French Gypsy Dress

1952 French Gypsy dress

And finally, after two years of waiting in the wings, and following a match-made fabric and pattern eureka moment, my French Gypsy Dress is finished and worn already.

The pattern is by Sew La Di Da Vintage, and I knew I would love it but I could never quite decide on the fabric. The samples shown on the site and exhibited at the shows I’ve visited are so gorgeous I could never hope to get close. I love the packaging and the styling of all the patterns.

Gypsey Dress sewing pattern

I found the fabric online at Minerva Crafts, which is unusual for me. I much prefer shopping in real life! I have to touch and feel and think about it and walk from shop to shop and talk about it with the assistants before I make a call. But when I found this beaut on a random scroll, I didn’t give a second thought to what it would feel like or indeed what it was for – I just loved the colours and the black background of course. It’s a stretch cotton sateen. Quite sturdy, moderate stretch and a great lack of creasibility!




Thing is, I didn’t connect to two to begin with. And when sometime after I considered pairing them I thought it would be too weighty for the gathered upper bodice and sleeves. Though I knew the skirt would totally benefit from a bit of weight and the silhouette would be awesome.

French Gypsy Dress back

Then I got busy and all sewing plans were out the window until I got a free weekend. Woohoo! A whole undisturbed Saturday and after a pep talk with my mum it was full steam ahead. She basically said, “What are you so scared of? If it all goes pear shaped you can just get some more fabric.” Which is true of course, if not a little bit wasteful. And I could have tested on something else first but I had a window of opportunity and I wanted a new dress right there and then!

And I couldn’t be more pleased. It fits in all the right places, is flattering and comfortable too.

Construction-wise its really quite simple. The most complicated thing is taking time to make those bodice and sleeve gathers even. I know now after heaps of lazy and rushed gathering attempts in the past, that the key is to sew 2 rows of gathering stitches, either side of the intended seamline and there’s every chance your gathers will keep evenly distributed and pucker free.

1952 French Gypsy Dress

I made the binding for the neck and sleeve edges from some leftover black duchesse satin. I was prepared to rip it off if it didn’t work because I wasn’t entirely sure if it was the right kind of fabric for the job. But it was. Just perfectly right, actually!

There is a length of elastic inside the bias casing that starts and ends on the back sleeve seams. This is such a great idea because it allows for the dress to be worn on or off the shoulders and keeps the back bodice pieces completely flat. Incidentally there are no darts in the back pieces of this dress. Instead, the instructions call for a brilliant fitting stage whereby the back seam is pinned to fit and marked with chalk or an erasable pen (you will need a partner for this). Then the seam is machine tacked and pressed open so the creased edges give the perfect guide for zip insertion. It’s such a cool stage of instruction and one that I am definitely going to consider using on future makes. Is this a typical vintage construction method, I wonder?

French Gypsy dress reflection

I’m so happy with the outcome. It brightened a very drizzly day and feels so great to wear. And better still, it’s another strike off my #makenine2018 – wahooo!

I might try poomfing the skirt more with a layered petticoat and styling it up with flowers in my hair. Definitely a contender for what to wear when the Frida Kahlo exhibition hits the V&A this year.

Well it’s back to work tomorrow. But I’ll be returning with a head full of plans. That’s the trouble with a bit of time off!

 




Burdastyle satin joggers

I’m definitely on a Burdastyle roll this year. And largely thanks to Saturday Night Stitch who prompted said roll with her #burdachallenge2018 over on Instagram. I didn’t commit to a set number of projects because, knowing me, I’d end up self-sabotaging my own plans (because that’s my favourite hobby apparently) and not make any at all! So in not making a declared commitment I’ve made two glittery bell-sleeve dresses, one black, one red (quelle surprise), a red raglan sleeve top which I’ve yet to blog and these awesome satin joggers that I made for my daughter:

Satin joggers by ooobop

I feel I can say ‘awesome‘, not to big myself up but because the fabric choice and the style was all down to Little Miss O. It’s very rare that she will accept a hand-made offering these days, preferring a high street label or a funky second-hand designer deal from Depop. So when she came to me with this request I couldn’t wait to get started.

I’m so thankful for my collection of Burda mags. There’s always a something I can use or adapt but in this case, the exact pattern I needed was nestled inside issue 04/2017. And if you don’t have it in your collection it’s available as a pdf download from the Burda website

Burda satin joggers
Satin joggers from Burda Style issue 04/2017

I was a bit worried about the non-stretch factor of a satin brocade but the cut of the pattern was excellent. Allowing enough room to negate the need for expansion!




