Thursday, 27 December 2012

Goldhawk Road Haul

Mr C.T. and I were in London at the start of December for an exciting mixture of events including:

  • visiting friends,
  • shows (the Green Day musical and the Black Keys - both great), 
  • exhibitions (Hollywood Costume at the V&A - I was a tad disappointed with the way things were displayed to be honest) and 
  • trips to old faithfuls - the Natural History Museum.

Every time I have the pleasure of being in London, I always try to fit in a trip to Goldhawk Road, and this trip was no different.  I can't believe that there are plans afoot to get rid of some of the shops.  So silly.

I went will the aim of buying some faux fur to make this shrug from the October Burda magazine.  Of course, I came home with much more.  It's a good thing Mr C.T. is so understanding!

I found the fur (£12.50 for half a metre, plus £2.50 for some lining).  It's a lovely sable kind of colour, with a long, soft pile.  It's very snuggly :-)

I got some other lovely treats as well:
  • A medium weight cotton with a beige background and buildings etched in black with a few flowers (that remind me of bougainvillea's).   This will be made into a dress with a fitted bodice, boat neck and full skirt.  I'm thinking that it could be really sweet to have a cut out in the back with a button fastening at the neck... I fell in love with this material when I first saw it and was scared that it would be really dear (that's how much I loved it).  But, heavens above, it was £5.50 per metre, 150 wide.  So three metres came home with me.
  • Sequined material for Burda 12/2012/107 (below).  Material like this is normally ridiculously priced, so when I entered the first shop and saw this bolt of bronze sequins for £4.99, I knew it was going to be a good trip!  I got some slinky stretchy stuff to line it with too (£5 per metre - it always makes me giggle when the lining is more expensive than the outer material, tee hee).  I have a feeling it is going to be an absolute brute to sew with though...  
  • Jersey knit (with a gold fleck) material for Burda 10/2012/119 (for some reason I can't get the photo to upload - it's a long sleeved t-shirt with fake wrap around front).  £3.50 per metre, 150 cm wide
  • Cotton brocade (?) kind of stuff, £5 per metre, 150 cm wide.  This is quite heavy in weight, and I'm going to make the jacket from OOP Vogue 1028, which is so out of print it doesn't even exist on Vogue's website anymore!  I might try and get the skirt/dress cut out too, but I'm 20 cm short of fabric, so I might be on a hiding to nothing there.

I think I'm going to make the sequined skirt and gold t-shirt combo first - seems like the perfect outfit for seeing in Hogmanay!

Compliments of the season to you all :-)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Vogue Vintage Vogue Competition – An Update

Remember back when I wrote that I had submitted an entry to the Vintage competition being run by Sew Today Magazine?  Well, I would never have thought that I would be writing a post like this.... but, I am so chuffed to say that I was awarded a place as runner-up!  I can’t remember the last time I entered anything, let alone got a prize!  I am over the moon, and also more than a little embarrassed.  I was archetypal over-achiever at school, but always used to get quite embarrassed if I won anything, and sulk like mad if I didn’t.  Must have been a joy for my parents/ siblings, non?

Anyway, my prize pack included a year’s subscription to Sew Today and two patterns of my choosing.  I tooed and frowed (how is that spelt?!) for ages, thinking: I should get one of the really outlandish patterns, that I would never normally pay for... but then I figured that the cheap part is buying the pattern, so I should really choose ones that I would actually make.  So I plumped for:

     Vogue 1324 as I have had a crush on this skirt and blouse combo ever since it came out, and I have appropriate fabric lurking (read: making me feel guilty) in my sewing room

         Vogue 8804 as I have been wanting to make (read: test my sanity to breaking point) a Chanel inspired jacket since seeing the movie about Chanel with Audrey Tatou as Coco.  I also *ahem* have fabric for this in my sewing room (blushing madly).

As an aside, I would REALLY like to make Vogue 8858 for next year’s Burns Supper, but 7 metres of material is really putting me off, not to mention all the hems that are bound to be on the edges of all those flounces.  And ultimately I’m a tad worried I wouldn’t end up having the chutzpah to wear it and it would hang forlornly in my wardrobe (which let’s be honest, has a disproportionate amount of evening wear given that I am not a society gal).

As a further aside, do other hobbies give pleasure and guilt in equal measure?  I mean, sometimes I look at the fabric, makes, patterns, books and various other accoutrement's in my sewing room (thank heaven it’s a boxroom!) and think – I could have done something serious with all this!  My wonderful husband maintains sewing is serious.  There is no doubt in my mind; that man is a gem made especially for me.

