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Menopause – A New Beginning!

Late last year, I attended a yoga workshop focusing on the menopause, run by Barefoot Yoga. I am afraid that I have reached “that age!”. I have been reading up on the perimenopause and menopause over the past year or so and have tried to take note of ideas and have adapted my diet and lifestyle accordingly. Hopefully those of you who read this article may pick up some useful advice and tips.

Exercise

I started learning yoga a few years ago to help with anxiety and panic attacks – I also tried meditating at the same time – with mixed results! I am hopeless at class mediations and find my mind wandering with what’s for dinner that night etc! However I have found the Calm app works for me. What with working from home and looking after a family, moody teenager, a senior cat and 3 rescue chickens, I just didn’t seem to find the time to meditate successfully. The calm app provides a daily calm meditation lasting 10 mins, which is ideal for those of us with limited time in the day. I still struggle with meditation after wind down yoga classes to be honest With yoga, I used to go for the fast energetic class, but now approaching 50, I’ve gone back to Hatha and I like the gentle flow classes and and yin relaxing style. I like the flexibility my body gets from yoga. I know it is doing me good and for that 1 hour, I can clear my headspace and not think about work, family and home etc.

I also love going walking. I don’t live in the country but there is an abundance of parks in Birmingham and it is just nice to get out and about in nature and fresh air. Sometimes, when time is limited, I just walk around the roads where I live and use my Calm meditation walking app. Mindfulness walking really helps to clear my head and relax. You can choose how little or how long you wish to walk for or whether you would like a guided meditation or not. It’svery flexibile.

Also, again after researching and talking to friends, I have started with resistance classes. All of the menopause books will tell you that weight resistance training is great for your body during the menopause years. Strength training exercises help to build bone and muscle strength, burn body fat and increase your metabolism. It is basically all about the oestrogen! During perimenopause and menopause, a woman’s oestrogen levels decline and weight training can help to maintain a good muscular system plus get rid of the excess weight that has seemed to form around my middle! Most gyms will offer personal trainer advice and classes. To be honest, there’s a wealth of online stuff out there. The one I particularly like is the “Live Yourself Youhg” channel on Youtube.

Diet

Until I met my husband 15 years ago, I was a vegetarian who ate fish (the term pescatarian didn’t exist back then! I started eating meat again, but for the past couple of years, I’ve completely gone off it and now have come full circle and am a pescatarian. I did used to eat chicken until last summer, then we became the owner of 3 glorious rescue chickens and I haven’t been able to touch chicken since!

Reading about diets favourable to the menopause is very interesting. It seems to be a mediterranean diet is recommended – good for me with all that fish! There is alot of emphasis on breakfast too and the importance of eating a healthy balanced meal to regulate your blood sugar. Protein is the key – its a good job we have chickens who lay 3 eggs a day! I eat an egg most days, sometimes a simple omelette for lunch or with an avocado on toasted bread for extra protein and good fats. I love reading about nutrition and diet. I wish i could have been a nutritionalist – however i need a science degree to become an approved nutritionalist. So i just have to satisfy myself by writing about it! More diet and healthy eating tips on my next blog!

I try to eat lots of fibre anyway as I have always had trouble with constipation. It has been wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta and rice for years in our house. I’ve also been trying to eat more pulses too, as they are so good for you. Home made hummus here we come! Basically, its about keeping blood sugar levels constant, so unfortunaetly very little biscuits, cake and refined carbs. Try as I may, i do need a biscuit occasionally and I console myself with 80% dark chocolate is not that bad for you. I do love cake however, but as I have a nut allergy, I generally make my own and have started using wholemeal flour as a substitute for white. Courgette cake is my speciality! Don’t knock it until you try it!

I have also started to eat more yoghurt, especially plain greek yoghurt. I was eating plain yoghurt with summer berries after dinner with a sprinkling of flaxseed for added fibre, however apparently greek yoghurt provides more protein.