She didn’t want to include the zippered pockets. She felt that it would upset the shape of the leg, create more bulk and look ugly… Who’s the dressmaker round here?! She also rejected the drawstring at the waistline so I just incorporated an extra channel of elastic instead. talking of which, I’m a bit irritated by the ‘roll’ of the elastic. Doe’s anti-roll or non-roll elastic really make that much difference? Please let me know I’ll invest if it does. My loyalty to my Shepherds Bush haberdashery stall is strong but I feel I could possibly betray allegiance for the sake of a well-behaved elastic. Just don’t tell!

I included 3 channels of 1cm elastic at the waist. This technique worked so well for Amelia Fang’s petticoat so I didn’t see why it wouldn’t work so well for these.  The instructions called for 1.5cm width. Maybe that’s where I fell down. Or maybe that there was more fabric to gather at the waist for the petticoat and so less room for the elastic to move around.

satin joggers waistband

It’s not such a biggie when they are on. Seems to straighten out. I did stick to the instruction of 2cm wide elastic for the 2 channels at the ankle cuff and that seemed to stay in place a bit more.

satin joggers ankle cuff

These joggers sew up real quick. Especially if you’re leaving out the pockets. And even quicker when your daughter needs them in half an hour because she is going out and has ‘literally nothing to wear’. These inimitable words groans are recited literally every week accompanied by a stomp up the stairs. I’d like to say they took half an hour though the threading of the elastic probably took that long! But it really wasn’t much longer than an hour or so.

satin brocade joggers

She’s had so many lovely comments about them and already wants another pair in black with pink stripes. I’m sure she could find those in the shops but to be fair, I really like that she wants me to make them. I like that she dictates how she wants them and recognises faults and fitting issues in RTW styles. It might sound a bit princess-like. But it’s also a learning curve. She can see what time is invested and she can see what works and what doesn’t. She’s currently in the process of making herself a slip dress that she is sewing all by herself along with a group of friends, all making the same. I’d like to think that I’ve got something to do with that but I don’t like to pressurise her. I prefer just to plant the seed!

So the trade-off for a second pair was that I got to take some photos of her wearing them for my blog post. Ordinarily not too much to ask but you’d think I was asking the impossible – sabotaging her schedule and ruining her whole life! I managed a five minute shoot. With no head. And a lot of huffs. Oh those hormones. Oh the joys!




Red glitter dress with bell sleeves

red glitter bell sleeve dress

Oh what a difference a sunny day makes. Meant I could withstand a shoot for a whole 15 minutes without a coat! And I’m so happy that Daniel could do them as he did such a fab job and I’m hopeless and impatient at the whole remote thing.




This dress is a bit late to the blog but was well on time for the party. It’s the Burdastyle bell sleeve dress that I made for New Years Eve. I clearly had a bit of time on my hands because I made two of these up in the space of that week between Christmas and New Year. You can see my black glittery version in the previous blog post, here.

red litter bell sleeve dress full length

This one is way more glittery and more red and more suitable for a dance at the disco than mooch down the Marks and Spencer aisles but I think its very likely I’ll be breaking those kinda rules.




The fabric doesn’t have as much stretch as the last one but I still managed to forgo a zip, just the same. It’s a lot less snuggly on account of the high metallic thread-count but that also means it doesn’t need an iron. I only tend to press seams during the making-of, these days and avoid at all cost those mum-style marathon ironing sessions in front of the telly. I’d sooner sew than iron!

red glitter bell sleeve dress Burda style

The downside of a fabric that won’t behave under pressure (and low heat) is of course the issue of pesky popping-out facings. I tacked them down at the shoulders and at the centre back seam and still they found an escape route. So I sewed by hand, tiny little stitches close to the neckline. It’s vaguely visible but way less annoying than flappy bits of fabric spoiling the picture!

red glittery bell sleeve dress

Because I was in a rush with this one, I didn’t overlock the seams. They are ‘pressed’ open. In the loosest sense of the word, lol. But the fabric isn’t ever going to fray because I tested that by giving it a bit of rough treatment and it remained calm and intact under pressure!

red glittery bell sleeve dress

The temptation is to make another 5 of these, so then I will have one for every day of the week. It give’s no grief to sew and it gets so many compliments in return for such little effort. I haven’t really styled it much here but chokers, big floppy 70s hats, a neck-tie, a faux fur scarf or some massive earrings, could all transform this dress for a totally different look.

red glittery bell sleeve dress by the fence

Bell sleeve dress burdastyle pattern

I still might make another one at least, though! I’d like to make it in a woven – with a zip of course – just to test the difference.

