Vintage wrap-blouse

vintage wrap blouse

In the olden days I used to worry that I wouldn’t have enough to blog about but now it seems I’m capable of even forgetting that I’ve made stuff to blog about!

This lovely pattern was generously gifted to me by Anne of Mercury Handmade. Not only did she post me a much-wanted, missing copy of Burda Style magazine back in August but she also enclosed two surprise gorgeous vintage patterns. This being one of them. If you’ve not caught up with Anne yet, I seriously advise you to pop over to her blog for all the inspiring and perfectly made clothes she makes for herself and her two lucky daughters

Bestway D.3,109 blouse pattern

The pattern is Bestway D.3,109. One of those mail order sorts, by the looks of it. And I’m thinking early 1950s.

I love the flattering neckline and the extended sleeves. The back is just one piece which incorporates the sleeves and there are interesting yoke pieces which incorporate them on the front. The ‘collar’ lays flat, sitting on the collar bone to create that lovely opening. And its beautifully shaped to nip in at the waist.

It’s held closed with just two vintage buttons. The third is for decorational purposes but at some point I would add an internal button or snap to keep the under-wrap in position. For the time being I generally tuck it into my pants!

lighthouse blouse buttons

I used a nice crisp cotton from the goldhawk road. It’s printed with lighthouses which seemed a perfect choice for this blouse.

vintage lighthouse blouse

I love wearing vintage style blouses. There’s always something a little bit quirky about them. And they are so easily paired up with a circle or pencil skirt. I’m slowly getting away from the easy-to-wear jersey tops that I used to wear all the time. Just need to make a couple more so I can ditch the rest of my tatty go-tos!

vintage lighthouse blouseAnd in case any of you are wondering. I wouldn’t ordinarily be out in December without a coat. It is winter as I post this and it is very, very nippy out! We just ran across the road while the sun was out to take these shots and ran back in before the goosebumps set in!!

I’m now about to add about 10 more layers and head out into the wild and crazy world of Christmas shoppers! I’ve not even scratched the surface yet. Please don’t tell me you’ve all done yours!

 

 

Handmade Secret Santa pressies

gold bag on the railingsWhen I saw this bag in December’s Burda Style magazine, I just knew it was the one I’d been storing in my head for over a year! I’d seen a very similar 1940s Vogue pattern floating around on the web, time and again but never for sale, at least not with a reasonable sale ticket!

vogue bag hat pattern v9837
Source: http://vintagepatterns.wikia.com/wiki/Vogue_9837

I’d almost resigned to self-draft my own but couldn’t quite get my head around the order of sewing. Didn’t really try hard enough tbh! But Burda saved the day yet again with another simple well-drafted design.

burda pouch bag
Source: Burda Style magazine December 2014

And so when I found out I was to make a Secret Santa pressie for the adorable vintage-wearing Emmie Ink Fairy, it was a given!

The instructions suggested leather, which I did originally go looking for. And believe it or not there is such a great colour choice as well in the Goldhawk Rd! But even after a good rummage, I couldn’t find a gold piece big enough to fit the pieces. I thought two pieces of gold lamb was a bit excessive and then gave up on leather altogether when I couldn’t remember if Emmie was a veggie/vegan. That might have gone down like a lead flipper!

As always it was A1 Fabrics that presented me with a better fabric solution: some lovely soft, gold ‘pleather’. Perfect!
It was an education to work with. A leather needle made light work but boy did we have a fight to press the stuff! Didn’t really think that through properly.

Gold pouch bag

Pleather is plastic, fundamentally, and will melt if it comes into direct contact with a hot iron. I’m not that daft. I did use some parchment paper as a pressing cloth. But it just boinged back the minute I stopped pressing. The heat was being retained and making it too pliable. So I grabbed the nearest ‘clapper’ I could find, in the shape of a heavy book, to slap down on the fabric once I lifted the iron off. It did the job in cooling down the fabric quicker and so holding the press a bit better. Not nearly as well as a woven fabric would have pressed but better than a poke in the eye for sure!

gold pouch bag

Burda’s instructions stopped at a facing but I wanted neater than that, so I made a lining to attach to the bottom of the facing, and of course included an ooobop label! Not such a secret now but I liked it as a finishing touch!

inside gold pouch bag

I stupidly didn’t get a picture of Emmie with it adorning her wrist but it didn’t look out of place with her beautiful pink sparkly dress.

