Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Burda Style February 2012

I got a bit confused and I thought I had already published this post, turns out I hadn't but here is my Feb review.  March will be coming up soon too.
Skirt 123 B
I really love stripes at the moment so this section called Yipes Stripes was right up my street.  I particularly love this jersey skirt and I think I will have to make some as soon as I can find some striped jersey somewhere.  It really reminds me of this skirt posted on Adventures in Dressmaking. 
Tunic 108 A
I quite like this tunic from the Asian Inspiration section as it would look great in a floaty fabric for summer.  There are some great patterns in this section but they would look nicer in pretty prints like the one above rather than the solid black of some of them. 
Skirt 109 B
I love this print too, really pretty and the paper bag style waist is something I have been wanting to try.  It wouldn't be the best length on me but it looks good on the model with boots.
Jacket and belt 105
I am a big fan of brights so the Colour Blocking section should be for me.  I found that it combines just a few too many colours in one look so instead of being on trend it looks a little clownish but I do love this bright orange jacket and purple belt.  I would be very tempted to make the belt in different colours to wear with different outfits but I am not sure how well it would stay in place without slipping as it is just tied at the front. 
Dress 141
How cute is the back of this dress?  It may be a childrens size but I want an adult version!  The cute collar, bow and button back is totally something I would wear.
Dress 134
The plus size wedding section is not overly inspiring, they are quite simple clean line dresses and suits but I really like this empire line bow dress.  It would be a really nice bridesmaid dress or for a guest in a less bridal colour.
Bolero 136
This little lacey shrug is really sweet too.  I would imagine it would be quite difficult to get the scalloped edge all the way round when making it up though. 
DIY Trend
I am not a big fan of all over denim, I know it is supposed to be back in fashion but to me it just looks far too '80's and not in a good way.  I don't think many people will be wearing patchwork denim shirts and jeans this spring!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

My Retro Style Icon...

Solanah at Vixen Vintage is having a giveaway to win Topshop vouchers on her blog and all you have to do is blog about your retro style icon.  I also love Smeg, the fridges particularly!  If you do to click here for the retro collection.   This got me thinking about mine.

There isn't really a particular film star or celebrity whose retro style I admire, although I love some of the outfits Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Judy Garland wore I don't love everything about them.  I also think modern actresses do retro style really well like Zooey Deschanel, Amy Adams and Emma Stone.  Again I wouldn't say I am inspired by them though.

Then I realised the best retro icon I could pick was a fashion designer and it would have to be Christian Dior for his New Look.  So much of the '50's fashion that I love today sprang from his original collection that it would be silly for me to pass it up.  If I could wear one of these gowns today I would be a very happy lady!
Venus Dress
Cherie Dinner Dress
La Cigale Dress
Junon Dress
My retro style icon is Christian Dior and the New Look.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Emerald City Wedding Party Dress

When I was invited to my friends wedding reception which is being held this weekend I got very excited as it is the first of my friends getting married and because I thought I should make my own dress.  As it is a February wedding I didn't already have something suitable, most of my more formal dresses are floral and summery.  I had a look through the Sew Weekly Make This Look section which is really great for inspiration and quickly found the lovely Yellow Bow Prom Dress from River Island.   I was planning on entering it in that week of the Sew Weekly challenges but I missed the deadline due to people being sick from work so I entered it in the UFO challenge instead.

I really love this dress but again yellow would not be good for winter.  I did a fair bit of shopping around between fabric websites to find what I wanted and finally settled on Abakhans teal taffeta (warning- it is not teal, more emerald green but it photographs nearer teal) and satin backed dupion in sage.  I paid a little bit more for fancier material but it was with Christmas money and it is for a special occasion so I don't mind this time.
 I really love this dress!  The pattern came together really quickly and easily and is really very versatile.  There are several great dresses around from this pattern so I have no doubt I will be making it again.  The neckline is really flattering and the darts and pleats were fun to put in.  I did worry that it wasn't going to fit at one point but I held my breath and added the zipper and it was fine.  I did reduce the seam allowance in a couple of places and cut a little extra off the under arm as I  normally find them a bit tight but I don't think I even needed to do that in this dress.  
Pretty pleats!
I used my new zipper method and although this one didn't go in as easily as the last it still gave a clean finish.  The fabric is really quite thin and slightly slippy so I think that is why it was more difficult.  I remained patient when I unpicked though, which is unlike me!
I made it to be tied in the bow at the front but you can also wrap the sash like above or tie it at the back and leave the front plain.  I think this would be a really good bridesmaid dress pattern and the taffeta I use has a slightly permanently wrinkled look to it which means it won't show that much if it gets creased.  (It sounds nicer than I have written it!)  
In day light to show the colours better
I think I will tack the bow in place on the day to stop it flopping about and undoing as I think it looks nicest stood up in a pretty bow.
 I will wear it with black tights and my black flocked heels (which I love!) on the day but not sure what I am doing about hair and jewellery yet.  You can see the floppy bow here, not so nice as the first arranged picture I think.  I expect after all the dancing it will look floppy though!  So what do you think?  I was a little worried I might look more like a bridesmaid than just a wedding guest but I think their colours are blue and white so I should be safe!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Time for a little research