First and Second prize went to two ladies who really knocked things up a level:
  • The winner of first prize inserted a lace panel in the back (very on trend for A/W 2012/13) shortened the skirt and used a different fabric (and colour I wager) from the original pattern.

  • The second prize went to a lady who took a pattern with a readily recognisable vintage style and changed it completely through fabric choice and by essentially changing the skirt from beyond full to straight.  This has such an impact on the end result!

To me, both of these examples taught me a few things in terms of design: how important perspective and relative scale are, and how fabric choice can impact overall design.  I had never thought of making either of these changes to either of these patterns (not that I’m suggesting my ideas should be the litmus test for whether something is clever or not – rather this is evidence of the lack of creativity I have for a creative person).

The prizes for first and second place were sewing machines.... so guess what I’m hoping Sew Today will do next year?  Yup, run the competition again.... Hey, I never said I was bashful  ;-) 

Friday, 28 September 2012

Basic Shazam!

Sometimes, a gal just needs something fun to wear.  Well, that moment happened to me recently.  I was sick of all the things in my wardrobe and felt like something new, with a bit of pluck.  Does anyone else use that word any more?  I love it.  As in, "doesn't that girl have a lot of pluck?!"  I can't quite decide if it's ill mannered to be plucky, but then that's me in a nutshell, so it's probably quite apt.


I liked Vogue 1304 as soon as I saw it.  Or at least, I liked parts of it...

Personally, I think this dress has a bit too much on show to ever work with me.  But be still my beating heart; the lines of that skirt had me swooning.  So, I just ignored the top.  And isn't that the beauty of sewing clothes!  The skirt is pretty short (it's at the drafted length on me, and I'm only 5'6).  I only had 1 metre of fabric so I actually didn't have enough material to make it exactly like the pattern.  So I just took out two of the pleats - one from the front and one from the back.  My fabric is quite heavyweight - it's a home furnishing satin in fact - so it doesn't hang very fluidly, but I like that.  It's lined with some bright turquoise satin. 

The pattern is easy to follow and true to size (well, by that I mean the size I normally make in Vogue fits me, but I don't make the size I should per the envelope... does anyone incidentally?).

To go with it, I made a simple white top.  This is from an old, old Burda pattern (like 14 years old - and I still have the one my mother made me from it originally!).  It's a simple batwing top made from two layers of chiffon, with the outer layer hemmed with lace.    

It is quite scandalously short - so I have to wear heals with it (and be *very* careful when I sit on a chair - i.e. only perched on the edge, like a proper lady!). The eagle eyed of you might notice that I'm wearing my comic decoupage shoes in this shot!

Apologies for the evil eyes and slight blurriness - using a mobile phone was the compromise to get Mr. CT to take these before we ran out the door to catch the bus....

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A/W 2012/2013 Vogues - my wishlist

Here are the patterns that I like the most from the current offering from Vogue... I wonder how many I'll actually end up making? ;-)

There have been mixed responses to the patterns recently aired by Vogue, with a number of people saying they don't like the poses.  I think they are kind of funny, and that it's cool that these could be in a fashion magazine.  I think it shows a certain pride in their work - that they are aspiring for their patterns to be high fashion (which I think they do quite well for what it's worth).

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Vintage 2.012

“Vintage” style is so prevalent in mainstream trends at the moment, that at first I found it difficult to decide how to update a “Vintage Vogue” pattern to bring it in to the modern era. That quandary made the premise of the Sew Today competition all the more intriguing to me.  After all, the fact that these vintage patterns have been reissued alone shows that they are still relevant and appealing to women in today’s era.  

The task was seemingly simple: take a Vintage Vogue pattern and update it by any means you wish.  No limits on how it was to be updated: embellishment, alteration, appliqué, accessories, you name it.  Funny how having a lot of choice sometimes makes things more difficult...  

I knew I wanted to enter this competition as soon as I saw it, as it represented a real challenge to me.  I often do not give myself free reign to create, but like it when I summons the courage to do so!  Plus, the drawing in the magazine spread of the updated pattern was so appealing – I wanted to create something that stylish!  At first, looking through the patterns was scary – they all seemed so perfect as they were, so why should I change them and how would changes make them more modern, let alone not better?