 




 

 

Burda bell sleeve dress

Burda Style bell sleeve dress by ooobop

Happy new year my lovelies! I do hope you’ve all had a fabulous time and that January 2018 hasn’t arrived with too much shock to the system.

Such a weird time of year this first week of Jan. My lead up to Christmas – probably much like everyone else’s – was a flurry of work and panic shopping, drinking and feasting to excess like crazy bear people and without so much of a sniff of sewing time, and then… it’s all back to normal. Or as normal as it gets. And now I’m left in a constant state of thinking I’ve forgotten to do something, or that I’m meant to be somewhere. And it’s really hard to to rein in the graze and remember to go for the tap and not the wine bottle. Sound familiar?!




I awarded myself some sewing time between Christmas and New Year and the balance is still good so far, following week one in the work-house so I’ve signed up to Rochelle’s #2018makenine on Instagram – an easy enough challenge whereby we are encouraged to declare nine things we’d love to make throughout the year. And last night I managed to strike one of my intended projects off the list. Well two, actually, if the one I made for New Years eve counts!

ooobop 2018makenine

This dress a very gentle casual-style ease back into the sewing game kind of project: Burda Style Issue 12/2016 Bell-sleeve dress. It’s been a long while since I made anything Burda and I forgot all about wanting to make this dress till I had a had a sort out of my magazine collection. I’ve been collecting them since December 2010. I’m sure it would be easier to search up what I wanted on the site and download the pdf pattern but I quite like that I always have the pattern already and don’t mind tracing it off too much. Especially when there’s not too many pieces involved.

Burda bell sleeve dress in magazine

Really not very much to report on construction: A couple of bust darts and a neckline facing with a bit of understitching being the only faffs. And then my usual alterations. A sway back adjustment for one. So I just located the waistline and effectively took a horizontal dart 5cms from the back seam tapering to nothing at the side seam. It’s amazing how much of a difference this makes.

burdastyle bell sleeve dress by ooobop

I used a stretch jersey as recommended but was confused by the need for a zip. So I tacked the back pieces together to check the fit before I went and sunk those tiny stretch stitches into the fabric.

It was a good bit of hindsight and proved that I didn’t need a zip at all so I hi-fived myself and stitched it down.

The only other adjustment I made was to nip it in at the waistline a bit by marking in an inch and tapering back out to the side seams. Not too much of an issue as I was going to overlock a small seam allowance afterwards.

The fabric is a very soft, substantial jersey knit with a bit of glitter action so I can still carry a bit of a party round with me even though the season is done and dusted.

burda bell sleeve dress full length

The funnel sleeves are what sold me. They add a bit of fun and create a great silhouette to what is otherwise a very simple V-neck dress. The flounce is added to the sleeve before sewing up the under arm seam and insetting.  And not for the first time, I am so impressed with the perfect amount of ease Burda gets right on the sleeve cap every single time. Not a pucker in sight!

Well this dress has definitely filled a gap in the wardrobe: It’s perfect for work, 80 deniers and boots; worked great with a pair of Doc Martens (and a warm coat) for a river walk today and I’m sure a pair of heels and some twinkly earrings will transform it from a day to night-out dress. All bases covered!

It really does feel so good to be back behind the machine. I was so busy with work leading up to Christmas that there was no time for sewing and I missed it so much. I’m hoping to cut into the next one on my list soon and keep up a bit of wardrobe re-stocking while I can.




 

Vogue Cocktail Hour dress V9241

V9241 cocktail dress

cocktail hour eve appeal

The first time I’d heard of the Eve Appeal was when I took part in last year’s Vintage Sewalong campaign. They are the ONLY UK  national charity that raises awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers so it wasn’t too much of an ask for me to join in the Cocktail Hour once again, and help McCalls promote a range of Vogue patterns that raise good money for such a great cause.

Last year I made Retro Butterick 5813 for the Big Vintage Sewalong 2016. This year I chose Vogue 9241, a fabulous design by Kathryn Brenne.

V9241_PATTERN_COVER

A little bit Helena Bonham Carter, A little bit Anne Robinson, perhaps… but totally full of character and no doubt a talking point at a cocktail party. Sadly the only cocktail party I’ve ever been invited to was the one at The Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally and I was typically too busy with work to attend. Though I prefer to think that I have been to loads and they were so good, I’ve clean forgotten all about them!

But if I do ever get another invite (nudge, nudge) I would be proud to wear this dress. It would rock a room of standard LBDs and not leave without comment.