Homemade soup is a great lunch meal as it uses to any left over veg plus I add lots of lentils to my soup for extra protein. I have also started buying the Merchant Gourmet resealable packs – great to add to a pasta sauce. Their cookbook is really good and there’s some simple and more importantly quick recipes in there.

Caffeine and alcohol are both no-no’s. I don’t drink coffee, apart from the odd decaff now and again. However I do like green tea, which i didn’t realise contains as much caffeine as black tea. However it is supposed to be a good anti-oxidant, so I still have at least one cup a day. Talking of teas, I have switched to Yogi teas. Their women’s energy and the Inner harmony teas are lovely and I would definitely recommend them. There are lots of different varieties of herbal teas on the market, but I find the Yogi ones the best. You can buy Yogi teas from lots of health food shops and delis, however there are some that are hard to get hold of. Ethical Superstore usually has a wide range available online.

As for alcohol, cutting down may be a problem for some people, however since I had my son, my capacity for holding down a drink has vanished! One glass of wine occasssionally is all I can manage and I can’t see the point of cutting that small pleasure out.

Vitamins and Supplements

I have always taken multi vitamins and fish oil tablets as I used to be pescatarian and after a few years of eating meat, have now come back full circle and am once again a pescatarian. Plus I have a nut allergy so on the whole, I find taking multi vitamins will benefit me and my body. Since my anxiety I have also been taking magnesium supplements from Higher Nature

They come in an effervescent form. After swapping stories with other women on the yoga workshop, I have also started taking probiotic supplements. I did some research on the benefits of probiotics and I’ve gone with Higher Nature again and am taking their probiotic digestion supplements. Some of their products are in a few health food shops, however I buy mine online.

In conclusion, every woman is different and will experience different menopausal symptoms or maybe no symptoms at all! I just hope that someone reading this will take something from it and try some of my suggestions. There’s so much information out there about menopause, its sometimes difficult to know where to start. I hope that this blog helps!

Next time – healthy eating and nutrition for the menopause.

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RHS Malvern Spring festival

69a4c9fc-71f2-42fc-bc36-7ce9cfaf3465I’ve always wanted to visit the RHS Malvern Spring show and this year I actually remembered to book tickets and off we went a couple of weeks ago on a sunny Saturday!

I watched Gardeners World the Friday beforehand as I thought they would be filming there and I was not disappointed.  I loved the look of the show gardens and the floral marquee and couldn’t wait to visit the Three Counties Showground in Malvern the next day. I was crossing my fingers that the weather would improve too after a deluge of rain a few days before.

The big day arrived and the sun came out. We arrived mid morning, along with thousands of other people too!  First stop coffee and a 10 minute wait for the ladies’ loo’s!  (Generally speaking there are more women at shows like this so why not provide extra toilets?!).

cf338afb-9e7f-41bb-94b4-2a116f37bb59Second stop was the show gardens. Unfortunately due to the previous days rain, these were in a muddy field! From watching GW I was really looking forward to seeing the show gardens and they didn’t disappoint.  On the down side, it was so busy you had to queue In order to get a look in. It’s always disappointing at these things as there are so many people like me wanting to get a look. On TV they obviously film when no ones around. A false sense of reality!

c9f6a9f9-1c74-41d4-8593-19ad2ec5df39Anyway after I managed a quick peak, I really liked this garden. It was so bright and colourful. Lots of fun in the garden.  It really appealed to me as my garden is also full of bright, fun colours and eye catching planting.

The schools gardens were excellent too.  Lots of hard work went into them and I loved the bright happy colours and the planting.

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My absolute favourite garden was “the bra garden” though!  I saw Carol Klein talking about the bras and couldn’t find a record of it anywhere in the programme. My husband came up with the idea of re running the GW episode to find out what the garden was called  I was getting obsessed with finding this garden at one point.  We managed to locate the garden due to the placement of some giant tepees in the end! It was great fun and unbeknown to me it was made by a local school in Birmingham.

