Happy Monday

Happy Monday night! I have decided to start writing a weekly post on Sunday nights (today is a bank holiday so it’s basically Sunday) to try and combat the Sunday blues I battle with every week. My plan is to share a few things I’ve been doing or enjoying over the last week and update the side bar with my current favourite podcast, sewing project and book.

As this is the first one, I’m going to include things that I’ve been doing/enjoying in recent weeks too.

  • My usual pre-work blues have not descended today because I have spent the afternoon eating upsetting quantities of food with my beloved Laura. I made her watch Nanette and then we just talked and watched YouTube clips of musicals and Julie Andrews. Also… I only have 2 days of work between now  and 10th September….
  • I have literally just finished the last episode of Sharp Objects and I can’t really cope with how brilliant it was. I finished it less than 15 minutes ago so I cannot be articulate about it.
  • I love Angela Carter but I’ve given her a bit of wide berth since university when I wrote my dissertation on her. Then I watched Angela Carter: Of Wolves and Women on iplayer and reminded myself how much I love her writing. I’d recommend watching it if you don’t know much about her because it gives a nice overview of her life and the themes in her books – complete interviews with Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and Jeanette Winterson. It’s prompted me to finally open the Angela Carter biography I received for Christmas!
  • My Favorite Murder was my gateway into the world of the True Crime podcast and I still love it very much, but I think my all-time favourite may be All Killa No Filla. Kiri Pritchard McLean and Rachel Fairburn are both professional comedians and they discuss their mutual fascination with serial killers between going off on hilarious, often filthy tangents. I just love them. I’ve listened to the podcast off and on but I’ve been listening constantly over the last few days while I’ve been doing housework and sewing and I am obsessed.
  • I’m going to a wedding on Thursday so naturally I am still working on my outfit… I’ve decided to make a By Hand London Kim Dress in a navy with an oversized polka dot. I’ve found it really enjoyable to sew. How well it turns out remains to be seen! I feel like I’ve got a bit over confident of late so I’m convinced this will be a dogs dinner and I’ll end up wearing something I already own or panic buying something on Wednesday.
  • This piece about Ed Sheeran made me laugh so hard. I think Ed Sheeran may be the most boring musician of all time and I really don’t understand his popularity.

And that’s been my week really! I hope you all had an interesting week and have some things to look forward to in the week to come.

What have been your highlights this week?

Sewing Entertainment – Three TV shows

In a different life, I would be a world-renowned professor of TV and give lectures on the influence of The Way We Were on the Gilmore Girls. However, in this life, all I have is this humble blog with which to share my exciting TV insights and opinions. So here are three of my current favourite TV shows:

Unforgotten

unforgottenThis may be the best TV show I have watched in the last year. It is a cold case crime drama and focuses on people more than the police investigation. All the suspects have a deep dark secret that they have been hiding for years, but the secret is not necessarily directly connected to the murder. I love any drama that’s about deep dark secrets. The idea that someone knows something is what makes famous cold cases so compelling and yet so frustrating. We know that there are people living today who know the truth, we just don’t know who they are. Unforgotten is about people who have done their best to hide their secrets only to have them come out as part of a murder case.

The detectives are played by Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar, and I really appreciate how compassionate and human they are. There are no traditional macho police characters in sight. And this is not the kind of show that’s about dead women with gratuitous shots of naked female corpses, so far only 1 season out of 3 has been about the murder of a young woman.

There are too many good things about Unforgotten to list so just get on and watch it!

Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Netflix and ITV hub, and Season 3 is currently going out on ITV on Sunday nights (and you can catch up on ITV hub!)

Dietland

Dietland is an angry show for a terrifying time. It’s part story of self-discovery and enlightenment, and part feminist revenge fantasy. Dietland.jpg

Plum Kettle is a fat woman planning stomach bypass surgery so that she can be thin, and her real life can begin. She lives a small life, working from home and only leaving her apartment to attend weight loss meetings or visit a local café. Then one day she meets a young woman named Leta and everything changes.

Oh and there’s a feminist terrorist group killing rapists and dropping them from the sky…

Just watch it! Dietland is not perfect, but it’s just what I need when I am despairing of the world. Joy Nash is spectacular as Plum. Watch it and then follow Joy on Instagram so that you can gaze upon her beauty.

Dietland is available on Amazon Prime.

Keeping Faith

This is a bit of a wildcard because I’ve not watched a lot of this yet and I’m not sure what I think.

Keeping FaithFaith is a solicitor on maternity leave, seemingly happily married with three children and living in Wales. One day her husband disappears on his way to work, and she starts to try and work out what has happened.

Keeping Faith was originally on BBC Wales, but it was a bit of a word-of-mouth sensation, and people all over the UK watched it on iplayer. Now they are airing it on BBC One for people like me who missed out on it the first time around.

This is being shown on Thursdays on BBC One and the rest is available on BBC iplayer

Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

Evening Primrose

Evening Primrose was recommended by lots of internet people I trust, and so when it came to compiling a Christmas list, I had to put it down. I didn’t actually know what it was about, but from the cover and the title, I got the impression that it was going to be the kind of book that is half poetry, half novel, with long lush descriptions of South Africa and beautiful, poignant bittersweet moments. It isn’t really anything like that.

Evening Primrose is actually a really angry political novel. It’s written as the diary of Masechaba, a young woman who has left her religious mother to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. However, the realities of being a doctor and working within the South African health system are not what she expected. As well as dealing with the pressures of being a doctor, Masechaba is also dealing with her own personal history, her brother’s recent suicide and the legacy of apartheid. She lives with a Zimbabwean doctor named Nyamba who opens her eyes to the xenophobia that exists in South African society, even in Masechaba’s own mother.