I chose this design because of that awesome collar, of course, and because it reminded me of my birthday dress – the skirt section at least – and I considered using silk dupion, the same. But not only do I not like doing things twice, I find the suction of creativity too much to bear if I copy what’s on the packet. ie a red silk dress. I felt like black would have hidden too  much of the detail so I went a bit off piste and used a pinstripe suiting fabric instead, lol!

V9241_cocktail_dress_4

I wanted those pinstripes to emphasise the godets and that collar. Actual stripes would have been a bit too cray-cray (mmmm…. maybe next time though?!) I really wasn’t 100% sure it would turn out as special in what is effectively a boring cheap suiting fabric!

But it did. And I am so happy. Which is lucky really because I hadn’t left any time to change it up!
This dress really isn’t as complicated as it looks. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a doddle but really just more time-consuming than anything. It needs a fair bit of yardage too so watch out if you’ve got any big ideas on fancy pants fabric. It could end up costing an arm and both legs!
V9241_cocktail_dress_5
One thing which I must point out is that there is an error on the layout and pattern pieces. The instructions say to cut 2 of front which threw me a bit because there was no reference to use it anywhere. The layout plan indicated the same. I wondered if it could be a facing/lining of sorts but a quick Tweet message to McCalls confirmed it was an error and that they had contacted the US office to amend.
This pattern has a massive amount of ease. It’s so helpful to have body measurements and corresponding size table on the packet but better still to clock the ease on the pattern pieces themselves. Not all pattern companies do this so kudos to Vogue. With that info at hand, I realised I could afford to drop a whole dress size. I’d suspected I might have to do this because the pattern image itself looks a little bit roomy. I like things more snug, like a hug!
V9241_cocktail_dress_6
The collar is sewn front to facing, then the wire is sewn to the seam allowance of the outer curved edge before turning out. The wire is sewn in using a wide-ish zigzag stitch making sure to keep the needle either side of the wire. Requires a fair bit of concentration. Frightened the bloody life out of me when I took my eye off the ball and the needle clonked on the wire!
V9241_wired_collar
This is the second time in a month that I’ve had the need for animation wire, the first being for the wings of Amelia Fangs outfit. I ordered some more off Amazon. Affiliate link here:

I ordered all three weights as I really wasn’t sure what constituted ‘medium weight’. Initially I tried the lightest one but it was a bit flimsy so I opted for the 2mm diameter.
I’ve been having a lot of fun positioning the collar in all sorts of ways. But there would be more fun I’m sure if my fabric was sturdier or interfaced to give it a bit more structure. I could go totally could go totally Maleficent! This pinstripe stuff is very soft with quite a bit of drape which still works well, mind.
V9241_cocktail_dress collar
The skirt is all about the godets. How do you even say that? Godettes or godays? A little care is needed to insert the points accurately into the open seams of the bodice but if you’ve ever made quilt blocks with inset seams you will be walking it!
I noted the length was kinda granny for me. So I lobbed 4 inches off before I cut it out. And it reaches just shy of knee length now. But by nature of how the godets are tied up inside, I can just as easily lower the hem a couple of inches or so if I must be more demure!
I pretty much followed the instructions to the T but I could have done with taking some of the excess out of the back bodice length – that’s always an issue for me. But skirt seciton moves around and drapes so unusually, I don’t think it’s a biggie! And I hand stitched the bias facings of the armholes, rather than topstitch as instructed. Call me old fashioned!
V9241_cocktail_dress_3
So I am the last entry on the Vogue Patterns Bloggers Calendar 2017. I initially thought that was the best position to be in but the mash-up of anxiety and inspiration was building with each gorgeous post that popped up, every month.  In case you didn’t catch them all, click here to the amazing contributions from all the fabulous sewing bloggers. I just love how everyone has put an individual spin on their own cocktail dresses.
I do hope that some or one of these at least will inspire you to buy a pattern from the Cocktail Hour selection and rustle one up for yourself. Or maybe even buy one for a gift for a sewing friend. All helps towards the amazing work done by the Eve Appeal.
Thanks to The Foldline for including me in the line up, to Dan for the fabulous photos and also to Aska and Tom at the Thatched House in Hammersmith for allowing us to shoot them in their lovely pub.
 

An outfit for Amelia Fang

Laura Ellen Anderson with ooobop

Not for the first time, my day job and passion for dressmaking have come together and partied!

Like when I made an apron for Ellie Simmons to celebrate the launch of her book Ellie’s Magical Bakery, and when I made myself an outfit for Gemma Cairney’s launch party for Open the book. And it only bloody happened again!