49ff6d4d-c3d0-4e43-93eb-7ef55ace8165All in all, a good day out was had by everyone. My husband and son enjoyed their burger and pizza respectively and I enjoyed looking around the gardens, actually in the sunshine!

Im thinking about a return visit to BBC Gardeners World Live next month, but I may be going on a solo trip, unless there is some street food there to tempt the family!


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Dr Who and film fabric!

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I saw this great fabric in my local fabric store, Cottonpatch in Birmingham. As an ardent Dr Who fan since a little girl, I just couldn’t resist! It’s bang on trend too for the new female Doctor on BBC although I believe there will be no more Daleks present in the new series

The fabric features the Doctor’s arch enemy, the Daleks!  I had a list of things in my head that I wanted to use this delightful fabric for and in the end I decided on a drawstring bag and a document wallet. It was such fun sewing with this fabric.  I loved it!

 

 

There seems to be a rise in popularity in film or tv fabrics. I recently purchased some fat quarters from Hobbycraft, themed with both Jungle Book and Toy Story. I have used the Jungle Book fabric to make some bunting, which sold a few days later. The Toy Story fabric is currently in the process of being made into bunting again!

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Mickey Mouse and friends have also featured in my Etsy shop  I’ve had great fun making purses, wallets and bunting from a great array of fabric.

 

 

 

Just last week, I saw a fabulous Tom and Jerry fabric too. It’s on my radar to buy although I have so many fabrics! It’s just hard to resist. Watch this space!

For all the latest makes and designs, click on my Etsy shop button!


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Flower pot madness!

We had planned a warm Easter school holiday trip to Estepona, south of Malaga, Spain. In reality we were rained in, cold and were grateful of the heated seats in the hire car!  It took us 3 days to finally visit the lovely town of Estepona in all it’s sunny glory. It was worth it.

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From what I had read, I pictured an idyllic Spanish local town, generally off the tourist trail where Spanish friends and family met on Saturday mornings in their favourite cafe over a Cortado. I wasn’t disappointed. We were the only foreigners there!  Lots of locals doing their Saturday morning shopping.  And the shoe shops were to die for!!! 3 pairs of lovely sandals made it back into my case!

Anyway, to bring me to the point of this blog. What I hadn’t realised was that Estepona is famous for its flower pot trail!  The guidebook said, go into the tourist office and ask for a trail map. We duly did and began to walk street after street of beautiful, colourful flower pots full of red geraniums which were attached to the street walls. Apparently each street has a themed flower pot colour too!  I have to say my favourites were the pink spotty ones and was quite disappointed that I couldn’t bring one back in my suitcase!

The trail went on for lovely street after street until my 9 year old had decided enough was enough and he wanted an ice cream! I took so many photos, that here is only a small selection.

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So if you are a fan of flowers, gardening and spotty plant pots, you will love it here!

Lovely Estepona, I can’t wait to go back.


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Mickey Mouse inspired

 

Last week I went to my local Hobbycraft for some supplies and saw a new fat quarter bundle of Mickey Mouse fabric. What fun!

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I decided to have a go at making a document wallet in the lovely Mickey Mouse fabric as well as some little wallets and purses. I will definitely need to go and replenish my stock of this lovely fabric. If only they had Minnie Mouse too!

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Anyway, this led me onto the idea of making a batch of wallets and credit card holders out of my fabric scraps. They will eventually make it onto my Etsy shop but are also useful little presents at craft fairs too! As you can see I’ve had a very busy week!

These little wallets are are easy to make  you just need a front fabric, a lining fabric and a layer of interfacing or fleece as a sandwich layer. You can choose how big or small you want to make your wallets, from small business card holders to A4 magazine storage holders.

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Its a fun quick way to use up a fabric stash and I like being creative with choosing the fabrics with matching or even contrasting linings. Plus there is the fun at the end with the snap fastener tool!  Give it a few weeks and I think I may well start on some more!  So go on, give it a go!

