New Projects and Updates!

Now that I’m all finished with B6242, it’s on to even better and brighter things! I’ve definitely been keeping to my pledges for 2018 and spending a lot more time both sewing and blogging. This is largely owing to some new bullet journal spreads that have really helped me to get my sewing schedule and plans under control. I hate having these sorts of plans just in the ether of my mind – it can get so overwhelming trying to mentally keep track of my various projects and objectives. Having a concrete method for scheduling out everything related to my sewing and blogging has been a massive help this January. I’ll be sharing some more insight into my current means of organising myself at some point over the next couple of weeks!

In an effort to stay on track with my other sewing goals, I’ve been thinking a lot harder about the types of makes that I want to get completed over this coming year. Although I’m not one for planning patterns too far in advance (mostly because my moods change frequently when it comes to what I want to make), one of my goals for sewing in 2018 was to find some sort of balance between vintage and everyday wear. In order to make sure that I’m working towards this, there’s obviously an amount of forethought required. Since I’ve just got finished with a very vintage-inspired make, I thought I would take a step back and try to use up some of my fabric stash on a more contemporary garment!

For a while now, I’ve had my eye on Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trousers pattern. Only once in the past have I had a go at making a pair of trousers and they were a roaring success so I’ve been super keen to try out a new pattern. I’ve always had great experiences with Sew Over It patterns and the photos of various versions of the Ultimate Trousers look so impressive. The photos also inspired my fabric choice. As you might remember, I bought the best fabric ever a few months ago on a trip to the independent fabric retailer, The Quilted Fox, here in St. Louis. The Australian print is so incredibly bold and intricate that I’ve been determined to find the perfect pattern for it! I had initially assumed that I’d go the way of making a dress or skirt but this wasn’t sitting totally right with me. So, when I started looking through the galleries for the Ultimate Trousers and seeing lots of amazing bold prints, I was seriously struck by the determination to put my fabric to work! After some consultation on Instagram, I was totally set.

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So look out for these trousers over the next couple of weeks.

In other, somewhat related, news, I’ve joined the Sew Over It PDF club! If you haven’t heard of the Club, it’s well worth a look. Membership costs just £5 and gets you a free PDF pattern, as well as exclusive first-look access at new Sew Over It PDFs and 10% off these patterns. Since PDF patterns from Sew Over It typically cost £7.50, membership to the Club actually costs quite a bit less than the price of the free PDF that you can select as a new member. Plus you get all of the added bonuses. So, if you have your eye on any Sew Over It PDF patterns, definitely consider membership. I’ve always loved their patterns and consider this a really worthy investment!

Anyway, that’s all for now! I’ll be back on Friday with more content for you. Time to get back to some shivering temperatures (I’m most definitely not adapted to Missouri winters yet) and a bit more sewing. Enjoy the rest of your week!

 

New Project!

Happy Monday, lovelies!

What a rainy couple of weeks it’s been since I last checked in. The lack of proper summer weather has left my most recent makes relatively untouched. Here’s hoping that July brings us some sunshine and a chance to whip out my petticoats and circle skirts!

I thought it was about time to check in with you all and clue you in on my current projects. Unfortunately, information will be limited since I’m working on my dress for the Big Vintage Sewalong! While I can’t show you the pattern until my final product post on August 5th, I thought I would give a sneak peek of my beautiful fabric!

Right now, I’m working on a wearable muslin of the dress – made using the brown polka dot cotton you can see in the photo (purchased at Walthamstow). This is by no means the ideal fabric to use a- it’s a little stiff for the pattern. However, it’s more than adequate to gauge fit and should turn out a cute dress.

The finished and featured dress will be made using the navy blue crepe, with the red crepe serving for some piping detail. As you will see from the finished product, this is a pattern with truly unique features and the piping should (hopefully) help to highlight the shape of the dress. The crepe fabrics were both purchased from Sew Over It.

While you wait to check out the finished garment on August 5th, take a look at the Big Vintage Sewalong website in order to see all of the available patterns. You can also look at the back catalogue of Love Sewing magazine for their feature on the Sewalong!

I’ll be back in a few days with a new Inspire A Style post. In the meantime, have a wonderful week!

The Betty Dress

Happy Wednesday, sweeties!