I recently bought a few patterns from a charity shop and in the envelope of the pattern above and it was this lovely little note.
How wonderful!  I love it when you occasionally come across things like this.  This note is dated Feb 1973 which is interesting as the pattern it was in was dated 1960 but is also not one of the ones listed to me made as uniform.  This got me thinking, was the mother cutting out a dress for herself and absent mindedly tucked her daughters note in here?  Or was this pattern previously suitable for uniform?  Or was she a messy dressmaker like me and left things lying around and it ended up in the wrong place?  So I decided to do a bit of investigation.

The pattern was bought at Heelas which was the name of the department store in Oxford which is now a John Lewis.  The locals still know it as Heelas and this is the place listed in the letter for the dressmaker to get her fabric and patterns from and according to an old pupil, even their knickers!  Theale Green School is now called Theale Green Community School and is still teaching pupils today.  The school was originally founded by the very same Ken J V Shield who appears on the letter as headmaster.  It was originally called Theale Grammar School and changed names in 1973 which is the year this letter was written.  The current school uniform colour is green and previously I have found out (see comments) that it was green and gold and the summer dresses were lilac and white striped.  It seems strange nowadays to think that parents had to purchase the materials and make the uniform for their children.

I have also had a good look using the Vintage Pattern wiki to see what I can dig up on the patterns listed.
Simplicity 9800 1971
This is the first pattern and view 3 is on the far left.  I really like this dress and the collar is a really interesting shape and the puff sleeves are really sweet.  Also the length is interesting as the letter states 'skirts should not be excessively short' and the pattern is already well above the knee.  The letter says it can have any style sleeve, cuff or pocket which I find really interesting as it gives quite a lot of scope for creating something unique. 
Simplicity 8881 1970
View 1 is on the left and is even shorter again.  The neckline and fuller skirt are very pretty, I don't think I would mind wearing any on these!

I have found (and purchased) Style 3954 and View 3 is the yellow dress with the oh so cute puffy sleeves.  I wouldn't have minded wearing any of these to school!
Style 3992
My ebay search has come up trumps again!  This is the final pattern on the list, view 2 and 3, both with short sleeves are on the list.   I really love this pattern too!  The little puffed sleeves and the princess seams are really sweet, plus I love that the illustrations are holding hands.  Unfortunately this has only come up in a size 16 so far but I will definatley be looking out for this in my size. 

So there we are, mystery solved!

Oxford Charity Shop Bargains!

Style 4467 1973
This week I spent a day in Oxford visiting the museums and markets and picking up a few bargains along the way.  There was a really lovely 1950's pattern on a stall in the outdoor market but it was a bit expensive for something I know I wouldn't be using right away and will sit in my stash so I passed it by.  The same lady have a 1910 one too but that was way out of my price range and was a childs pattern so I was not very likely yo use it.  I did however find some lovely new-to-me patterns in a charity shop for 50p!  If anyone gets a chance to go it is in the indoor market and has lots of knitting and sewing patterns as well as wool and the odd bit of fabric!  Heaven! 

I got this 1973 pattern above because I loved the ruffles and the white details outlining the bodice on the pink dress.  The shorter dresses are very wearable now.
Woman's Weekly B496
I don't know the date of this pattern but looking at the Vintage Pattern Wiki it must be 1960's. This is a great resource and I always add my patterns to it if I cannot find them on there as it is great to have some record of different patterns, styles and dates.  I like the double-breasted style top but this is the least inspiring of the patterns.  I'm not sure what colour of pattern to make it out of.  Any ideas?
Woman's Weekly B915
I absolutely love this one!  I have a real thing for pin tucks and this is right up my street.  The obi style belt is really cute too and the Chinese style collar is fab.  I can see this in a sleeveless version in pale blue with lace already!  The funny thing about this one is that it has an illustration of Venice's Bridge of Sighs and we had just been to see the Oxford copy of the bridge that morning!  I wonder if that is why the original owner bought it?
Oxford Bridge of Sighs
McCall's 5553 1960
This one is in a pretty bad way.  the envelope is torn open on both ends and the pattern was falling out.  I took a gamble on it as it would be perfect for the Sew Weekly Mad Men challenge coming up( (plus it was 50p).  When I got home I got it out and the 2 skirt pieces and the neck facings are missing.  Not too bad, I can re-draft the neck but I will have to find something else for the skirt.  I am hoping I can.  If anyone out there has this pattern I would be happy to pay for the skirts pieces traced off.