Imagine my excitement when Laura Ellen Anderson asked me to make her an outfit for her book launch of Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball!

I’d seen the cover of the book already – designed by the super talented Tiffany Leeson at Egmont Children’s Books  – and was called in for a meeting with Laura to discuss the outfit. There wasn’t too much to discuss to be honest, because Laura’s adorable illustrations gave me all the information I needed. So I took a few measurements, scribbled a few plans and couldn’t wait to get started.

If you follow Laura on Twitter – @Lillustrator – you will know how busy she is, not just with her marathon illustration and writing sessions but also flying from workshops to events like nobody’s business! This lady needed some wings at the very least!

Amelia Fang takes the starring role of this ‘terrifying’ tale. She’s fun, fiesty and loyally flanked by her friends, Florence the yeti, Grimaldi the reaper and Squashy her adorable pet pumpkin. When spoilt-brat Prince Tangine captures Squashy they must escape the party to plan a daring rescue! In their race against time, they come to realise things in Nocturnia may not be quite what they seem . . .

It really is such a fun read. The characters are so endearing and I loved it! And so say loads of other readers… it was voted book of the month at Waterstones in October, too!

I started with the petticoat. I figured it was going to take the longest to make. But also the colour of that tangerine made me so happy! It has a poly satin lining and waistband and three double-tiered layers of netting. The joins are prettied with orange satin ribbon and hemlines are finished with orange satin bias binding. I created the waistband to include 4 channels of narrow elastic. I find this helps to move the gathers around if you want to position the volume more at the back or at the sides. I’m not a fan of too much poof at the front! It looks way better, too!

tangerine petticoat

Next was the skirt. I cut a full circle from some black duchesse satin as the overskirt and box pleated some black and white striped cotton for the underskirt. I just love it’s Tim Burtonesque edge. The best find was the orange foil-like fabric for the detail on the overskirt. Oh how it tied in perfectly with the orange foil detail on the cover!

To prevent the shiny bits from fraying, I faced the pointy tips and just pressed under the long sides before topstitching to the skirt. A duchesse waistband sealed in the top edges and an invisible zip at the back was the only notion needed.

Amelia Fang with Unicorn

And then the wings. I have my milliner friend, Jayne Hepsibah Sullivan of the Hepsibah Gallery to thank for the introduction to animation wire. And for a genius solution to making a posable framework that I could cover with bat-like faux leather. They attach as a neck piece that ties at the front with black satin ribbon. The wire has no memory so the wings can be positioned at will. Oh, and I couldn’t resist adding a few cockerel feathers left over from my significant birthday dress. Such fun!!

Amelia Fang wings

The launch party was just fabulous. Held at The Crypt of St Pancras Parish Church, London which was originally designed and used for coffin burials from 1822, when the Church was opened, to 1854, when the crypts of all London churches were closed to burials. It was the perfect choice of venue. And everyone looked amazing… Prince Tangine especially!

Prince Tagine

Laura Ellen Anderson with Sarah McIntyre

Gutted I didn’t get to say hello to Sarah McIntyre. She looked incredible!

But I did get to meet so many other lovely people at the launch. It was such a coven of creative talent – writers, illustrators, art directors, musicians and photographers… It inspires me so much to hear others talk so passionately about their work. And it was thrilling to get so many compliments on Laura’s outfit. I loved making it as much as I loved seeing her wear it. And I was just buzzing with pride.

Amelia Fang launch party

I have clean forgotten that I ever said I couldn’t imagine sewing for anyone else. I guess its a very different story when your customer is so cool and perfectly lovely and you get to make a one-off, bespoke, fun outfit for her. I take it all back…

“This is most definitely my favourite kinda ‘work’!”

Big massive thank yous to Tiffany for putting me forward, to Laura for such an awesome opportunity and to Laura’s mum for the fabulous photos.

And Squashy would like to remind you that he is not just for Halloween… Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball would make a perfect Christmas pressie for 7-9 year olds. And it’s on Amazon right here! (affiliate image link below) Along with the next book in the series, Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords:


Liberty dresses and a little self doubt

Bridesmaid dresses by ooobop
Photo by Arina Photography

When Yasmin told me she was going to get married my squeal was enough to summon the local hounds. When she asked me if I would make dresses for her bridesmaids, I squeaked a more fearful ‘yes’… Silk, tafetta, yards of it. Pale expensive fabrics poofed up all over my… kitchen table? Not to mention the pressure of producing something nothing less than perfect for such an important occasion for such a special couple! My head was racing with all the awful possibilities…’Of course, I’d be delighted and honoured,’ surfed my quivered reply on the outbreath.