I spent the bank holiday weekend in a real bout of sewing productivity. With two months still to go until my Big Vintage Sew-along post, I’d been searching around for a relatively quick project to whip up before getting started. Fortunately, I had some fabric left over from my trip to Walthamstow market and so I decided to have a go at the Betty dress from Sew Over It. The final product is just gorgeous!

I’ve paired the dress with these gorgeous heels from ModCloth.

I’ve worked with Sew Over It before and found their patterns extremely easy to use. The instructions are incredibly clear, with a helpful glossary of terms at the front to help any sewing newbies. The Betty dress was no exception to this. The pattern was flawless and easy to modify sizes (I graded out at the waist slightly). The only issue I had with sizing was a lot of gape at the top of the back. This was easily fixed by removing the zip and bringing the fabric it in a bit. I’m not sure whether I hadn’t cut the pattern pieces out correctly – I’ve never had a problem with sizing the bust before. But it was a problem easily solved and the back came out perfectly, with a gorgeous deep V.

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I used a simple cotton fabric (you can see the heart detailing in the photo above). Cotton was perfect to work with on this garment – it made the whole piece really easy to sew and meant that I whipped it up in no time.

Having never made a circle skirt before, I had no idea how much fabric it would take up. And of course, this means that hemming is a pain in the neck. But it’s so worth it.

I bought an underskirt from Amazon for £10 and it totally transformed the dress into a true 1950s look. The dress looks great without it, but I would definitely recommend adding a net petticoat to take advantage of the volume of the skirt. It also means you can swoosh around and ruffle the dress while pretending to be a can-can dancer (not that I did this, of course).

I have so much love for this dress and I’ll definitely be making other versions of it in future. For now though, I’m off to ruffle my skirts some more!

 

Inspire A Style: Miss Fisher

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My love of vintage style has infiltrated almost everything. From my obsession with classic novels to the period TV dramas that are pretty much always on my television, bygone eras are well-represented in my daily life (in fact, I’m watching Mad Men as I write this). But no show has influenced my adoration of vintage fashion to quite the extent of the incredible Phryne Fisher from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

Who?

Phryne Fisher is the main protagonist in the Australian murder mystery series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Set in 1920s Melbourne, the show follows Phryne as a private detective and total badass. An incredible feminist, Phryne is also the embodiment of the flapper style.

There are many reasons to love Phryne other than her other-wordly fashion sense (although that will obviously be the focus of this post). She is a beautiful middle-aged woman, liberated from the confines of society’s traditional gender roles, and unapologetically determined to retain ownership of her life. Although this is obviously a fiction – divorced from the reality that even the most liberated women of the 1920s were limited in their autonomy – it is one that I love to take refuge in.  Watch it and, trust me, you will feel the same way.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 13.59.59Make sure to particularly enjoy Aunt Prudence’s face on the right of the shot.

Why?

So back to style. Why does Phryne Fisher deserve a particular place in my heart as fashion inspiration? The 1920s are, undeniably, a little outside of my usual era of reference. But part of the excitement in designing and constructing your own outfits is the ability to handpick a tailored combination of garments, accessories and eras. For my part, I love to extract key details from a variety of vintage periods and Phryne Fisher provides the perfect variety of ’20s evening and day glamour from which to draw inspiration.

For many present-day lovers of vintage style, the 1920s is intimidating territory. It has such a distinctive look and would be, in many respects, difficult to integrate into the everyday life of a modern woman. But Phryne Fisher’s look provides a few key details that would work perfectly for anyone inspired by the glamour and sophistication of the 1920s.

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What?

Other than a sleek bob and some gorgeous red lipstick, there is a lot to be learnt from Phryne’s embodiment of the ’20s. As spectacular as the high-glamour looks are the simple and uncomplicated garments that are very present throughout the series. The sailor smock shown in the photo above, made up in a silk/satin, shows that the 1920s were not all beads and feathers. Take this gorgeous Godet dress pattern from Burdastyle, make it up in navy silk with white detailing, and you’ve got a stunning replication of Phryne’s chic look.

