A Sunny Stitch for St Tropez

McCalls M6887 Bandol

‘Just got in from the windy city, the windy city is mighty pretty…’ ‘Wait, what?’ I hear you say! ‘But – the title? I thought this was about Provence, not Chicago?!’ And you would be right. Where you would be wrong is in thinking (as I did) that Provence is an invariably balmy, bright and sunny place. No, friends, it is a place where the wind is ever-ready to turn you into a flustered knicker-flasher. It is a place where you take a pedalo out for a romantic hour on a lake and end up pedalling for your life in the midst of a terrifying thunderstorm, convinced you are soon going to be the next entry in the Darwin Awards for undignified demise. It is not, as it turns out, the best place for lightweight lawn sundresses.

Which is all I’d packed.

Ok, so it wasn’t a wash-out all the time. As you can see, we did track down some sunshine on the Cote d’Azur, and I did manage to crack out a newly-made sundress or two.

Our impromptu road trip to Wales had scuppered my holiday sewing plans somewhat, and I ended up (surprise, surprise) scrabbling around late on Wednesday night. J came over with his suitcase; I continued to sew. J went to bed; I continued to sew. We set our alarms for 4.45am; I continued to sew. The clock struck midnight and my dinner-less stomach rumbled in return; I continued to sew. I lost a button and nearly cried; I continued to sew. Finally, around 1am, I was done! 2 dresses, pressed and packed. I still had to eat dinner and wash my hair before bed, and it was only 3-odd hours until we had to get up again, but hey – sleep is what train journeys are for.

The dresses in question were my McCalls 6887 and my Liberty lawn Hampton Wedding Vogue hack. Pictured above and below is M6887, in gorgeous Atelier Brunette lawn from Sew Over It. One might even say the colour is lavender blue – perfect for Provence. I squeezed the dress out of 1.5m, in spite of the directional pattern (this way up it’s waves and sunsets; upside down it’s like a scene from The Birds), and didn’t line it but used bias binding to finish the edges. The weight is perhaps a little on the light side for this dress, especially unlined, but it works perfectly in hot weather.

McCalls M6887 Bauduen
Whilst other bloggers choose gorgeous backgrounds for their photos, I opt for a wonky, bashed-in, cobweb-infested poor excuse for a door. But it was in rural France, so we’ll call it ‘rustic chic’.

If you want to know the real lowdown on the construction of this dress, Lladybird’s gone into it in amazing detail as part of the 2015 Outfit-Along. All I would add is that the bust sizing really is confusing; my measurements suggested I make up an A-B cup (I mean, really?? I wear Es or Fs most of the time, so A-B seemed completely wrong) but the instructions also said that the difference between my back and bust measurements put me in the C-cup range. Figuring it would be easier to tighten up a C-cup fit than enlarge an A-B, I went for the larger sizing. It was far too generous and I did end up reducing the size, so next time I’ll be following the finished measurements and going with the A-B.

The back was also rather wide, with the cut-out reaching almost to my side seams, resulting in a bit of an interior mess and small side gapes which you can just spot if you’re looking closely.

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This photo illustrates why I can be cautious about clothes that draw attention to my back. I’ve mentioned before I have mild scoliosis, and you can really see here how the zip is sitting to the right of my spine, which is weirdly curving to the left, in spite of the fact that I’m standing relatively straight. BUT the zip does still sit in line with the centre back buttons, so thankfully the effect is more one of slouching than of twisty-twisty spine.

Predictably, haste equals error, especially middle-of-the-night haste, and there are a few things I could be happier with in this dress. My machine tension was all over the place, and I’ve never been on good terms with the tension dial so just let it do its thang. I also messed up one buttonhole so it’s wider than the other. But meh, life goes on.

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The only thing I really want to change is the waist – the skirt is simply too wide across the back. There are three seams in the back skirt, as well as the side seams of course, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to take in the excess without losing its lovely fullness and drape. When I adjust that I’ll try and resolve those side gapes too.

It was interesting when I wore a couple of older handmade dresses on the holiday, and they made me realise how my sewing standards have risen, and how much more relaxed/sloppy I used to be about symmetry, fit etc.

Anyways. I won’t bore you with the full details of our trip, having already bored you with the full details of just one outfit, but here are a few pics to whet your appetite should you be thinking of taking the new Eurostar service to Marseille…

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St Tropez – much lovelier than one might imagine
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To think that a train from Kings Cross can take you to this!
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What is it about French markets that makes photographing them irresistible? And why is that cheese so blue? Je ne sais pas, mes amis, je ne sais pas…
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Yes, I climbed up a rubble-strewn Calanque in a Liberty halter-neck dress and matching broderie-anglaise Keds. I wasn’t lying when I said all I packed was sundresses. The other walkers we saw were mostly wearing hiking boots and carrying poles – I kid you not. It was hard going, and sometimes I was on all fours, but boy did I feel like a pretty prancing mountain pony when I reached the top!

In all, we visited Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, the Gorge du Verdon, St Tropez and Bandol, so if anyone wants any travel tips for these places I’d be happy to oblige. And to close, a sneak peek of my Hampton Wedding Vogue hacked mash-up, hopefully to be blogged soon… Here’s to sunshine, everyone!

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6 thoughts on “A Sunny Stitch for St Tropez

  1. Love the photos! You look gorgeous ❀

    And can't wait to hear about Hampton Wedding. I think you should have bought some of the extraordinary red and blue cheese to go with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The photos are great and I loved the stories of your adventures, the sewing ones included. You’re quite a courageous lady to be sewing two dresses the night of your travel! But I can understand that sleep is for the weak and dresses are for winners. Yours are definitely great! I hope all the adjustments go well with the lavender one.

    Liked by 1 person

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