A selection of these wallets and card holders are available in my shop  just click on the link above and if you fancy a certain fabric or pattern, let me know and I can customise you a lovely wallet.

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Sewing needlecases

IMG_0744After the Christmas rush I started my sewing again when my son went back to school. Having had weeks of making Christmas decorations and Santa bags I felt like making something different!

I had a look through all my Cath Kidston books for inspiration however couldn’t really find anything I fancied making.  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed my ‘sew retro’ book by the author Judi Ketteler.

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I love this book for it’s retro projects and also it’s history of sewing, fabric and fashion through the ages. I’ve previously made a few things from it including an apron and a popular farmers market bag! This time I discovered the ‘charming needlecase’ page and was hooked.

Apparently needlecases were very popular back in the day as needles were so expensive that women wanted to protect them and a made a case specially for them.  From doing some research it turns out that the relics of bronze needlecases have been found from Viking sites!  I believe the fabric needlecases really stem from the Victorian era.

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Anyway, I decided on my material and gave it a go.  Actually it was lovely to sew something different and there are so many combinations of front and lining fabric that you can choose from to make your needlecases stand out.

I chose a retro valentines pink fabric with a plain pink lining and pink ribbon.  I loved it so much I have made quite a few more and it seems to be becoming rather an obsession!

I wonder if my needlecases will stand the test of time as plenty have from Victoriana!

Needless to say, all are available on my Etsy shop  just follow the link at the top of the page!


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An old fashioned Sunday afternoon!

IMG_1410I spent a delightful Sunday afternoon at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham where there was a screening of the film LaLaLaLand accompanied by a live orchestra.

I have already seen the film twice and own it on DVD and yes, I have the soundtrack!  I also previously wrote a blog article on the delightful clothes featured in the film so I suppose you could say I am just a tiny bit obsessed!

Anyway, back to the Sunday afternoon; myself and resigned hubbie arrived to find a hoard of people looking forward to their cinema afternoon.  I love clothes spotting and noticed that there were even a handful of the Emma Stone canary dress copies!  I myself wore a 1950’s pink and white gingham check dress and some slingback kitten heels so I felt the part at least!

IMG_1411An interval drink ordered and then time to proceed to our seats.  The venue was completely packed out with cinema fans alike.  The orchestra came on stage and started to warm up.  Then the main event started.  The widescreen CinemaScope peeled back and LaLaLand finally started.

I had no idea what to expect.  How were the orchestra going to fit in with the film etc?  I needn’t have been concerned as everything was perfect!  I remember seeing the film for the first time and knew during the opening sequence that I would love it.  Watching it again for the first time in months, just reminded me of that first feeling.  The prescence of the orchestra just heightened the whole spectacle.

I loved the old fashioned feel of the event from the overture (written on screen) to the intermission (likewise on screen) too!  I wondered how they were going to ensue a seemless interval in the film and I loved how they did. The first half of the film ended on a close up of Emma Stone’s face which then faded out in a circle, just like the old films that I love.  I couldn’t wait to return after the interval  and was not disappointed.

When the film finished, I lost count of the encores and everyone was standing up clapping.  It was a very special afternoon and a fantastic atmosphere.

Please can we have more afternoons like this?  I would love to watch some of the old films, the Gene Kelly and Fred Astaires with the addition of a live orchestra.  Judging by the popularity of this Sunday afternoon, I wouldn’t be the only one!

Many thanks to the Novello Orchestra who are currently on tour with their production  I hope to see them again in the future

http://www.thenovelloorchestra.com

@NovelloOrch @THSHBirmingham


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Peg bags

Although I consider myself to be a feminist and fully intend on continuing to bring my son up to believe that women can do anything that a man can do (if not better!), I find some strange personal satisfaction when I can hang out my washing on a lovely breezy summer’s day, watching it all blowing in the wind!