Simple garments made up in interesting geometric patterns are also a key facet of Phryne’s wardrobe:

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An outfit like the above is simply done. A plain skirt paired with a bold vintage-style blouse – such as the Anderson blouse from Sew Over It – would make the perfect work-ready outfit. If you wanted to go authentic, vintage fabric that would work for this look is available from multiple sources. I’m particularly in love with the selection available at ‘Til The Sun Goes Down.

There are just so many options, all of which are totally viable for a woman who doesn’t necessarily want to look as if she’s just walked out of a costume drama. That said, always make room in your life for a long necklace and a jewel-dripped hair accessory. Phryne would.

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In the meantime, make sure to set aside some time for a Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries binge session (I know for sure that it’s available on UK and US Netflix) and give in to the fabulous Phryne Fisher.

“Beside every good man is a good woman, and she must always be ready to step in front.”

– Phryne Fisher

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you! Disregarding the origins of this holiday as something of a corporate conspiracy, it’s nice to have a day that reminds us that love is just about the greatest thing we have to share with one another. So whether you’re celebrating or not, remember to give everything that you have to give. After all, we only have each other during our short time on this planet – so use your time to put joy, laughter, and love out into the world!

For my part, I love you all. Thanks for sharing this day – and my sewing journey – with me.

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My Valentine’s Day filled with tea, cake, and my Joan dress!

The Joan Dress

It’s done! I won’t lie, it was touch and go for a while. Attaching the lining to the shell tested my patience to the limit and led to a brief ‘I will never sew again!’ moment. Thankfully sense prevailed and a few tugs-and-pulls later, things came together. So here she is – the finished product!

This pattern really challenged my (still developing) skills. As well as requiring a full lining, the dress also features my first ever kick pleat. So there was plenty here that was new for me. But I’ve always steered clear of choosing patterns on the basis of their level – I figured that sticking to ‘beginner’ or ‘advanced beginner’ patterns would not necessarily move my skills along as fast as I wanted. This strategy comes with its own set of challenges and I would say that the Joan dress was probably on the cusp of what I’m currently able to achieve. That said, I’m only 6ish months into my sewing journey, so I figure that’s not too shabby!

Anyway, let’s talk about the pattern! I decided from the outset that I wanted to invest in quality materials and use those exactly recommended. So I worked with a gorgeous red crepe and black lining fabric. These sewed up like a dream. Plus, I think the red works really well for that ’50s-era look. The pattern’s careful detailing – the tailored look achieved by the darts, plus the fabulous necktie – all enhance the vintage feel.

This is the first pattern that I’ve made from Sew Over It. It featured probably the clearest set of instructions that I’ve yet seen accompany a pattern, aided by a lot of great illustrations and diagrams. I had no problem following along and – for the first time – didn’t need to google/youtube anything for clarification. This makes me particularly happy given that I own 3 other Sew Over It patterns! The pattern also sizes perfectly. I graded out at the hips to accommodate my ample rear but had no problems with the fit at all. So you can be quite confident in the sizing chart given with the pattern.

I adore this dress. It’s got such a classy, but everyday, feel to it. And dressed up with a brooch (one of my Christmas brooches made an appearance!) or with a thin belt, it’s perfect!

So would I recommend this pattern? Absolutely. It’s simple to follow and produces a stunning dress. However, if you haven’t got any experience with lining, I would recommend either trying a simpler pattern first (I worked with Colette Pattern’s Beignet skirt as a preliminary exercise) or just be sure to take your time. But it’s well worth the effort. My Joan dress will next appear for my Valentine’s Day high-tea with my beau – the perfect garment for a day dedicated to love! Watch this space.

Inspire A Style: ‘Little Edie’ Bouvier Beale

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The beauty of sewing your own clothes is the unlimited creative freedom in putting together your own style. Part of the reason why I started sewing was my disillusionment with trying to hunt out my style of clothes from a fairly monotonous selection. Finding clothes in high-street shops is made all the harder by the fact that I handpick inspiration from a variety of eras, not usually reflected in current fashions.

After a few questions about the source of my style, I thought that it would be a good idea to introduce a series of running posts that feature my most prominent fashion role models. Today, I’m celebrating the unique style of – the little-known – Little Edie Bouvier Beale.

Who?

