definitely keep it up.

      • #41 by Emmely on May 20, 2020 - 14:40

        Just made another one today. Hmmmmm!

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