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I love my garden which is bright and cheerful.  Yes, i’ve made pretty bunting to cover fences and there are matching seat covers with parasol trims, so I thought why not pretty up my peg bag. I don’t think its just me either!  All the homestyle magazines keep re-iterating using the garden as another room, a mere extension to you indoor living space. Well, my indoor living space consists of pretty cushions, bunting, Cath Kidston tablecloths, amongst other items, so why not extend out to my garden?

I’m sure I’m not just the only one too! I’m just starting getting into the world of craft markets and have found that peg bags are one of my best sellers. I get people actively searching for the type of old fashioned fabric peg bags that perhaps reminds them of their childhood with favourite granny’s and other nostalgic memories.

My peg bags are a showcase for both pretty and floral stashes of fabric plus a bit more of an adventurous fabric in a retro style. I picked up a delightful one from my local fabric shop; Cottonpatch, which is part of a cat range and consists of cat food tins.  Purrfect!

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Peg bags are both useful and functional. If you enjoy your garden why have a boring bland green peg bag that everywhere sells, when you could have a handmade object in your choice of fabric to brighten up your washing line.

Peg bags can also be made out of old clothes – kids clothes, especially girls dresses work really well and can be adapted quite easily.  There’s an upcycling project for you!

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To start with you need to cut out a paper peg bag template.  My template measures 30cm across and 45cm vertically.  You can adjust your template to make it smaller or bigger – it’s entirely up to you!

Next, choose your chosen fabric and cut out one template.  This is going to be the back of the bag.  You could choose to have a different colour/pattern back to front or keep them the same.

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Secondly, you need to cut out the front of the peg bag.  This will come in 2 parts as you need to leave a gap for the pegs!  Following my template you need to cut out the top of the bag.  Mine measures 30cm across and 18cm down from the point of the top, so you are left with a sort of a triangle shape.  Next,, cut out the bottom of the front section, this roughly measures 24cm down and 30cm across.

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Next you need to bind the bottom edge of the front top and the front edge of the front bottom section.  You can choose matching binding or something contrasting for fun!  When you have bound the edges, Place the 2 parts right side together and pin. Measure 7cm from either side (I mark with a fabric pen) and sew from the edge to the 7cm mark.  Do this on both sides and you will be left with a nice gap big enough to put pegs through.

Next, with right sides together, sew around the whole of the peg bag, ensuring that you leave a small gap at the very top where the coat hanger is going to poke out of.  I find marking this gap with pins reminds me not to sew completely all the way round.

Turn the peg bag the right way round and finish off by adding a strip of binding or ribbon to the bottom of the peg bag.  Insert your hanger and hey presto, you have a unique peg bag!

You can find all these peg bags on my Etsy shop.  I also provide custom order service  so if you fancy a particular fabric or style and colour, then just get in touch with me.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Lizzyshomemade


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Hopeful for the sun!

I was thinking one day  with a cup of tea in my hand, of what other items I could make with my fabric remnants, apart from pincushions! (I always like making those!) and came up with the bright idea of making a few more sunglasses holders.  Last year I did actually make a Lovehearts sunglasses holder.  I ordered a beautiful 2 metres of this fabric and made myself a skirt with it and with what was left over, I also made my first sunglasses holder.  Not buying more of this fabric was a mistake as it went out of stock and I can’t find it anywhere else!

Anyway, back to making sunglasses holders!  I really enjoy making these as they are not too tricky to make and you can have a lovely finished result quite quickly.  They also look quirky and stand out a mile from the plastic boring solid colour ones!

Firstly you need some lovely fabric for the outside, a lining fabric and also a fairly thick wadding which will sandwich the 2 fabrics together and also give the case more stability and better padding. If you can obtain fusible wadding then all the better, but if not, don’t worry!

I use  a rectangular template which measures approx. 19 x 10 cm.  You will need to slightly curve one corner to given a rounded more professional appearance too.  However, if you have super fashionable large sunglasses, you will need to re-measure and make yourself a larger template. Similary, if you wish to make a case for a child’s glasses, then you will need a smaller template.