I was really impressed by how such a short book managed to explore gender, the legacy of apartheid, mental health, menstruation and more. The author Kopano Matlwa is a doctor herself and is currently studying for a DPhil and Oxford University, which makes the fact that Evening Primrose is actually her third novel all the more impressive.

I don’t want to give away everything that happens in the book because I found that not knowing what to expect made the book so much more shocking and moving. I finished the booked with tears rolling down my cheeks.

Jane Austen the Secret Radical by Helena Kelly

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I bloody loved this book. I bought it while I was on a book crawl with Laura and her book blogger pals. As soon as Laura pointed out to me, I knew it was the book for me. Reading this was a very intense experience! It’s the reason I decided to do my Autumn of Austen blog series and has made me feel justified in my decision to base everything in my life on my love for Pride and Prejudice.

The premise of the book is that most modern readers have Austen all wrong. Many of us have fallen for the image of Austen as a quiet, spinster aunt who wrote witty but unthreatening novels about young women who in love with wealthy men. Kelly argues that we have no reliable source for that idea of Jane Austen and that if we go to her novels, we see a very different woman. Kelly devotes a chapter to each of Austen’s finished novels, picking up on the references that would have been familiar to Austen’s first readers and filling in the social and political context that we are missing 200 years after Austen’s death.

Through her close analysis of Austen’s novels, Kelly paints the picture of a Jane Austen who was extremely politically engaged, concerned with the treatment of women, the hypocrisy of the church, the effect of enclosures on ordinary people and many other issues. Our lack of familiarity with things like the eighteenth and early nineteenth century Church, inheritance law, and the literature of the time, means that we miss many of her subtle references. Modern readers, for example, are unlikely to have read the Mysteries of Udolpho and therefore just don’t fully get how misguided Catherine Morland is in Northanger Abbey. Most of us are unaware that many of the characters in Mansfield Park share names with prominent slave owners, and we aren’t living through the Napoleonic wars with companies of militia taking over our towns. I will say that Kelly goes into some very in-depth literary criticism, which I love, but may not be to everyone’s taste. However, if like me, you are an ex-literature student, this will make you squeal with joy. It’s the best part of doing an English degree without even having to write an essay.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to all Austen fans. I will warn you that it may make you feel differently about certain characters and books (I’m looking at you, Edward Ferrars), but that might be worth it if you want to love Austen even more.

2017 Make Nine

2017 Make Nine

At the start of 2017, I posted an ambitious #2017makenine on Instagram. I made one thing from it but then just kind of abandoned it. But I have been planning my autumn wardrobe, and I’ve decided to update the original nine makes to drop a few things that aren’t a priority for me and replace them with the things I want to wear this autumn.

Here is my new autumn/winter focussed Make Nine:

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The new additions:

Make 1: Nettie Bodysuit by Closet Case Patterns

I have fallen in love with jersey this year. I just love how easy it is to fit jersey compared with woven patterns. I love the neckline options on the Nettie bodysuit, and the option to make a dress or bodysuit. I am hoping that this will turn about to be a nice simple make that could become a wardrobe staple. I have started a toile of this in some cheap black jersey, and it seems lovely to sew up so far.

Make 2: Solange Dress from La Maison Victor

I always feel like the purest version of myself when dressed in a short jersey dress, tights, and Tatty Devine necklace. I hate that it’s too hot in summer to dress like this! I had to have a really simple jersey shift on this list. As long as it is successful, it will easily end up being the most worn thing in my wardrobe. I want to make this in a red and white stripe to recreate a dress I love that is just too tight and makes me look like a condom full of cotton wool.

Make 3: Elmira from Seamwork Patterns

I don’t usually go for wrap anything. I know that they are probably perfect for my body type (vaguely hourglass but with massive boobs), but I usually feel quite middle-aged and matronly whenever I wear something wrap-style. When I saw the Elmira cardigan, I thought it would make the perfect first foray into wrap stuff.

Make 4: Moneta Dress by Colette patterns

I hadn’t considered the Moneta dress until earlier this year when it was time for the Moneta Party organised by Elle from Sew Positivity and Rachel from Rach Against the Sewing Machine. As soon as I saw how good it looked on people of all shapes and sizes, I knew I had to give it a go. So I bought the PDF pattern and got to printing and cutting and began sewing. But then I abandoned it when something went wrong with the neckline. I am resolved to finish this off now because I think it will be another great addition to my handmade Autumn/Winter wardrobe.

These are my plans, but who knows what will happen! I also want to make a couple more Agnes tops and another Cleo dress, but I’m not sure I’ll have the time!

Let me know what you are planning to sew for Autumn/Winter in the comments below.

An Autumn of Austen

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Welcome to my new blog! I have decided to start off with a series dedicated to my first love, the greatest novelist of all time – Jane Austen.

I have loved Jane Austen since I was six-years-old and the 1995 Pride and Prejudice aired on the BBC. I still remember how it felt to watch it for the first time – I remember how it felt to hate Mr Darcy and think that Wickham seemed to be quite fun! I still feel the same little fizz of excitement when I hear the theme music. And ever since I was six years old, I have hoped to wake up and find that I’ve miraculously become Elizabeth Bennet overnight.

Twenty-two years on, I am still as devoted a fan as ever, I have seen countless adaptations and studied her books up to degree level, but I have not tired of Jane Austen. As this year marks the 200th Anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, I have decided that there is no better tribute than to spend Autumn re-reading all of her novels, re-watching adaptations of her work and enjoying Jane Austen in as many forms as possible. I always love to spend autumn re-reading beloved books, watching costume dramas and eating casseroles so why not make it into a project! I’m not going to write any posts on the novels themselves, I don’t think anyone needs to read a review of Pride and Prejudice (my review would just be OMFG! I LOVE IT SO MUCH), but I will share reviews of Austen inspired/related things.