I decided to focus on a current trend and let that help put some parameters on my design.  A walk through any shop on the high street, or a glance at any magazine will attest to the fixation that Brits have with letting their hair down over summer, preferably at a festival of some sort; especially so this year, what with the Jubilee, Wimbledon, Olympics, Paralympics and plethora of music festivals.  One trend that seems to be transcending all of these events is the jumpsuit.  For something that is pretty impractical to wear, this trend has had some serious staying power! 

Armed with this idea, I set about assessing patterns for their suitability, and honed in on these three (L-R:  Vintage Vogue 1044, 8812, 2960).

Lunchtimes at work were happily spent amending line drawings to show what each dress might look like as a jumpsuit.  Ultimately, I decided on 2960 in the end as the portrait neckline is flattering and flirty (and great for catching a tan) whereas I felt the other two would result in jumpsuits more suited to children (just in an adult size!).

This pattern is fun to sew.  The bodice panels are designed to fit the body really well, and the waist isn’t as nipped in as the drawing would suggest.  The pattern includes bound buttonholes with thorough instructions, and period appropriate seam finishes.
I altered the pattern by:
  • Inserting a full lining – my fashion material was quite thin and I wanted something to give it more heft and to stop it being see-through.  Using a white lining also meant that the colours in the plaid and the strawberries were more vibrant.
  • Hand finishing my buttonholes – humouring the “shabby chic” feel of the material by adding a layer of handcraft to my project
  • Binding the edge of the facings – lemon yellow satin bias binding around the bottom of the facings to continue the “shabby chic” idea (lemon and white is a lovely colour combination)
  • Dropping the waist to hip height – not so many of our clothes focus on the waist these days, so dropping the waist to hip-height helped to bring the pattern into 2012
  • Replacing the skirt with a pair of shorts – full, mid calf skirts are not worn by many women in 2012; but short shorts are!   I included pleats in mine for wearing ease and pockets for usefulness.
  • Hemming the shorts with lace – the final step in pulling the “shabby chic” ensemble together
Swapping out a skirt for shorts is fairly easy.  The main things to consider are: height of the shorts and circumference of the shorts compared to the bodice.  The shorts must be sufficiently long in the torso to ensure they fit and are comfortable (you don’t want to be giving yourself a wedgie after all) and the circumferences of the shorts and bodice need to match at the waist to make sure they fit together properly.
So how does it look?  Here you go! 

I tell you what; this process has taught me how hard it must be to be a model - I felt like SUCH a dork having these photos taken and actually called it quits before we were finished!

Pictures from: Vogue, and photos from Mr. CT!

Monday, 23 July 2012

My international sewing parcel of mystery!

Imagine my delight when I came home to find a parcel waiting for me, which had come all the way from the US of A.  Cue excitement!  It was my present from the very witty Prttynpnk (who resides here).  How sweet!  Here are the items she kindly gave me, and a loose set of plans for each of them:
Vintage Notions: 14 cream and gold buttons and four plastic slides.  The buttons are perfect for closing a blouse that I have been thinking about making for about 3 months now (ever since my favourite one went in the wash with something navy....).
I think I'll use the slides as closures on bags for my two youngest nieces.  I'm picturing bags for their lunches in some bright, fun fabric. 
Gorgeous floral fabric: this is so soft to the touch and has a lovely drape.  It would make a lovely blouse or skirt - I just need to decide on a pattern :-)
Sumptuous pastel paisley: this is a big square with edges like a scarf.  I am tempted to make a rolled hem around each edge and turn it into a lovely scarf.  The colours are lovely (probably not done much justice in my photo I'm afraid) and the material has a ridge in it which makes light glance off it in interesting ways.  Couple that with the silky feel of the fabric and the colours, and I think it would be a flattering scarf on me.  But is that a waste?!  After all, it could be a pretty blouse as well!

Two vintage patterns.  These are simply fantastic and I can see multiple versions of each in my wardrobe!  I can see these for both work and play.  I can't decide which is my ultimate favourite, but I think it *might* be the yellow on the left... or is it the highly adaptable on the right?  

Thank you so much Prttynpnk!  You managed (with not much to go by given how new to blogging I am!) to gift me things that I love, are a challenge and that suit my style.  I can only hope that you enjoy your parcel as much when it arrives - which I hope is very soon if it hasn't already.  I must say I was quite daunted when I first started to think about what to get you - your posts are so humorous!  But it was your critiques on fashion shows that finally got me.  I love them by the way - brilliance!

Thanks also must go to Kerry for this wonderful, well managed event.  Not only did I get this lovely selection of sewing pressies, but I found some more wonderful blogs to look over - never a bad thing! 

