Wednesday, 9 November 2016

FO: Taboo

Hi everyone, how've you all been?  Winter is on it's way here and as the temperature has been dropping and the nights drawing in I've wanted to do nothing but curl up and knit or spin.  I've got quite a lot done so I figured it was about time I checked in here and showed off my work.

So, as of my last post I was eagerly awaiting the first clue for the Boo Knits Halloween MKAL, Taboo.  That is now all done and dusted and I very proudly finished it a few days after the final clue was released.  The schedule was pretty fast paced, with clues arriving every few days which I personally really liked because it meant I wasn't juggling a second project in between clues.  I'll confess that I wasn't really loving the first clue, 8 repeats of the same column of lace started to get old quite quickly but subsequent clues were much more fun.

The second clue brought in the second colour and I was eager to see how it would be incorporated.  I'd been a little worried that my DIY dye job wouldn't work out, but I'm really pleased with the way it looks and I'm glad I didn't add in a whole bunch of other colours.  I love the wavy effect that the little stripes introduce without it being too jarring.

I'm also pretty happy with my beads, I had toyed with the idea of matching them to the darkest pink of my variegated yarn but I couldn't find any that I liked so I went with an ivory colour instead.  They are quite subtle but are not completely lost in the fabric.  There are loads of them too, so my shawl makes a very satisfying clattering sound when I plonk it down on a table.

When the final clue arrived I saw that it ended with the dreaded picot bind off.  I strongly considered skipping it and just using a crochet bind off instead but in the end I decided to be a good girl and complete the pattern as written.  On the 3rd day of binding off I very much regretted this decision and realised that frankly I'm not really all that into picots so I won't be bothering again.  Lesson learned, but I do feel a certain amount of pride that I actually got to the end without throwing the whole thing out of the window.

So, interminable bind off done I blocked out my masterpiece and prepared to wear proudly....except I can't because it's been claimed!

The whole time I was knitting this Felicity kept asking things like "Mummy is that my pink sclarf?" and "Mummy is my pink sclarf finished?".  It turns out that she was entirely serious and every time I've tried to wear it she goes bananas and pulls it off me.  I'm hoping she'll forget about it soon, but for the time being I have to concede that she does look mighty cute in it, even if no 2 year old is really in need of their very own 100% silk scarf!  I do have plenty of leftovers though, so if it turns out I don't have enough left for a full on adult shawl then I may consider whipping her up a slightly more toddler friendly neck covering instead.

Cheeky little beggar!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Taboo Related Stash Enhancement

Boo mania continues to be affecting me here.  I'm a very few rows away from finishing an Almost Autumn (still diligently working my way through the Close to You collection) and I'm hoping that I'll get it  done before the first clue for the Taboo MKAL arrives on Saturday.  Signing up for the MKAL a few weeks ago basically led to me falling down the brand new (to me) rabbit hole of laceweight yarn, something I didn't really have in my stash and now I'm completely obsessed with it.  Wanna see some pretties?

The Taboo pattern is designed for two yarns, one a solid and the other a variegated incorporating the colour of the solid.  You can use either as the main yarn with the other only being used a small amount.  Obviously my first reaction was to completely disregard this and go for Knit Picks Gloss Lace in two different solids.  After seeing everyone else's choices I realised this probably wasn't the way to go but I won't plan any other projects with these yarns until I see the finished shawl because you never know, it might still work out.  I chose shiny grey beads to tie the two yarns together.

While I spent a good amount of time ogling the recommended Wild Silk yarn on the Miss Babs website I decided that I really couldn't justify the shipping and probable customs charges involved in purchasing so I did the only semsible thing and ordered some undyed yarn from World of Wool and had a go at dyeing up something wonderful myself.  I got a skein of Merino/Tussah which I've already used to knit Rainshine and a skein of 100% Tussah silk for Taboo.  I wound off about 20g and reskeined it to dye my variegated yarn B leaving around 80g to dye in a solid.