I’d been dreading the day someone asked me to make a bridesmaid dress. Not quite as much as being asked to make a wedding dress. But still, nothing more than fear of not being able to come up with the nothing-more-than-perfect goods. Nothing more than I deal with every day as a designer tbh. Isn’t self-doubt a wonderful thing?!

Liberty bridesmaid dresses by ooobop
Photo by Arina Photography

Cut to a coffee date and handover of a bag load of the prettiest Liberty Tana Lawn, Betsy D fabric in turquoise. I should have known better. No prom-girl-meets-fancy-princess dresses on the guestlist here. Instead three classic pretty little girl dresses were the order of the day. Something the girls could run around and happily play in and wear again afterwards.

pompom trim detail
Photo by Jessica Tingley

I was so impressed with Yasmin’s vision, not to mention her wedding dress find at a vintage wedding fair. A gorgeous original 1940’s number with very little alteration needed. And the deco details she found on Ebay re the Jenny Packham hair accessory and the dress clips. Who knew about dress clips? Such a beautiful thing. Just. So. Yas!

So of course the bridesmaid dresses needed to be simple, floaty, proper little girl dresses with a polite nod to vintage. And before I got pen to paper, Yas had it in the bag and downloaded the patterns already: These pretty angel sleeve dresses from an indie seller on Etsy – Aesthetic Nest. Quite the perfect stage for Betsy D!

angel sleeve dress ooobop

The ages of the girls were 7, 8 and 10. Having had two girls of my own I felt the need to raise a possible issue about potential tantrums should there be any objection to such prettiness. The last thing you want on your big day is a scowling child, head sucked into shoulders, begrudgingly following you up the aisle, curled toes gouging tram tracks in the parquet en route.

So, on consultation, the 10 year old unsurprisingly wanted something a bit cooler! But that was fine because the the alternative was gorgeous too. A little halter dress from Simplicity 8064, with peter pan collar and bow.

I didn’t get to meet the girls, and it was logistically impossible for the older one given she lives in the US but by the power of technology and good old Royal Mail we managed a virtual overseas fitting which thankfully only threw up the need to take some excess out of the back.

 

simplicity 8064 dress ooobop
Photo by Arina Photography

The style of the Angel sleeve dresses meant no real fitting dramas at all, save the length. Incidentally this pattern comes up really long and would have swamped the little ones. I sent a toile by post and it was returned with a safety pinned hem of 5 or more inches!

So when all alterations were factored in, I made the dress version of the angel sleeve dress for one of the girls and the top and skirt version for the other. So happy that they chose a slight difference in style. We couldn’t help but be persuaded by the addition of some pink pom pom trim found in the Goldhawk Road.

angel sleeve blouse skirt ooobop

bridesmaid dress ooobop
Photo by Arina Photography

There was just enough to add to the ends of a blindfold for Piñata fun and games too!

pinata_blinfold ooobop

The halter dress commanded no such pompom fun but instead a carefully selected vintage button and some coral pink cotton trim to frame the Liberty print so  perfectly.

simplicity 8064 ooobop

But I’m assured there was no lack of fun to be had whilst wearing it!

simplicity 8064 dress made by ooobop
Photo by Jessica Tingley

Oh the pride when Yas sent me the photos. It’s so good to look back on something with fresh eyes. I so admire her determination not to have felt the need to comply with convention – the word in itself is so boring and automated – and instead, that every little personally sourced, perfectly chosen, and lovingly stitched item added all the more personality and meaning to her very special day.

I am so chuffed to have been asked to make these dresses and even moreso to have kicked self-doubt into touch!

bridesmaid dress by ooobop
Photo by Jessica Tingley

 

 

Almost naked in a McCall’s M7542 Lace top!

M7542 lace top

It won’t surprise you to know that this wasn’t an intended ‘next one on the list’. In fact, to be fair there is no ooobop project list that remains unedited for more than a minute. I even announced a break from self-sewing in my previous post. I am indeed an experienced saboteur of my own plans.

But in this instance I am totally blaming Sam, editor at Sew Now magazine for the delightful interruption of production. She kindly sent me a copy of issue 11, thinking the free pattern, McCall’s M7542 would be ‘very me’. She was very spot on. And I was instantly drawn to view B

The pattern itself is very simple, non-fitted – save a couple of side bust darts, and even though those view B sleeves look dramatically difficult, they are nothing less than a kind of dropped hem circle skirt that falls from the elbow instead of the waist!

