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  1. 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! 

  2. 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!

  3. 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? 

  4. eternal magpie & Rainbright Photography

    For our dress giveaway, Sarah of Rainbright Photography and I asked folks to leave a comment describing what their child would be most likely to keep in the pockets of this dress. The results were many and varied, ranging from kisses (so sweet!) to little toys. Certain themes did crop up quite frequently though, so I've compiled a Top Five list of Things To Keep In Your Pockets: 

    eternal magpie: what would you keep in your pockets?

    Stones, pebbles and rocks were the most popular answer, by a very long way! Maybe the current painted rock craze has something to do with that... or perhaps everybody loves a nice smooth pebble? 

    Daisies and other flowers were second on the list - perhaps inspired by Sarah's beautiful photos of Sienna, who definitely enjoyed picking lots of different flowers and popping them in her pockets! 

    After that, there were clear groupings of other items. Natural treasures such as leaves, feathers, sticks, acorns and fir cones were very popular. Then came a selection of actual creatures, from slugs, snails, worms and baby birds to a pet mouse! There was some concern as to whether a pet mouse might nibble a hole... but can't you just imagine a sweet little mouse curled up in a cosy pocket nest? 

    In fifth place, with an equal number of comments, came fairies and snacks - clearly both very important items to keep about your person!

    Given that the majority of the pocket treasures on the list are things found in nature... I had an idea to maybe write a monthly(ish) blog post (or start a mailing list) about what you might find out and about each month that you could bring home in your pockets. What do you think? Is that the sort of thing you might be interested in reading, either on the blog or in an email? Let me know!

  5. Liberty print summer pointy witch hat

    You know that train of thought where you’re looking at your felted witch’s hat and thinking that it’s a bit hot to wear for the summer solstice and then you start to wonder what a summer witch’s hat would look like and suddenly you’re drawing up a new sewing pattern...? 

    So, here's the thing. I seem to have made a Liberty tana lawn witch's hat. 

    It needs some minor alterations to the brim (it's asymmetrical, and a bit floppy on the other side), but I rather fancy making a few more of these!