We were at a lovely Christmassy do hosted by the BHL girls. So honoured to be part of the evening with so many wonderfully familiar faces.

We dined and beered at a local-to-me Polish restaurant called Patio. I seriously don’t know how those girls catered so brilliantly for over 30 of us with so many different menu choices. They were amazing.

And look what some gorgeous and not-so-secret Santa made for me!

quilted cup and saucer

I seriously couldn’t believe that someone could have made this quilted cup and saucer but when I realised it was the uber talented Rachel Pinheiro, it all made blinding sense!!

What’s not to love about the colours, the french men in their Breton tops, the moustaches and the candy stripes? Perfect to keep all my sewing notions from rolling around the table while I’m sewing and also for sticking pins and needles in as I go.

Earlier in the day I had been to a work Christmas lunch. Yes I know, 2 Christmas do’s in one day. And I was still standing! One of my secret-santa friends bought me this gorgeous sewing pattern. She is so bloody clever and so thoughtful! I can totally see myself in this dress already!

Vogue V2410 vintage dress pattern

I consider myself truly spoilt. Not just with do’s and gifts but with the plethora of amazing friends that bring me so much joy and make me laugh so much. That’s got to be the best part of any time of the year.

Have you made any gifts this year or is it all just too much?

 

UK v Germany: A Burda-off! PLUS a tiny feature

Burda UK v Germany covers

I’ve been an avid collector of Burda Style Magazines for three years or more. It’s my monthly inspirational treat and over the years the collection has become my now go-to library for instant pattern pieces and reference. I just love a sit down with a cuppa and a mag and a pile of Burdas at my feet. A perfect way to unwind, recharge and replace my head-soup with a wishlist of sewing plans.

Before ooobop ever was an idea, I used to drool over the projects on Burdastyle.com, wishing I hadn’t given up sewing; jealous of all the lovely contributors and the time they’d dedicated to create such amazing garments. (At the same time, wondering how the heck they found time to maintain such a hobby around work and ‘smalls’.) Then one day I could stand it no longer. I bit the bullet, signed up and submitted my first project in July 2010. I was so proud of that little jump dress. Even moreso that I made the pattern myself. It still hangs in my daughter’s wardrobe. I’d like to believe she is proud of it too and that it’s not just a case of pre-empting a breakdown if mummy sees it in the bin!

The realisation that I could make clothes that created joy for me and my daughter at an outlay of 75p was encouragement enough to carry on. I have to be honest and declare that the outlay has increased somewhat over the years but then so has my confidence and ability. And it is really so wonderful taking some time out today to look back at where I started and how things have moved on. And how I did find time.

There have been a few proud moments along the way where individual projects have been featured on the site but recently I got an Email from an editor of the German printed Burdastyle magazine who asked if she could feature this skirt and my shorts in the November issue. I have to be honest, I thought it was a spam Email at first so I didn’t reply straight away. But then I checked out the links and a little chuffed warm-glow filled my boots! Of course, I would be most incredibly delighted and honoured! Transpires they couldn’t feature the skirt because I’d self-drafted it but I submitted a photo of the shorts and here it is on the printed page!

Burda Germany shortsWhen the magazine arrived in the post I was more distracted by the quality of the magazine and quite forgot that I was in it! The German version is so much more glamorous. It is ‘perfect-bound’ as opposed to ‘saddle-stitched’. Those are the proper publishing terms but in lay-person terms that means that the German one feels more posh as it has feels more substantial and has a spine like all the high end glossy fashion mags. More substantial because there are more pages and because the pattern section is separately bound inside with it’s own cover. Saddle-stitched meaning stapled!

pattern section

This pattern section is perforated so that presumably, you can remove and keep it separately. There are images on the inside front and back cover of that section so you would have reference of the finished garments but personally I like the full page fashion shots to fire me up and therefore I would have a need to keep the two together.