In this envelope there was also a very interesting little note which I will do another post on as I have been looking into where it came from.  I love it when you find little things like this, such as shopping lists of bookmarks in things you have bought second hand. 

In the same shop I picked up this white dotted polycotton for £4 I think this would make a really cute little shirt.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

January Books List

In my resolutions for the new year I stated I wanted to start a book review section of my blog.  I don't want to detract from the crafty and sewy side of my blog but reading is also a big part of my hobbies so I thought it would be nice to do a mini review each month.  I am going to keep it short and sweet as I don't want to bore people who are not interested and so people can skip the post to get back to the sewing if they want :p
 I have a soft spot for the fantasy genre I read avidly as a teenager but didn't want to start a new series so I read this standalone book by Guy Gavriel Kay.  I really enjoyed it, it is a big chunk of a book but don't let that scare you off.  The characters are so well defined and none of them are your standard princess of hero they all have flaws and traits that makes them far more endearing and realistic to the reader.  The quest to restore the name of the lost land is really interesting and I love that you get to see it from the 'goodies' and 'baddies' perspective which makes you realise that those black an white definitions are never the reality.  It has a great twist at the end which I always love in a good novel.  I also love the depiction to sex and relationships in the novel which is much more of a modern day attitude rather than the medieval virginal girls which you normally get in fantasy books.

Read this if you like fantasy and authors like Robin Hobb, Tad Williams and David Eddings.

 The first of the Richard and Judy Spring 2012 book club Before I Go To Sleep is a thriller dealing with the main characters amnesia and her rather suspicious husband and doctor.  This is not something I would normally read but I normally follow the R+J book club (not because I trust their opinions on books but it is part of my job, that said I will give my honest opinion here not just make you want to buy them!)  I really enjoyed this book, it is one you have to sit down and read all at once as you just have to find out the truth of the story.  It twists and turns and even when you think you have it figured out it twists again.

 Read this is you like thrillers and books you cannot put down.

The second R +J book was touted to be like Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson as it is one of those Swedish crime thrillers that have popped up all over the place since the popularity of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meant it got made into 2 separated film series and sold a bjillion books.  I was disappointed with this book though.  The writing style is really hard to get your head round to begin with and the plot lacks pace which meant I didn't really care about the crimes that had been committed and getting to the bottom of them.  It was new to have a female detective in Swedish crime fiction, they are normally hard-drinking divorced middle aged men but she was a hard-drinking divorced nearing middle aged woman so in some ways it wasn't dissimilar.  Towards the end of the book the pace did pick up but I wouldn't rush out to read more by Kallentoft.

Read Stieg Larsson instead unless you are really into this genre.

I have been reading the Raymond E. Feist Midkemia series since I was a teenager and in the past few years I started re-reading them from the beginning.  This book is the first in the final ever trilogy Feist is writing about his fictional land and I will be sorry to see it go but I do feel the characters are all getting a little watered down with time.  However I really enjoyed this first instalment, each book has characters from the next generation in several families and it is easy to fall in love with them.  It has a great twist at the end regarding the identity of the demons that emerge at the beginning of the book and is a story of upheaval in the kingdom once again.  It is obviously gearing up for a big confrontation scene in the last book and I really hope it goes out with a bang.

Read this if you like the fantasy genre and authors like Anne McCaffery and Robin Hobb.  If you want a taster of Feist read Magician his first book which can also be read as a stand alone.

Friday, 3 February 2012

A Late Christmas Present!

I'm back from my trip to see friends and we exchanged presents from Christmas, it is a bit of a tradition for us to give our presents late, mainly because we are both craft procrastinators!  Kylie loved her Dorothy top and wore it all day, I was really happy that it fitted and she loved it so much.  She gave me a cute crocheted bag and this lovely Primrose Bakery Cookbook.  I am a sucker for cook books.
We made these cinnamon cupcakes with marshmallow icing and they were delish!  The icing is really easy and tastes just like gooey marshmallow.  The cakes were supposed to be the Nutella cupcake mix but the oven was dodgy and burnt the Nutella on the top of the mix.  I am def going to try them again though at home with my own oven.
Next we tried the triple chocolate layer cake with caramel buttercream icing.  The sponge was really lovely but we found the icing was a bit sickly and the whole batch hardened up so quickly it was hard to spread on the cake.
I am really glad to have this book, there are so many really lovely recipes in it that are based around different flavours rather than just different ways to decorate cakes like some books.  I recommend it!