So, thank you very much ladies!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Decoupage Shoes - Finished!

I decided there was something missing - a little bling.  So I bought a bejewelled clasp and some ribbon online and popped them on the front. 

Now we're ready to party!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

When is a back-handed compliment just a compliment?

Last weekend, I braved the weather and went to the Isle of Wight festival.  For the record, the weather forecast had been predicting days of heavy rain for weeks, and there are loads of good options for getting to the Isle via public transport.  So neither did I have to sleep in a car for 14 hours, nor did I feel compassion for any of the numpties walking around the site in high heels (yup, seriously - I am not making that up).  Anyway, we had a load of sun - see!:

Me, with sunburn (despite having applied day-long SPF30 sunscreen)
I had an awesome trip, spent with (some of) my besties listening to great music (the Boss, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, the Vaccines, Example, Elbow etc etc).  In true 'what goes on tour, stays on tour' fashion; there is a lot that will remain unspoken about this weekend.  I don't really know why people say that (other than to be mean and exclude), but I do know that it would bore everyone else if I went on and on and on about it.  However, there is one thing that I will share with you:

Whilst waiting to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (who were ah-maze-balls), I befriended (in the loosest sense of the word as you'll see) some fellow kiwis.  I don't know how much my junior they were, but one upstart (tee hee) told me I was "a cougar".  Now, I told one of my girlfriends this in disgust, and she said I should take the compliment as one "has to be hot to be a cougar"... fair point I suppose, but I was focusing on the other prerequisite: i.e. age.  At the time, I retorted to the guy that being called a cougar required me to want to score him, which I didn't, therefore I wasn't (a la the scene in In Bruges where the two main characters discuss the relative merits of Bruges as a tourist destination):

If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me 
but I didn't, so it doesn't... wah ha ha, I love it.
Funnily enough, I didn't see much of him (annoying kiwi upstart) after that.  So, to the meaning of this post: who actually makes a back-handed compliment just that?  Is it the person giving it (they might be being snide and not meaning the compliment at all, or just stating the obvious) or the recipient (perhaps it only had negative connotations because of my own fear of ageing)?....

Either way, I won't be getting the leopard print tights out any time soon.

Kath and Kim anyone?

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Cool Decoupage: Comical Shoes

I have some pale beige shoes that I never wear and which are sitting taking up valuable space on my shoe rail. The other day I thought to myself how fun it would be to have some shoes which had comic characters on them, and I suddenly thought of these shoes, sitting there, wasted.

So, I got myself some glue, comics, decoupage  varnish and some paint brushes and set about making myself some new shoes. 
The ingredients

The comics I chose were two Batman stories. This took a fair amount of consideration if I'm honest, because I didn't want anything too goth or too childish or too, *how shall I say this nicely?* (sod it) fetish/sexy like - Batman seemed the best option on balance. First up, I made sure the shoes were clean.  Then I ripped up pages from the phone book (came in handy after all!) and stuck the little bits all over my shoes.  This provides a base for the comics both in terms of an even background and something to adhere to.  Then I picked pictures with sufficient commonality to make sense and glued them over the top. Next I 'varnished' the shoes with clear nail polish (multiple times).

Here's the finished article (pre varnish - the loose bits don't stick out anymore):

I'm contemplating sticking on some trinkets a la Irregular Choice shoes, but fear that's when they go from being quirky/cool to being daft.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

On my Work in Progress pile

I am slowly making progress on my entry for the Vintage Sewing competition....

The bodice is keeping Maisie partially modest thus:

With the remaining pieces cut out and ready to go:

All that's left is for me to make some time, ha ha.  Our household has been host to a number of visitors lately (including separate visits from two friends from School/Uni days, and two in the form of a 24 hour 'flu); two new jobs to consider (whoop!) and general mayhem.

It's months like these that I take my hat off to anyone that has more than two people in their household!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Updating Vintage Patterns - A Sew Today Competition!

I don’t normally purchase Sew Today (or any sewing magazine other than Burda for that matter), but when I saw that they were doing a spread on sewing a ‘chanel style’ jacket, I thought it would be worth a look.  I duly went online and ordered the magazine from Newsstand and received it a few days later.  I have to say, the service from Newsstand is great – loads of titles and so quick and easy to order 1, 2, 3 or 100! 