In case it isn't screamingly obvious I went for a pinkish sort of theme.  I was aiming to match the large skein to the dark pink colour in the small skein but I got bored of adding colouring and decided I could live with the lighter shade.  I they look really quite nice together in the skein, fingers crossed they look awesome knitted up.  I've chosen pearly white beads to hopefully bring everything together nicely.
Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in Magenta
Last but not least, I thought I'd better feed some more laceweight to the stash  because I have a feeling I'm going to have lace shawls in my system for a while longer.  Deramores had a sale that I could not resist recently and two lace lovelies found themselves winging their way to me last week.  With a good percentage of silk this yarn is ridiculously shiny and gorgeous and I can't wait to knit it.  I'd been a bit concerned about the Wine Gum colour as I'd seen some photos where it looked amazing and others where it looked a bit drab and underwhelming.  I needn't have worried because it is glorious, I'm not normally a lover of green but this is completely winning me over.  The magenta is also fab, but I knew I'd love that because Magenta!
Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in Wine Gum
So that's my little bit of stash enhancement, nearly 5000m worth but it's laceweight so that's hardly anything!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

FO: Rainshine

In the wake of last week's casting off disaster I decided to get straight back on the horse and knit another lacy and beaded shawl.  Not wanting to entirely visit the scene of the crime, however, I plumped for a different pattern by the same designer.  When shawl fever first hit me I purchased the Boo Knits Close to You collection so I simply moved on to the second pattern in the e-Book, Rainshine.
I chose this one for a couple of reasons, firstly it is knit in laceweight which I am suddenly quite flush with (stash acquisition post coming up soon!) and secondly it does not have the picot bind off that was taking me about a million years on Heaven Scent.  With hindsight the crochet cast off that I used instead was still a pretty lengthy process but I definitely wasn't ready to picot again so soon!
I picked a laceweight Merino/tussah silk blend that I bought undyed from World of Wool and dyed myself with food colouring.  To be honest I was going for a much deeper blue but this is nice enough. I paired it with turquoise beads which match quite nicely because I was going for a subtle effect.  Unfortunately they don't really show up too well in my photos but I'm hoping they will provide a nice little sparkle in the sunlight.
Knitting this took me way less time than I had imagined, only a week from beginning to end, including about a day spent on the bind off.  The lace was really simple and enjoyable, although I was a little sad when I realised that I didn't get to place any beads until I got to the border.  It turns out that I really like beading, weirdly.  I don't mind that it only has beads on the border, I was just really impatient to get to the beading quicker!  I really love how it turned out and although I was a little worried about how I'd actually wear it I've tried a few ways and actually think it will be very versatile.  This is good new because I think I'm now addicted to making these and have totally cast on the next one in the collection this afternoon.  I need to remember to order another set of foam mats for blocking really soon now though because I didn't really have enough space to give a shawl as brutal a blocking as I'd have liked to.
Righty ho then, I'm off.  Beads to choose and lace to knit, no time to waste!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Heaven Scent - a lament

​​My knitting mojo kind of deserted me for a while over the summer.  That wasn't a big surprise but it's always a little disappointing.  I did loads of sewing just to keep making but I always miss knitting.  Anyway now that Autumn is on the way I am all about knitting but it is still really warm here so I've done a lot less than I'd like.  Still I've found plenty of time for dreaming up projects and planning my queue and I can safely say that it is looking like it's going to be a winter of shawls this year.  I've spent far more time than is good for me recently keeping up with the Fiddle Knits fiasco that has been bubbling away on Ravelry which has done nothing but put shawls in the front and centre of my mind.  I did a couple of Fiddle Knits MKALs when Lissy was tiny and I liked but didn't love the first shawl and really wasn't feeling the second one at all so I pretty much gave up MKALs from there on out.  However, in between all of posts from people who have been disappointed by late yarn and late patterns with incorrect yardage were a lot of recommendations for well run MKALs which led me to sign up for the Boo Knits Halloween MKAL, Taboo.

I'll do another post about that once it gets going in October, but of course I decided that it would be a good idea to try out one of her other shawls before then just to get my eye in.  One reason I've never knit any Boo Knits shawls before is because they are all quite lovely and I could never decide where to start, also I knew that once I'd started I'd never know where to stop!  In the end I chose Heaven Scent, just to ease myself in with a pattern for 4-ply rather than laceweight.  I pulled some light blue DROPs Alpaca that had previously been frogged from a FiddleKnits pattern out of the stash and paired it with clear sparkly beads for a subtle shimmer.
All went well (and there's a phrase which lets you know that at some point it's all going to hell!), I was enjoying the lace, had mastered beading and was pleasantly surprised how quickly it had all knit up.  I started to cast off yesterday afternoon and was beginning to think I might have a shawl to block by the end of the day, until the reality of the picot cast off began to hit me.  Geez, I have never known knitting take so long!
Picot? Pic-NO more like!
During one little break from the never ending castoff of doom I popped my project down next to me just as Felicity jumped up on to the sofa. I quickly warned her to wait until I'd moved my knitting before she started to clamber all over me, but she paid me no mind and stepped right on it and I swear I watched in slow motion as this caused the cable of my circular needle to pop right out the back of the join leaving about 20 stitches dangling in the wind.  20 beaded lacy stitches that I was just about to cast off.
The enemy of knitting needles everywhere!
When I stopped feeling sick I pulled myself together and decided I could probably fix it, after I transferred all of the stitches on to another circular.  My fatal error at this point was to jam the cable back into the join and start transferring rather than popping the loose stitches on to a holder.  I don't really need to describe what happened next do I?
I'm now looking at about half of the live stitches flapping loose at this point and I don't have the heart to deal with it.  I tried to frog but the fuzzy alpaca yarn + picot cast off was a flipping nightmare so I've put the whole thing aside to chill until I can look at it with a rational set of eyes and decide what to do once and for all. Ugh.  What more can I say?  Have a Cassie pic so I can end on a positive note!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Big days for little people