So a quick scan of the instructions reaffirmed my plans for not toiling! I just picked the closest size to me and cut the tissue pieces straight out. I didn’t even trace them first. That felt a bit rebellious to be honest. I always trace things off. ‘Just in case’. You know. Or maybe you don’t!

M7542 handmade lace top

All the same, I wasn’t going to go all guns out on some fancy expensive fabric, mind… just in case. So a little trip to Dave the Drapers in Shepherds Bush Market, found me some cheap lace in case it didn’t quite go to plan. And yes that lace is cheap. £1.25m cheap! And. Plus. A gazzillion volts of static electricity told me so!

M7542 handmade lace top

But… hand cream saved the day! I kid you not, just rubbed some in my hands – which are always dry as some bones – and ran the fabric through newly moisturised hands. Just to see. And guess what? Not one single, tiny crackle!

M7542 lace top detail

Now as you can see, the fabric has a fair bit of show-through so my main concern was keeping those seams neat – not so much that my bra would show. Priorities, right?! French-seaming was the way forward and with narrow zigzag stitch to account for a bit of stretch in the lace. I had to concentrate and take time over this as the prospect of unpicking was terrifying and probably impossible tbh. All the little stitches properly embedded and camou’d in the lace. But worth the effort. I just love how the joins are visible.

M7542 lace top and short skirt

The only thing I changed up was substituting the neck facing for a satin bias edging. The binding also edges the opening at the back and I sewed a single large popper at the back for the closure. I had originally considered a rouleau button loop but that seemed like a lot of effort for such little exposure – I wear my hair down most of the time so it’s covered up anyway.

The lace trim just finishes it off nicely. I had no fraying issues, but I didn’t like the harsh edge once cut. The mad thing was that the trim cost nearly twice as much as the fabric, ha!

M7542 lace top

When I first showed Dan this top, on the hanger, his response was Cool! Very Stevie Nicks! But when I put it on, he said Mmmm… too much skin! I agreed and bought a black cami top the next day to up the modesty factor. But then there was a disappointingly lack of detail. So back to the bra and off to Horseguards parade at 6am on Friday morning to shoot it.

M7542 lace top side view

I wore a jacket for the tube journey but still felt, full pelt, the commuter looks of: someone didn’t go home last night! 60 derniers and my handmade quilted skirt ensured decent coverage to my lower half at least.

The walk from Westminster station to St. James’ Park and Horseguards Parade at that time of the morning was just lovely. The morning light was so glorious and the buildings were lit beautifully all around us. So worth getting up at the crack of sparrows!

M7542 lace top and sunglasses

It’s quite incredible that the on same spot where I was being photographed, jousting was once a thing for Henry VIIIs entertainment! There was a fancy guard at the entrance of the arch – one of the Queen’s Lifeguards – but we spared him of early morning hassle, sure that he would need a little break before onslaught of tourist attention.

There were hardly any people around, save the guard, a few (heavily armed) policemen and a few boldly striding city workers. So thankfully no gawpers as I stood, near-naked in the morning light. We took some more alongside the pillared Mall Galleries and a wolf-whistling cyclist signalled it was time to put the jacket back on!

M7542 lace top in Mall

I’ll happily wear it like this to dimly lit gigs and parties but I will have to rethink an undergarment for any day time wear. Maybe it’s a red cami or a boob tube or suchlike. Suggestions very welcome!

I’ve also just managed to enter this in time for #Sleevefest2017, hosted on Instagram by Valentine and Stitch and dream.cut.sew .The challenge runs from now until August 31st 2017 so you’ve still got time to submit your creative sleeve designs. And here’s a link (affiliate) in case you get the same calling for McCalls Ladies Easy Sewing Pattern 7542 Tops with Sleeve Variations.

Happy sewing, everyone! x

M7542 lace top back view

 

 

Shiny Burda Maxi

Shiny Burda Maxi dress

Introducing my most shiny dress to date!

I’m all up for revisiting patterns of late. Especially ones that just work and need little or no revisions. This was one of those.

It’s a hankerchief hem maxi dress from March 2015 edition of Burda Style magazine – one of my absolute faves. I first made it almost two years ago, and blogged it here! Clearly a dress befitting of the London summer climes!

silver burda maxi dress overexposed

I knew I was going to make another. It’s such an easy one to put together. And when I stumbled across a similar ruffle fabric but in silver, it was pinned and cut in a jiffy. A lovely sewing afternoon at Tilly and the Buttons studio got it all sewed up but it was proper sweaty work with all those metres of metal fabric draped over my knees, so I saved the hand-finishing till… this morning!

metal burda maxi dress over exposed

By hand-sewing, I mean the armholes and neckline which I finished with bias binding. I couldn’t be arsed with a flappy facings!

