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  1. eternal magpie outfit post: summer sun

    This is a fashion statement which I’m going to be calling “middle-aged overheated goth recovers from uncharacteristically busy day with a nice cup of tea”. 
    Reckon it’ll catch on? 

    I know it seems ridiculous to be wearing black in the middle of a heatwave, but I did have a good reason, I promise. I was going to a creative session run by the local art group, Jelly, and I didn't know how much mess I was going to make. From that point of view, a white or pale summer outfit seemed like a rather bad idea!

    It sounds very dramatic and a bit over the top to say that outfits like this have saved me this summer, but I think it's true. My fibromyalgia doesn't cope very well at all with the heat, and having any kind of restrictive clothing touching me can cause quite a lot of pain. These dresses, and the bloomers, are so light and flowing that they're really, really comfortable. 

    (PS - if you're a UK size 6-8, I have a dress in this fabric in stock for you.)

    eternal magpie: white bloomers

    I did have the bloomers for sale on the website, but then the manufacturers discontinued my favourite elastic, and I couldn't find a way to make the size chart not-confusing, so I temporarily took them down again. That was about a year ago. Oops.

    As far as the elastic goes, I'm now making these with one inch wide elastic inside a folded waistband, as in the photo above. I have seen a similar elastic to the frilled-edge one that I used to use, but it's four times as expensive and not as soft, so I'm not totally convinced it's going to be a good replacement. I need to make a pair for myself using the new elastic, and see how they feel. 

    I don't think I've managed to un-confuse the size chart either... and a quick question about it on social media the other day resulted in requests for lots more information, including actual garment measurements, so that's something that I need to work on. 

    For now though, the bloomers are available to order... but if you really have no idea which size to go for, just let me know your actual waist and hip measurements in the notes when you check out, and I'll run up a nice loose pair that should fit you nicely! 

  2. IT HAS POCKETS pink enamel pin by Pink Coat Club

    Speaking of pockets, (what? of course we were!)... look what I've got for you! 

    I bought this pin last week, from Pink Coat Club on Etsy, and was very excited about it - I do love a good enamel pin badge.
    (I'll show you my tweed jacket sometime - it's absolutely covered with them.) 

    IT HAS POCKETS enamel pins by Pink Coat Club

    Photo © Pink Coat Club

    The lovely Joy got in touch and asked me whether I'd like to make them available on my own website for you... so I said yes! 

    They come in three colours; pink, blue, and yellow. I've ordered a few, just to get us started, and they're available in the shop now!

  3. Dress by eternal magpie, image copyright Rainbright Photography

    Did you know that every dress goes out to you with a little something already in the pocket? 

    It's a handy-sized book for writing down or drawing pictures of anything you might want to put in your pockets whilst out on an adventure! 

    Sienna has very carefully written "there was lots of fairies".

    I had no idea until Sarah (Rainbright Photography) and I ran our giveaway that fairies were such a popular thing to keep in your pockets! 

    If you haven't got a dress yet, but you'd like to make a little book to keep in your pocket, you can find my short video tutorial over on YouTube

    You can also find the instructions in Miss Mouse's Summer Magazine, which is available as a printed booklet, or as a digital download from Miss Mouse's Etsy shop

    (If you don't yet know who Miss Mouse is... you can find out here!) 

    If you'd like to, I'd love it if you wanted to share the contents of your pockets, or your little books! You can do that on social media using the hashtag #magpieinmypocket. Thank you! 

  4. eternal magpie customer feedback

    Yesterday I received this lovely message from Rebecca. 

    The first one of these dresses that I made for myself was because I was having surgery and needed something comfy to wear afterwards, so it's good to know that they work for other people too! 

    outfit: celestial dress and bloomers

    My own stars and moon dress is also getting a lot of wear this summer - it's a lovely lightweight cotton which is really comfortable to wear, and it washes and dries nice and quickly. 

    I have two in stock, one in a size 20-22, and one in size 26. I also have enough fabric left to make a couple more, which you can order in children's sizes, or in adult sizes.  

    So, here's to wishing Rebecca the best of luck in recovering from her surgery... and meanwhile we're happily discussing some gorgeous vintage curtains that are going to be turned into a dress one day - when they're not adorning Rebecca's windows!

  5. eternal magpie: smock cutting layout without fabric waste

    I've been wearing my ancient cheesecloth blouse since the heatwave started. As I pulled it from the washing line yesterday I realised that it's made entirely from rectangles, which means that no fabric waste was left over from its production. This has been bothering me lately. I've been making lavender bags and summer hats from my fabric scraps, and I donated a bag of bits to a friend who's organising a charity quilt project, but I still have more leftovers than I'd like. So... why not try and design the leftovers out?

    This rang a bell with a cutting diagram that I'd seen in one of my textile history books... and here it is! How to cut a top or dress, using the maximum width of the fabric, without wasting a single piece. 

    eternal magpie: smock worn by Thomas Pitkin in around 1894

    The garment in question is one of these - a nineteenth century smock - but the construction is identical to the summer blouse I'm wearing today. 

    The first volunteering I did for the Museum of English Rural Life, about nine years ago, was documenting their collection of smocks, so I've been lucky enough to get my hands on about sixty examples of the real thing. Another volunteer and I took detailed measurements, studied whether they'd been stitched by hand or machine, and described the patterns of smocking and embroidery stitches on each garment. One particularly interesting thing we noticed was that the vast majority of the adult smocks were made from the same width of fabric, regardless of the size of the wearer. The side seams were almost always made from the selvedges, so we could see straight away that the entire width of fabric had been used. 

    I'm starting to feel an experiment coming on... not to replicate a 19th century smock, because I know how much time that would take! And probably not a 1970s or 80s smock like the ones in my pattern books. But maybe a pintucked blouse or a coat dress, made entirely from rectangles, with no scraps left over. I like that idea very much. 

    eternal magpie: liberty smocked aesthetic dress

    Mind you, there is one thing I'd like to replicate at some point... and that's a smocked aesthetic dress. Obviously this one has a much more complex construction, including a very heavily structured inner layer. Not quite the no-waste experiment I'm looking at right now, but isn't it gorgeous?