I purchased the current issue, thinking it was the correct one, but it turns out that I should have purchased the June one.  I don’t know if this is because I didn’t read properly (highly likely), because the naming/issuing of magazines in the UK still confuses me after 7 years (equally highly likely but possibly unrelated), or because I was just plain excited and didn’t think about rational things like dates and issues (most probable of the lot).  Whatevs, I’m just glad I didn’t accidentally buy Top Gear or something.

By happy coincidence, I went back and bought the right issue later.

To be honest, there wasn’t a great deal in the May copy that piqued my interest, however one thing really did: the competition to modernise a vintage sewing pattern.  I *love*seeing how people refashion clothes/patterns, and always want to give it a whirl, but I’m the type of person that needs some parameters to be creative.  Seemingly unrelated but not, we’re off to the Isle of Wight Festival at the end of June and I am crossing my fingers to point of them falling off that we will have beautiful weather.  So, naturally I am hoping to make some clothes that can only be worn in stinking hot, sunny festival weather.  After all, a gal can dream can’t she?

So, anyway, this competition represents a timely challenge to me.  

The idea is to take a Vintage Vogue or Retro Butterick pattern and make something that rises "to the challenge of change...through fabrics, silhouette changes and styling".  Sounds fun, no?

I’m not going to give too much away, but I’m thinking of using one of these patterns to make something relevant to 2012….
Vintage Vogue 1044
Vintage Vogue 8812
Add caption
And this material….

In case you're interested, the fabric is available on ebay here

Anyone else keen to join?  There are details on the Sew Today website or you could of course look in the current magazine.  I reckon it’ll be fun to see what people retain from the original and what they change to make modern :-)

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Rise of the Phoenix (A Dress)

Stop the bus,my latest project is finished.  Phew.

Why the relief?  Well, it was a bit of a journey....

Raison d'etre...

I am the lucky (and grateful) recipient of four wedding invitations this year!  Can I get a whoop whoop?  So, I needed a new dress.  I toyed with the idea of making my own wedding dress, but decided not to.  Ever since, I've had a moment or two where I have thought how nice it would have been to make it.  So, I decided to test that theory and use one of the (3!!) wedding dress patterns I bought back in 2009....

The creation....

Armed with a voucher, I headed to Mandors and purchased some gorgeous fabric; then came home and washed it all up.  Good girl Rachel.
I then mocked up a muslin (first ever) from an old bedsheet to test the fit.  It wasn't quite Goldilocks: the top half was just right, but the bottom half was a bit snug (I need to eat/breathe/walk/dance, right?).  Cut fabric out per amendments required and set to it.

Oh!, the pattern I'm using is this one, Vogue 1032:


Somehow in sewing bits together, the bodice must have shrunk, because when I tried it on, it was too tight.  like sausage casing, I'm-not-prepared-to-admit-that-to-anyone-let-alone-the-internet tight.  BUT, that lace had cost £50 a metre (I managed to eek out what I needed from 0.5m and I ummed and ahhed so long about buying it due to the cost) that I HAD to salvage it!

So, I decided to keep the back as was, and draft a new front piece.  A piece like what I had dreamt one night anyway....
Cue pattern number two, Vogue 1203 (ooh, same numbers, different order!  BTW, I can't believe this is OOP.)

So, that's now on the front, wrapping up into the lace back.  Happy days. Skirt went on, dress was tried on and wouldn't you know it?  The skirt was a bit loose.  Odd, and annoying!  So I whacked additional width out of each side.

All that remained was hand-sewing (yay) and hemming.  I have come to the conclusion that I cannot hem things nicely.  I need to focus on improving my skills here.  My usual problems/faults are:
  • length - too short or too long.  Either way, I need to choose better lengths
  • stitching - clumsy/visible on the outside
  • hemline itself - uneven
Anywho, so I marked the length (with the dress on Maisy - my helpful dressform), thought "I really should check this" and then blithely cut it out then and there.  And I'll be honest, I wish it was a wee bit longer.  Like 2cm.  Just enough to give it that 1930's length, and to retain some of the flick of the skirt.  Whatevs.  That now lies on my sewing room floor.

The wedding is tomorrow, so I'll post some photos of me wearing it shortly, but in the meantime, meet Maisy.

 Some of the seams look a bit puckered... I hope that's not for real!

So, why the title "The Rise of the Phoenix"?  

Throughout the making of this, I felt like things kept going off-kilter, or dare I say it, even wrong.  But the dress refused to die, and I am pleased with the end result.  But, even better, I am STOKED that I didn't make my own wedding dress!  Result.

Oh, and in case you're wondering.... here's my actual wedding dress