As soon as September drew nearer I begun longing for cooler days and started planning all of my forthcoming knitting projects.  I've recently cast on 2 new projects and have a few more in the works, but that's not why I'm here today.  September has also been a big month looming on the horizon as I prepared to send both my girls off on new adventures.
So on Monday afternoon Lissy became a bona fide Pre-schooler.  With barely a backwards glance she skipped off to play leaving me in no doubt that she's no longer a baby.  I still had Cassie with me so I managed to hold it together instead of dissolving in to a weeping mess!  When I picked her up she'd had a lovely time and was ready and raring to go back again on Tuesday.  Unfortunately Cassie managed to fall flat on her face on the way home, leaving her with the very nasty looking nose scab that you might notice in all her pictures :(
Yesterday was Cassie's big day as she headed to school for the very first time.  My grown up girl went straight into her classroom and pushed me right out of the door leaving me in no doubt that she had no need for me to stay!  Some of the other kids were crying which set my tear ducts a twitching but I managed to make it out of there just about dry eyed.  I'd been furnished with this very thoughtful little pack of things to get me through her first day which really helped me to feel like I'd left her in good hands.  She also had a fab time on her first day and already seemed completely confident and comfortable by the time I came to collect her.
The last big day (at least for me) will be on Monday when both girls will be at school/preschool at the same time and I will have some actual time to myself!  I'm sure I'll miss them horribly but I'll miss them with my feet up and my knitting in my hands while catching up on all the child inappropriate tv I've not been able to watch all summer.  I may even crack open some fancy biscuits too!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Morgan Boyfriend Jeans

Over the last year or so I've had a few goes at making jeans and while I've been able to successfully construct some lovely, well made jeans none of them have been quite right on the fit front.  A few months ago I had been working on Burda 6798, I loved the style but the waist was coming out enormous while the calf area was alarmingly tight.  I'd made a few adjustments and they still weren't right and I, unfortunately have very little patience for making muslins, so I decided to risk starting at the beginning again and ordered the Closet Case Patterns Morgan Jeans. The style is similar and I figured that if it worked out then I could add the back pockets from the Burda jeans in the future, which were really the main selling point for me.
Well, you could knock me down with a feather because I made a quick muslin for the Morgan jeans and they pretty much fit me exactly out of the envelope. The only issue I had, again, was tight calves and the non issue of the cropped size fitting me as full length pants!  I had measured my calf before choosing a size, the pattern very helpfully includes finished measurements for a number of points on the body and I knew it would be close but thought I'd just squeeze in there.  Upon re-measuring both legs it turns out that my right calf is half an inch bigger than the left one and that had caused the problem.  I'm now wondering if I need to bulk up leftie to match!  Anyway, I figured that sewing the seams below the knee with a slightly smaller seam allowance would give gigantocalf enough room to move and I went ahead and cut out my denim.

My denim came from Doughty's Online and I'm really happy with it so far.  It came out of the wash with a really lovely texture and is a nice medium weight which should be good through to the end of Autumn.