Overall, the content is the same. The fashion shots identical. Though I bet the instructions are clearer in the Mütter tongue! Some of those translated terms in the UK edition have me head-scratching and reading ten times over before I’ve got whats going on. But there are additional features on accessories and a few full page glossy ads which ironically enough give it more of an upmarket feel. That’s not a hint by the way, Burda! You’ll not sell me anything via an ad in a mag!

I’m pre-empting some comments regarding my absence from Burda reviews of late, so I’ll apologise up front. I’m considering a return but need to find a quicker way. It takes so much time. That time I’ve since allocated to actual sewing but I have selfishly realised how much I rely on my own reviews when it comes to planning my next makes – far quicker and easier to track back a blog post on the hop than to wait for an opportune ‘sit-down with a mag moment’! So don’t hold your breath. I’m planning a return.

However, I shall leave you with some of November’s shots in case you didn’t get hold of a copy. See. I just can’t resist!!

Burda November 2014 Black and White

Burda November 2014 Black and White

Burda November 2014 High Society

Viva La Diva Burda Nov 2014

Viva La Diva Burda Nov 2014

Key Note Burda Nov 2014

Key Note Burda November 2014

Burda Baby Clothes Nov 2014

Homewear burda November 2014

Plus Homewear Burda November 2014

Happy Bonfire Night, peeps. I’m off to watch the fire in the sky… in the rain! Keep safe.

Love ooobop x

Bombshells and Seashells

bombshell swimsuit

Try as I may I can never skip the post-holiday blues. But hey, the sky in London town today is so blue and cloudless and sunny so at least we can be gently and pleasantly eased bashell 3ck in to our daily duties. seashell

But before I stick my head into that stinky case to launder the smalls, I’d like to present a long overdue blog post. About my bombshell swimsuit. With me in it!

bombshell swimsuit in the pool

I wasn’t sure whether I’d be brave enough to do this and my nerve was duly questioned by work colleagues and family alike, but I have to say, it’s a lot easier when you’re posing on a lovely Spanish beach and not at your local city pool! And made easier still when the cozzie is so modest and flattering. If you Google Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit I hope you will agree that it is such a wickedly clever design that looks great on everyone, any size, any age. So thank you Heather Lou for your great pattern and for eliminating the usual cringe-factor from my holiday snaps!

bombshell halter swimsuit

As near as I live to, and search as I may, I could not find the right cozzie fabric in the Goldhawk Road. One or two shops tried to sell me some spandex but there wasn’t much colour choice and none of the necessary extras I needed, like swimsuit elastic and swimsuit lining. So I braved the rave of the Fabricland website. Go there if you dare (for a fab selection of lycra and spandex), but beware flashing lights and neon starbursts upon every scroll… you have been warned! That said, the service was spot on. I ordered by phone one afternoon, from a lovely, helpful lady and it was delivered the next day.

bombshell swimsuit front and back

I was busy as some bees leading up to the holiday so I had to make this cozzie in small bite-sized shifts. And I’d be lying if I said I found it a breeze. Stress head and senility probably plorange shellayed a part in the confusion but I did find it difficult following instructions for one version whilst looking at pictures for the other.

The rouching was a bit fiddly and tbh I didn’t really know what I was doing until it all came together, if you know what I mean! It’s not my greatest work. There are flaws, namely in the consistency of the zigzagging. Incidentally, unlike some other lucky sewists who breezed through with an overlocker, my vintage overlocker is of the three-thread kind that just neatens edges and doesn’t sew the seam, so I chose to use the zig zag stitch on my machine instead. This works absolutely fine but leaves the insides looking a bit rageddy. Or maybe I’m just not used to working with stretchy swimsuit garments. Gimme French seams and flat fells anytime!

shellI sewed cups into the halters. I did that just by encasing them and then with some tiny hand stitches to secure them in place. I just knew the icy waters would leave an unwelcome impression on the photos, otherwise!