Firstly, cut out your outer fabric, lining and wadding. You should end up with a fabric sandwich of 3 layers; the lining fabric right way up on the bottom, the wadding in the middle and finally the outside fabric wrong side down on top.

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Pin all layers together, leaving a couple of inches gap in the middle of one of the sides.  (You can see this indicated by the 2 large pins at the bottom of the picture).  You will need this gap as the fabric needs to be turned out). Machine stitch all the way round (minus the gap!). Cut off any excess wadding and clip the corners.  Then turn out so the right side of the fabric is now visible.  Iron  all the square layers to make it easier and flatter to sew.

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The next step is to handsew the gap that you turned the fabric in from.  Once you have finished that, proceed to sew a topstitch all the way around again with the outer fabric facing you.

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When that is complete, fold the square in half and start stitching the open side about 2 inches from the curved top, leaving enough room to put your sunglasses easily in and out.  Sew to the end.

You shoukd have a lovely sunglasses case just like mine, which are available to purchase in my Etsy shop. https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/510562797/sunglasses-fabric-holders?ref=shop_home_active_1

Enjoy!

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La La land! – The Yellow Dress!

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I was looking forward to watching La La Land when I saw the trailer well before Christmas.  My husband wasn’t so enthusiastic!  You just know when you are going to love a film and I knew I would love this film.  Yes, I saw the headlines and heard about the awards, but it didn’t matter to me as I couldn’t wait to see it and didn’t really care if it had bad reviews.  (It didn’t by the way!).

Readers of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of the 1950’s and 1950’s style dresses in particular!  I was even surprised that the film was set in modern day as from the trailer and the pictures I had seen, the women were all wearing lovely summer A line frocks!

Why not make your own?  The spotty yellow sundress in the opening credits of La La Land I coveted from the moment I set eyes on it.  This is just my style.  Indeed, my mind was going round with buying spotty yellow fabric and making a dress from a similar pattern that I have and that has been well used. The Butterick B4443 easy dress pattern can be adapted for 6 different styles of basically the same dress.  I’ve made a few dresses from this pattern and its really easy. https://butterick.mccall.com/B4443

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Indeed, there is a lovely article in the Guardian newspaper about the joys and benefits of wearing yellow, based on Emma Stones’s dress.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/style/la-la-land-yellow-optimistic-colour-everyone-should-wearing/

I love these 1950’s collar style shirts too.  I first saw them on Mad Men, when Betty Draper used to wear them all the time, back in the early series.  I did actually buy several similar designs last summer from Marks and Spencer’s; a lovely light lemon one and a pretty blue blouse which is an exact copy of the one in the picture below that Emma Stone is wearing.

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This leads us to the halterneck dress.  I have a couple of these lovely dresses that I have purchased from Boden over the years.  They do get worn on exceptionally hot days in the summer and mainly also on holiday in the summer sun! I do like this style of dress, not many people seem to wear it much and prefer the strappy sundresses that are often in abundance.  However, I think it looks classy and has a lovely old fashioned theme to it.

There is a nice looking halterneck dress from New Look patterns.  I’ve never made one of these dresses, but let me know if you have and if it is easy or difficult to make. ttp://www.simplicitynewlook.com/6457/

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Finally that brings me onto the sweetheart neckline, again very stylish and classy. This neckline has been around for ages and does wonders for emphasising the bust area.  These necklines are often low cut.  They are traditionally used for more formal wear, especially wedding dresses.

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It was quite hard finding a sweetheart neckline dress sewing pattern that would be do-able. However the Sewaholic Cambie dress with sweetheart neckline looks as though it could be made into a stunning dress. I might give it a try.

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http://www.sewaholicpatterns.com/cambie-dress-pdf-sewing-pattern/

There you go!  Lots of fabulous inspiration for making your own La La Land clothes!  Let me know how you all get on!  Roll on the summer now when we might actually be able to wear them!