The construction of these jeans was mostly straightforward.  This was my first time sewing a button fly and the directions were very clear and it came out looking neat and professional.  I will however be getting my old machine back out of retirement for the next time I make jeans with proper topstitching thread because it was a mega pain in the arse to keep changing the thread and the tension and the stitch length all the time.  I had a few issues with my machine not really liking the heavy thread so it would have been good to get the set up just right and then not fiddle with it again.  There are a few little thread nests on the inside of my jeans, but I am far too lazy to unpick and start again when it comes to stuff that no one else can see.  I used about a spool and a quarter of Guterman topstitching thread to complete these jeans, including a bit of practice sewing.
The bits I won't be talking about are the corners on the waistband (which are not my best work) and the waistband buttonhole (which caused some very prolonged swearing, followed by tears and despair).  Other that that I couldn't be more pleased.  The baby blue topstitching looks ace, the jeans fit comfortably and I'm really looking forward to trying out different design elements to make myself a mini wardrobe of Morgans.  This pattern gets a great big thumbs up from me and I'm now very, very tempted to order the Closet Case Gingers too to wear with long boots once it starts getting cooler.  I have a feeling you are going to be seeing rather a lot of jeans from me in the coming months!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Style Arc Lola

Hey, how is everyone?  It continues to be very warm here with the last couple of days being blisteringly hot by UK standards.  Except for working I’ve pretty much done nothing but sit still  and pray for rain since Tuesday.  Fortunately while it was still just warm rather than OMG! Hot! I made myself these easy breezy trousers which are lovely for hot weather.  I’ve been seeing lots of people wearing these loose patterned trousers recently and always thought they looked really comfortable but I was a bit worried that I’d look like I was wearing pyjamas so I held off from making any.  I thought that maybe I would try on some while I was out shopping a few weeks ago but Stu told me that they were all sort of horrible and I wasn’t entirely sure he was wrong so I left it.  I still couldn’t get the idea out of my head though and had some fabric that had been hanging out in my stash for years so I just got on and made them.

I plumped for the Style Arc Lola pattern for a couple of reasons. I liked that it had elastic part of the way around the waist with a flat part at the front and I liked the look of the pockets in the drawing.  I’ve had my eye of a few Style Arc patterns so I thought it would be nice to finally try one.  I’d heard that their instructions were a little on the brief side, but I figured at this point that I’ve made enough pairs of trousers to not really need them.  To a certain extent I was right but there were definitely a few points where I was left scratching my head wondering what they were trying to get me to do.
The pockets were the main area of confusion for me.  Looking at the picture I thought they were constructed like hip pockets on jeans, but I turns out that they are more like inseam pockets or at least that is the only way I could understand it.  The instructions are for sewing pockets with zips and they do say you can leave them out but offer no further help with that.  I fudged it as best I could and do have perfectly functional pockets but they do gape quite badly and I don’t know it that is because I did them wrong or if that is the reason for the zips being suggested.  Anyway, if I make these again I will just not bother with pockets and I’ve been wearing these pulled right up with a longer top that sort of holds the pockets shut a bit.

 The rest of the construction was reasonably simple.  The waistband was a bit fiddly and I’m sure there is probably a simpler way to do it, but it turned out fine.  I decided not to bother with elastic at the ankles but I’d definitely stick it in next time I think.  It just goes around the back of the ankle and my trousers do migrate down around my heel a little if I’m not wearing shoes so the elastic would have been helpful.
Ha ha, STILL have my Belladone tan line diamond on my back!
The fabric, if memory serves, is a javanaise viscose I bought ages ago.  It is a little heavier than the really floaty viscoses I’ve made dresses out of and seemed perfect for summer trousers.  I was careful to make sure that the pattern lined up on each leg by drawing around the pattern on the tissue and matching that up when I cut each piece on a single layer.  I’m not sure it’s perfect, but it’s good enough for me.  Overall I’m pretty happy with these, they are comfortable and casual and not too pyjama like so I’ll probably make some more before too long.   Stu is still not a big fan of the style, he complimented me on how well made they looked even if he couldn’t say that he liked them so at least he made an effort to find something nice to say!  He is actually my biggest cheerleader and he regularly proudly shows pictures of my handmade garments to his friends and colleagues so I think we can definitely forgive him for being a bit lukewarm about the odd garment can’t we?

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Burda 6794

With the OAL done for another year I figured I could stop feverishly knitting and concentrate on building up my summer wardrobe a bit more.  I've made a few dresses so I'm trying to bash out a few separates over the next few weeks.