The fabric has a little stretch and has no need for finishing of hems or edges. Which is lucky, because there’s lots of them going on with the hanky-hem! Feels a little like cheating but when I see it photographed I’m assured it matters not.

It is also strangely transparent when you hold it to the light. But thankfully the metalic silver finish reflects with such distraction that you can’t see my pants!

wearing burda silver dress laughing

The original Burda pattern includes sleeves. But I much prefer it sleeveless. It seems to work better with the v-neckline and creates a bit more elegance.

Dan took these wonderful shots, of course. Assisted by a dose of delightful sunshine at the ‘New Way In’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I get so excited by new space. Much like my printed design work, I’ve learned over the years, that space doesn’t always have to be filled with stuff! People were gathering and marvelling… at the space! All helped of course by the awesome stone work, some cleverly conflicting angles and some lovely reflecting glass and metals. I felt quite at home in my new dress and didn’t mind the attention it got, for once!

Silver Burda maxi dress

At one point, another photographer not only asked to take my photo but asked who the designer of my dress was. Oh the flattery. But oh the awkward pose for her!

Silver burda dress being shot

The satisfaction of finding an edgy fabric and pairing it with a quirky pattern definitely floats my boat and it’s something I should definitely dedicate more time to. It gives me such a little buzz of butterflies when it works.

And of course Burda mags are a fantastic resource for inspiration. All those issues I dissed for abject weirdity will definitely be revisited in a new light!

Fun in a Burda Maxi dress

That said, I have some lovely commissions for other people that will have to take precedence over any new dresses for moi over the next coming weeks. I’m not complaining at all. They are really exciting projects so keep tuned!

Silver Burda dress at the V&A

Silver Burda Maxi dress front view

And where will I wear this dress – apart from to wander around the creative white spaces of London? I’m thinking festivals, parties, gigs and galleries. Maybe the office doesn’t get graced this time round!

Metal burda dress sitting on a wall

silver burda dress at the Victoria and Albert Museum

 

Skulls and roses dress

Ooobop Skulls and Roses dress

This dress is round three of my strive to perfect a self-drafted bodice pattern. It follows on from a self-drafted retro top, blogged in 2014 and my recent wax cotton print dress.

There’s something wholly satisfying about returning so soon to a pattern that you know will work. And I’m sure it will be even better to come back to following a few more tweaks.

The neckline on the wax cotton dress gaped just a little so I fixed that and refined the curve of the neckline too. There was also some gaping at the back bodice armholes, so I took out some excess and transferred it to the back waist darts.

Ooobop Skulls and Roses dress

The fit is much better but V3 dress – already underway – will have a little more fine tuning and then all I need to do is stay the same shape… forever! 😀

The skirt on this one is a simple gathered dirndl. Easy to make, easy to wear, easy to dance in. And also a little less of a Marilyn fashion risk than a circle skirt on a blustery day.

The invisible zip is set on the left side of the bodice as before, but this time I remembered to keep the back piece as one, so the pattern isn’t split. And plus, I’m rather digging the burrito method of self-lining. Have you tried this yet?

I’m chuffed that this was another piece of fabric that emerged from from the bottom of stash mountain. I’m sure Dan had his eye on this for a shirt at some point but I think he forgot. And I shamelessly neglected to remind him! The colour scheme is my favourite kind and I love a little nod to rockabilly.

This dress has been worn and snapped to death already with no time to blog until now. It’s been my go-to for all number of events – clubs, festivals, gigs and even the office. I’ve got to put it to the back of the wardrobe for a bit now, though, because I’m sure I’ve clocked the look that says: “Someone didn’t make it home last night!” 😮 I did. Obvs!

Daniel took these photos for me, on our date night last night. Multitasking. Always! I’m standing in front of St Paul’s church in Hammersmith. Such a beautiful grade II listed building among all the modern architecture and the hustle and bustle over and under the flyover at the broadway. It’s been a place of worship since the 1600s! So much history on a little patch of green.

Ooobop Skulls and Roses Dress

Light was fading and our tummies were rumbling as we snapped these in a hurry en route to The Gate – one of my favourite veggie restaurants. Dan agreed that there was no lack of meat on the plate. My only regret was that I didn’t have enough room for desert. They looked so awesome! Perhaps my next dress version ought to be of expandable material!

Ooobop Skulls and Roses dress