bombshell swimsuit splash

I couldn’t say how long exactly this took me to make, because I did it over three or four days or more but I would guess about 5 hours. Longer than I’d anticipated. But worth it. I bought some black swimsuit fabric to make another but just didn’t get enough time to make the two. The red and white polka dot seemed more apt for a Spanish holiday in any case.  shell 3seashell

I will make another and I will make a few changes. Namely: making the elastic a bit tighter round the leg holes and adding a little bit of length to the body. I will also take more care with the topstitching, especially round the front, where it notices. And I will probably overlock the stitching after I’ve sewn the pieces together.

Dan was of course the fantastic photographer but my son took these next two which are priceless. Oh the glamour. Oh how he laughed!

bombshell swimsuit photo by Alfie

We were staying in the pretty town of Denia, just south of Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. The locals were lovely and very patient with our pigeon Spanish! It was very very peaceful. Out of season, I guess. And I really didn’t expect the weather to be so fab. 24-28 degrees mostly. It’s amazing how much better I feel for some sun on my skin… and a week of no work. Dan got up at silly o’clock most mornings to climb Mount Montogó so that he could get some pics of the sun rising over the sea. He wasn’t disappointed. For anyone who’s interested, I’ll be sure to point you to them once he has selected his favourites.

OK. I think my time is up. Thanks for visiting. Cozzie’s off. Apron’s on. Hasta la próxima, mis amigos!

Sabrina, checked and tested!

Remember Sabrina Duncan? She was my favourite Charlie’s Angel. She was the leader, the rebellious one. Not the one who spent any amount of time on her flicks. Nor ever to be heard complaining about a broken fingernail and her martial arts skills were unrivalled and unhampered by flares. So cool.

What’s that got to do with the price of fish you may well ask… Well this is my Sabrina dress. This is By Hand London’s latest lady and my new go to dress. Not named in honour of my Sabrina as far as I know but in a roundabout way she led the slightly unorthodox approach to this dress.

Sabrina dress in kensington

When I was asked if I’d like to pattern-test this one it was a no-brainer. Not only was the dress named after one of my childhood heroines, it had princess seams that presented a perfect project to utilise some of that inspiration that I sucked from the JPG exhibition. A clash of the Tartans!

Not anywhere near as edgy as JPG himself but I love it all the same.
A great chance to kick start the Autumn wardrobe too.

Minerva kindly supplied the fabric and I knew exactly where I was heading to search for the cloth in question. I’d been trawling recently and had seen these two tartans together. Blackwatch and Royal Stewart – such a great contrast that had to work.

Incidentally this is a poly viscose blend. Apparent from the prewash that future laundering of this dress would be a breeze; Hardly creases; A joy to iron. In fact if hung up to dry properly you could almost get away with not ironing at all.

bhl sabrina dress kensington station

I have a few nitpicky personal fitting issues to sort, namely a sway back adjustment and since studying the photos, I think there is some excess in the upper bust. Even though I made a muslin – I was never going to cut right into that fabulous fabric without testing the waters first!– I didn’t pay proper attention to a perfect fit. Plus its quite tricky when you are up late on your own and don’t have eyes in the back of your head. So with that aside, I made this dress straight from the packet. from one size, no adjustments.

It does fray, this fabric, especially when over handled. But given how the seams are pressed sideways, trimmed and overlocked seams were defo the way forward.

You may well ask why I would want to take on the added pressure of pattern-testing. After all, its not like I’ve got any spare time on my hands. Kids and all the outside school activities that get involved in, full time plus overtime self employedness, and contrary to the belief of my kids I don’t employ fairies to cook clean and bottle-wash and of course my night time activities are sewing! It’s not like it’s paid and its not like I’m given any lead time. And so I have even asked myself the same question. But in writing up this post the ‘why” suddenly presented itself to me in a duh sort of way.