I started with this button up strappy top in a floaty viscose.  I first spotted this top on the envelope of a Burda pattern for jeans, so I snapped it up when I saw it in a recent Burda half price sale.
My first thought was to make the mid length version (please note I almost certainly won't be making the cropped one any time...ever) out of one of Stu's old shirts.  This is still on the cards but I need to take the shirt apart and press out some darts and I wanted to be sure it would fit nicely before doing so.  I pulled this checked viscose out of the stash, I'd been thinking this was a little flimsy for a proper shirt but it might be perfect for this.  Frankly, this fabric has next to no body at all and was a bit of a pest to work with.  I lined everything up vertically as best I could but there are a few spots where the checks take a bit of a wander due to inaccurate cutting or stretching out.  Mostly it's not noticeable but the top of the back is quite obviously dodgy.  Oops, I completely accidentally don't have a picture of that, what a terrible thing to have forgotten!  I didn't bother matching any of the side seams because I'm lazy and it doesn't really worry me too much.
This was pretty easy to sew, there's nothing much complicated going on.  I decided not to use rouleaux straps as set out in the pattern because the thought of turning them was unappealing.  I cut the strips as per the pattern and then sewed them like belt loops, folding each side into the middle, folding along the centre and then stitching flat. They look fine.  Then, instead of turning a hem all around the top and then stitching the straps on last I used a bias facing and sandwiched the straps between the bias and the top so that it was all finished in one.  I found that way quicker and I think a bit neater too.
Then it was just a case of sewing 10 buttonholes and 10 buttons.  My new(ish) sewing machine made pretty short work of the buttonholes and I got them all reasonably even too.  When I make the next one out of the old shirt I will probably just leave the button bands in place which should make for an even quicker project.  I'm still glad I made this one first though because it is probably a size too large, even though it's perfectly wearable and I'd like the next one to be perfect.  First though I really need to sew some bottoms as I've barely any that fit and it's pointless sewing tops if you've got no bottoms!

Monday, 1 August 2016

FO: Spring Fling

Well, it's finished. But did I make it on time to enter it into this year's Outfit Along?  Believe it or not I did, In fact I finished a full 2 days before the deadline, phew!  The weather cooled down just enough for me to crack on which was nice and then Felicity projectile vomited all over the living room (stay with me here) which was not good, but meant that I had to take Friday off work because my mum refused to look after her.  That resulted in a whole day's extra knitting/sewing up time, some of which was taken up with me scrubbing the carpet and the sofa and the rug, oh and Felicity too!
So, was it worth rushing to finish?  That will be a resounding yes!  I love this cardigan.  It is so cute, is really comfortable and goes really nicely with my Belladone dress.  After last year when my chosen dress and cardigan for the OAL looked horrible together this was a huge relief.  I'm a massive fan of the yarn too, I used DROPS Loves You 7, which is 100% cotton and feels really nice to knit with.  Also it's 80p a ball and I used 3 and a bit making this cardigan cost somewhere in the region of £3.
Not only that, but it looks really nice with my Hazel dress too.
As always with DROPS patterns I started by rewriting out the directions so that they didn't make my brain hurt.  I think they took up 5 sides of A4 by the time I had finished but it was totally worth it.  I still managed to make a little mistake by reading my rewritten instructions wrong but the mistake isn't obvious so I'm not pointing it out.  I did end up changing the sleeves by leaving off the lace pattern and just leaving them plain.  I did this for a couple of reasons, firstly I decided it would be quicker and easier than trying to keep track of a lace pattern whilst simultaneously casting off 2 stitches every row and secondly the cardigan already has lots going on with the cabled rib and lace on the body so I figured it wouldn't be missed.  If I do make this again I'll probably used 2x2 ribbing with no pesky cables and then keep the lacy sleeves.
I would be tempted to make this again because this one is already proving to be a very useful garment but I think I'll have to leave it a while until I forget about needed to sew in the sleeves.  In reality it wasn't too onerous a task, but I'm lazy and I hate hand sewing and avoid it as much as possible.  For the moment I'm going to go back and finish my Salted sweater which I put aside for the duration of the OAL and enjoy not having a least until I sign up for another challenge!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

