What can I say people, this has been a long time coming! Ever since Rachel introduced me to Named patterns back in August I was smitten and an idea to co-host our first ever sewalong was hatched! Getting on like a house on fire and our mutual appreciation of each other's styles made it seem like a no-brainer. We settled on the gorgeous Dakota Shawl Collar Dress, but our idea was somewhat hampered by my house move and Rachel's travels. We were determined to make this happen though and we're so excited to finally be announcing it!

We know that despite loving Named's extensive pattern collection some of you have been a little worried about the rather sparse and picture-less instructions. Having already made the Laurie Striped Tee I can tell you it's not so hard really, so Rachel, myself and some wonderful guest bloggers (including Saara and Laura from Named, Vicki from Minerva Crafts, Lauren from Lladybird and Alana from Lazy Stitching) will demystify the process for you by sewing up the Dakota Dress together! We've got a pretty comprehensive schedule lined up, so we hope you can join us. Even if you're an experienced stitcher you're welcome along for the ride...it's going to be fun!

If you're thinking of joining us, there's a number of ways to share your progress and support each other, other than mine and Rachel's blogs:

We'll be using #dakotasewalong on Twitter to answer any questions and for general sewalong-related banter - @HouseOFPinheiro@StitchOdyssey.

We've set up a Flickr Group that you can share your pictures on and help each other with any fitting woes or difficulties. Obviously Rachel and I will try our best to keep on top of any questions, but at times when we're not available this will be a good alternative.

We'll also be sharing inspiration, progress and the sewalong posts on Pinterest

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a button and let us know if you're in!

Surprise, surprise fellow stitchers...there's STILL been very little stitching on my part. There has been a lot of box unpacking, furniture re-arranging, cleaning, painting, varnishing, etc going on - which I'll be sharing in good time of course. However, I do have an exciting stitching announcement to make this Monday, so do tune in for that...

Today, I'm mainly hoping to pick your brains! Back in August, when I visited the parents in Portugal, my dad generously gifted me his DSLR camera. It's a Nikon D3100 and I haven't a clue what I'm doing with it! I basically just need to find some time to read the manual (not my strong point) and experiment - but as with anything new, I tend to procrastinate in learning how to do/use it.

I did 'practice' my 'point and shoot' skills for my Anna dress and Laurie Striped Tee and I'm pretty happy with the results, considering I didn't experiment with any of the fancy settings. What I couldn't figure out was how to get it to focus on timer, so all shots of me are still being taken with my old non-DSLR camera at the moment. Which, in fairness, has served me well so I'm not knocking it!

I must say that I love the Nikon's ability to capture light and depth of field...oh, and the grimy spots on my mirror! Anyway, it's clear that I need an intensive date with my manual asap, but I was wondering if you have any handy DSLR tips or know of any good books or tutorials. Your advice, as always, is much appreciated!

Morning folks! I hope it's not too early in the day (or too late for some of you) to talk about shapewear! I don't know about you, but I've never given shapewear much thought before and I've certainly never owned anything 'structural' before. But when the good people at Marks and Spencer got in touch about picking something out from their extensive shapewear range to create a vintage silhouette, I jumped at the opportunity. Although there's a lot of pretty numbers to choose from the lingerie section, I decided to go for industrial strength support to see what all the fuss is about. I picked the Firm Tummy Control Waist Sculpt Wear Your Own Bra Slip because I'm really fussy about my bras! Lucky for you, I decided against sharing a photo of myself 'modelling' the slip...you're welcome!

The main reason I was excited to try this out is because I'm a bit of a sucker for a 1940s silhouette, but the typical panelled skirts and slinky fabrics don't 100% flatter my figure - exemplified by both my McCall 4193 and By Hand London Anna dresses.  

You may well remember me bemoaning that my Anna is a tubby-tummy-hugger, but the shapewear made quite a dramatic difference to the silhouette. I wasn't expecting it to smooth over the 'lumps and bumps' as well as it did, working wonders on my tummy and muffin tops. I always thought I had a relatively slim waist, but again, the slip made a real difference in that department too. Another pleasantly unexpected outcome was perkier boobs - the slip is really tight fitting and literally pushes everything up...although I can safely say that I did not end up with rolls of fat spilling out under my armpits! 

The results are more subtle for my McCall 4193 dress, because it has a more blousy bodice and isn't as clingy as my Anna. However, I think you'll agree that once again, the slip creates a more streamlined silhouette. I wish now that I had actually used a measuring tape to calculate the difference, but I think the photos speak for themselves really.

There's no question that the shapewear works, but will I wear this slip on a regular basis? Probably not! Although I love the results, I felt way too constricted and have serious doubts as to whether I could last a whole day wearing it...having to negotiate things like sitting, eating and toilet breaks. It's excellent knowing that I can turn to my slip for a special occasion though, so thanks for the generosity M&S!