Little Edie is in part known for being the cousin of Jackie Onassis Kennedy (a fashion goddess in her own right). But following a scandal in which health inspectors declared the Bouvier Beale mansion ‘Grey Gardens’ uninhabitable, Little Edie was herself thrown into popular attention. In 1975, the Maysles brothers – two documentary makers – decided to make a feature about the eccentric and reclusive life lived by Little Edie and her mother (appropriately named, Big Edie) in their dilapidated and decaying mansion. The resulting filmGrey Gardens, is a poignant and revealing insight into the lives of these two women, dealing with a reality in which “it’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present.”

Edie YoungLittle Edie in her youth

Why?

One unexpected consequence of Grey Gardens was the sudden position of Little Edie as something of a fashion icon. Watching the documentary, it’s clear why. Little Edie is a woman who marches to the beat of her own drum entirely. Her style reflects this.

Due to the onset of alopecia in her twenties, Little Edie spent much of her life without any hair. As a result, Edie adopted her signature headscarves –  a defining feature of her fabulous look.

Little Edie’s life at Grey Gardens, poverty-stricken and centred around looking after her elderly mother, ensured that her style was a pick-and-mix of past eras. As Edie herself says of her wardrobe:

“My costumes? That’s a protest against having worked as a model for the Establishment, believe it or not. A lot of models feel that way. Sometimes their lives are protests against having worked as models. Besides, I didn’t have time taking care of mother to get out and buy any clothes. So I used what was left of mine and mother’s in the attic.”

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What?

Little Edie’s style is perhaps best known for the fabulous vintage headscarves, fastened with gorgeous vintage brooches. This is such an easy detail to recreate. Grab a silk (or polyester) scarf, pop it over your head, and fasten at the neck with a brooch. I have a variety of brooches – some vintage, some vintage-inspired. Really anything works.

Little Edie also inspires a love for faux fur (although I’m sure that her furs were real, please AVOID). I was hugely drawn to my new coat because of the faux fur edging, reminding me of Edie’s gorgeous looks.

Edie has inspired modern designers. Marc Jacobs and Isaac Mizrahi have both created garments based on Edie’s unique style. For a quick look at her most inspired ‘costumes’, see ‘Little Edie’s Top Ten Outfits from Grey Gardens’.

Taking this all back to sewing, it is easy to find patterns that allow for a recreation of Edie’s infamous style. One of her classiest looks is a long-sleeved shirt worn underneath a simple shift dress. Decades of Style’s Given A Chance dress would be perfect to recreate this sleek look. Sew Over It’s Cowl Neck dress would also work really well.

One of my absolute favourite looks sported by Edie is her amazing one-piece bathing suit.

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To recreate this look and create a wearable, versatile piece, take a look at Sew La Di Da Vintage’s Margo 70s Playsuit. I’ve yet to make up this pattern so I can’t vouch for its ease of use – but the finished product certainly looks fabulous!

I love Edie – for her imagination, optimism, and general resilience. She is a role model for more than her style. Find a free 90 minutes and watch Grey Gardens to discover this relatively unknown icon.

New Project: The Joan Dress

Hello darlings!

After the success of the Belle Curve dress, I’ve been in a good sewing groove. With a few excellent patterns to choose from, I finally settled on Sew Over It’s fabulous Joan dress – a 1950s mad-men inspired dress.

Joan Dress Pattern

I decided to invest in some good quality fabric for this project so went online and got myself some gorgeous red crepe. I’m already about halfway through the make and it’s sewing up like a total dream. I’ve never worked with crepe and I’ll definitely be working with it again (although hopefully at a more reasonable price than I paid for this batch).

Part of the ease of sewing this up has been the amazing instructions provided with the pattern. Obviously, I’m only a few projects into my sewing passion, but I’ve yet to work with a pattern that is so detailed and clear. Fortunately, I also have a couple more patterns from Sew Over It, which I’ll be working on in a while!

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I’ll be back soon with photos of the finished project!

As a side note, I highly recommend paying a visit to your local WHSmith (or wherever, obviously) and picking up a copy of the one-off magazine, Sew Vintage. My fiancé stumbled across it last week and I am so in love. Plus it came with two fantastic vintage repro patterns! Definitely grab a copy if you love vintage-inspired stitching.

Mag Patterns

Laura x