OAL 2016 Update

I've barely mentioned the Outfit Along recently and, I won't leave you in suspense, that is because I've been making very slow progress!  Because I'm starting to fear that I might not finish by the deadline I figured I may as well do an update now in case it's a while before I get to do an FO post.
Given that I completed 2 outfits last year I'm feeling a bit perplexed that I'm struggling to complete just one this year.  So what's the hold up?  Firstly is the yarn, I've gone for a 4 ply this time around so while I blasted out a Miette cardi in worsted weight yarn in just over a week last year, progress has been understandably slower this year.  The cable ribbing in particular took for-actual-ever to complete and there was a point where I thought I'd be knitting that bit for the rest of my life!  Once I got past that point the rest of the body went fairly quickly and I started to think that I was home free.  And then....(this is where the excuses start)... I got sick, it got hot, I got super busy and time just slipped away. Of course, in between everything else I also have to work in the evenings (coolest part of the day) so there's that too.
Ordinarily feeling ill would be a nice excuse to sit on the sofa and knit, but I've had this horrible cough and cold that has just taken it out of me, its been a really busy time too so I've just been exhausted.  Of course as soon as I started to feel better then it got really hot and sticky, not ideal knitting conditions for a sweaty betty like me.  Over the last few days I have managed to find some cooler moments in which to knit.  I was pretty happy when I knocked out a sleeve in an afternoon only to realise as I was reading the directions again for the second sleeve that I'd started the decreases too soon and I need to knit it again.  Ugh.  So at this point I have nearly completed the first sleeve for the second time and I'm praying for some cooler weather as the deadline approaches.
Hopefully soon I'll have a finished one a bit like this!
Just in case I seem like I'm complaining too much, I will say that the things I have been busy with have all been really nice and I've had a lovely few weeks.  Cassie has been on several visits to her new school and it's been lovely to see her become excited about starting in September.  I'm finding it hard to accept that she is old enough for school but she is so so ready and I know she is going to love it.  Lissy has been for a couple of visits to her new preschool and she is also really excited to start.  We were all a little worried because she can be very reserved in social situations but she just had the best time.

Cassie also had her preschool graduation which took place at their summer fete so there were loads of people there to watch.  The kids all did a little performance to 'We will Rock You' and Cassie KILLED it.  She was playing air guitar and headbanging for all she was worth, it was epic.  And now I have her home all day, every day until September, I'm undecided on whether this is a good thing or not!

So that's it for my little update, I hope everyone is enjoying the summer and getting at least a little knitting done.  With any luck I'll be back on Sunday with a finished cardi to show off, but perhaps not.  Wish me luck!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Tilly & the Buttons Megan

It has been hot hot hot here the last few days and I haven't been able to do much except wilt on the sofa and occasionally curse because I have to work and that means going outside!  Before the heatwave hit though I finished this Megan dress from Tilly Walnes Love at First Stitch book.
I'm going to be upfront and say that I'm very much in two minds about how much I like this dress and I think that like my last Tilly make, Coco, it's going to take a few wears before I'm truly decided.  In principle this pattern was the one that sold me on the book.  It's meant for beginners and I really don't need a pattern for a headscarf or a gathered skirt but I really liked the look of Megan.  The high waist seemed like a really good idea, particularly as I bought the book a few months after having Felicity and had a few lumps and bumps to skim over.  In reality, however, the skirt continues to be slim around the waist before curving out before the hips so not necessarily the greatest tummy hider after all.  Less of a high waist and more of a high waist seam.  To be fair I did make a size smaller than my measurements suggested so it may be that if I had used the suggested amount of ease it would look different.  I'm fine with it as it is though, Felicity is 2 1/2 now so I'm not feeling the need to hide as much as I did back then!
My real issue with the dress though is the sleeves.  Are they too sticky uppy?  They feel a little costumey to me but maybe it's because I don't have anything else really like it in my wardrobe.  Perhaps in a slightly lighter fabric the effect would be less pronounced. I think that the fact that I tried this on for the first time and looked in the mirror with the sun shining behind me so I looked like a silhouette rather than a person just exaggerated the evil queen shoulder effect!  In reality I think they're ok except when I lift my arms and then they do look a bit weird.

Construction on this one was fairly straightforward as you would expect form a learn to sew book.  The layout of the book is a little annoying to me as someone who already sews because the directions are broken up with boxes and panels offering in depth explanations of techniques.  Obviously this is super helpful to the target audience but led to me having to flip around to identify the actual order of construction style directions.  Of course this is not really a criticism just something which was a bit of a pain for me.
The fabric again is 100% cotton with a slightly ridiculous letter and stamps print on it.  I keep changing my mind about how much I love this fabric which may be part of the reason I'm still undecided on the dress as a whole.  Cassie loves it though and I have plenty left, so expect to see a little letters dress for her before too long.
However, for all my complaining there is plenty to love about this dress.  The shape is really nice, it is very comfortable both for work and home.  It offers pretty good coverage if you, just as an example, got really sunburnt in your Belladone dress and need to hide a bright red diamond on your back!  Because the skirt is slim this uses a modest amount of fabric and has left me plenty out of 2m to make a child's dress.  I'll definitely be giving this one another go in a slightly lighter cotton at some point, just to really see how I feel about those sleeves!