The toughest thing about this 'photoshoot'? Remembering not to suck everything in during the 'before' pictures!. Seriously! It went against my every instinct to just let it 'all hang out'!

Anyway, what's your take on shapewear? Got any favourite brands, products or tips to share?

**Post-publication edit**

In my excitement to show off my streamlined silhouette, it appears that I neglected to share some important information about the slip itself! So to answer your questions:
  • I'm on the fuller side of a UK size 12 and I'm wearing a UK size 12 slip. If I was ordering again, I would actually go up a size because it's REALLY tight. I know that's the whole point of it, but it was comical to contort myself in and out of.
  • The slip has no closures as it's made of stretchy spandex. Stepping into it wasn't an option for me due to my gigantic hips, so I had to put it on over my head. It may have been a different story had I ordered a size up though.
  • This isn't a slinky slip at all, it feels much more like a wetsuit if anything, so it definitely doesn't slide around or ride up. Once it's on, it's definitely on!
  • You can still move around, sit down, reach up and the like, but the slip's not exactly a second skin. It's tight and you know it's there, so for me, definitely not everyday wear!
Thank you all SO much for your kind words and well wishes on our new house! It turns out that original features and a spot of DIY turns you guys on as much as it does me, so I'll make sure to share some updates. Our living room is looking rather lovely, but I'll hold off sharing pictures until our new furniture arrives.

We moved in on Tuesday and we've already unpacked and set up the kitchen , our bedroom, the bathroom and the living room. Next stop...the sewing room! It would have been first on my list if I had my own way of course...

On a slightly sadder note, we went to clean our old flat today and say a final goodbye. I'm not going lie, it was very bittersweet - we've enjoyed such an awesome 5.5 years there, in such a central and 'cool' location. I've also had an absolute blast arsing around on our balcony, taking pictures for this blog. The natural sunlight and privacy are a winning combination. And, it even has railings and terracotta wall tiles that are ideal for displaying and hanging makes from.
I'm going to miss that balcony and all it has to offer. But, I guess half the fun in the new house will be experimenting with new locations. I just hope I discover somewhere as good...or even better maybe!?!

Finally, I'll leave you with a picture of my new do...which I'm delighted with by the way! A work colleague recommended Love Me Do hair boutique - it's beautifully retro with friendly and extremely capable staff. I can safely say that for the first time in my 5.5 years in Leicester, I've found a hair salon that I'll happily return to again and again. Give it a whirl if you're from/in the area!  

Hopefully, I'll have some stitching-related posts to share soon...before I lose your interest entirely!

Sadly friends, you won't be seeing any finished sewing posts from me for a while. I've alluded to buying a house before and having finally got the keys two and a half weeks ago, I've had to trade in my sewing tools for the rather barbaric-looking ones above...and then some! Although we don't move in until Tuesday, we've been putting in some crazy hours to decorate - either 12 hour days on weekends, or during weekdays, a couple of hours before work and even more after.

It's been an exhausting, and at times, frustrating journey, but ultimately very rewarding now that we can see it all coming together nicely. What pains me most though, is having absolutely no time to sew...or to even plan out projects. Before we embarked on this adventure, I insisted on leaving my sewing room unpacked for as long as possible, convinced I'd be able to sneak in the odd cheeky hour now and then. I was so wrong! But, at least it's all temporary until we've moved and my new sewing room is set up.

Now, I don't have the skills, experience or inclination to turn this into a DIY blog. However, I thought some of you might be interested to see what's been keeping me away from sewing. Plus, I've promised to document parts of our process here for friends and family...apologies in advance if you couldn't give a monkey's!
Hilariously, all this time and effort we've put in has been for just one room...the living room. We figured if we transform this into a stylish sanctuary, we won't mind tackling the rest of the house much more slowly. As with any older house (ours is Victorian, built approximately in 1905), things are never simple. Altogether we replaced the radiator, demolished ugly built-in cupboards, exposed uglier gas and electric metres, built slimmer-line cupboards for the metres, stripped layers of painted-over wallpaper, re-plastered parts of the walls, sanded the walls, sealed the walls, painted the skirting boards white, refreshed the cornices, sanded the wooden floor and filled/sealed endless nooks and crannies.

I hope you agree that the stripped back room is already looking fresher and lighter. We've since painted the walls and have the floor varnish left to apply, so I'll make sure to share some 'after' photos too.

All this is not to say that our house is in need of total renovation. In fact, it's in lovely condition and well-decorated, but I guess we want to put our own stamp on it and freshen in up a little. And there are so many beautiful original features that we fell in love with in the first place.

Anyway, sorry to bore you all with this! I just wanted to explain the absence of finished sewing projects on my part. I'm still reading/commenting on blogs as much as possible and you're all making me itch to get back in the sewing seat!

Have you ever been forced to take a sewing break? How did you get your sewjo back?