sabrina dress stained glass

I have a list longer than both arms of projects I want to sew. Dresses, jackets, suits and hats. Mostly all of them are inspired by a ready-made pattern that have a ready-made image on the front or in the mag. It’s quite difficult to think outside the box when you are presented with something that fundamentally works already. But when you are given a computer generated line drawing or better still a rough fashion sketch of a dress that isn’t even invented yet, that’s more than enough to shake up all those creative juices and set my brain on fire with ideas, mostly above my station I might add. Leather, feathers, fur, gold lame. It doesn’t matter that most of these aren’t realised. They will be in time. It matters that I’m focussing on the textile rather than the design. That bit has already been done for me in this case by the By Hand London Ladies. So I can concentrate on what fabric will work best which will have greater structure, beautiful drape or sharp enough edges to carry it off properly. It excites me. That is all.

bhl sabrina dress phonebox

I don’t think I pushed the boat out too far with this dress but its a start on my journey of discovery. When I presented my Photoshopped image to Vicki at Minerva she was really excited to see the end result and said she’d never seen those two fabrics put together before.

I’d like to try some leather in place of the Blackwatch in the future but even a pvc might be as good. I think Ms Duncan is calling for some added tomboy!

The dress itself is such a flattering and simple shape. Nicely fitted to the waist and charmingly flared to just above the knee. Its also a great base for incorporating a collar, changing a neckline adding some bodice detail.

sabrina dress tube stn

It sews up real quick. Just be careful around the bust shape and watch out for puckers. That happened on my muslin.

It’s unlined. Just has a bodice facing which is all you need really for a medium weight woven. Doesn’t stick to my tights either!

The hem should be kept small to avoid gathering the excess in the flare and I would say that was the trickiest bit.

I kid you not its had more wears than any dress in my wardrobe and it’s the newest!

The above shots were taken in and around South Kensington and at the Victoria and Albert museum. That’s my favourite London hangout too by the way!

sabrina dress, victoria and albert museum

We were child- and fancy-free and popped in to see the Horst exhibition. Perfect inspiration for some glamourous dresses and stunningly lit fashion photography. Just Google Horst photographs for an eyeful of awesomness!

sabrina dress at the victoria and albert museum

Photography Daniel James Photographic
Shoes Lola Ramona
Handbag: FARA Ealing

Hog blop by a sleepy Ooobop!

It’s Friday. Well just about. I can’t quite believe how I got here or how my eyes have any juice left. The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a blur. Only myself to blame though. Bit off far more than I could chew, didn’t I, and ended up working a few 14-hour days. But it’s all done and it’s all good apart from I now don’t have the energy to to invest in sewing this evening.

Sleep is the order of the day. I know that. But I am strangely relishing the need to string some words together. And I did promise Karen from Fifty Dresses and Nicole from Nicole Needles that I would accept the baton and rise to the challenge of the Blog Hop.

If anyone knows who blew the starting whistle on this one, please let me know. Always good to give credit where it’s due.

And so I believe that the challenge is to answer four little questions about me and then nominate a further three bloggers to do the same. So here goes.

Q1. What are you currently working on?

I happen to have two works in progress right now, which is odd for me because I do usually finish something before I start another. Honest, guv’!

The first, being a Bombshell Swimsuit from Closet Case Patterns. I’ve rouched the back and backed it with lining. I know it’s a bit off season but lucky for me I have some winter sun booked in and I WILL have a new cozzie ready.

bombshell swimsuit in progress

Even if the chances of me looking like Mini Mouse’s granny are totally on the cards! I’m struggling a bit with the instructions for the next stage and rather than get in a tiz with it all I started something else instead…

The second, of which is a Mimi blouse from Tilly’s Love at First Stitch book which is coming together nicely in a drapey viscosey type fabric. I totally need more blouses and if mine comes out half as nice as Scruffy Badger’s then I’ll be making more of these!

Mimi blouse in progress

Q2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?

D’you know what? I don’t think it does, particularly. As far as I can see the genre is ‘sewing’ and I make lots of different things like lots of other different sewing bloggers. I don’t stick to a particular theme. Though I love working with an old vintage pattern, I get as much pleasure out of a modern indie pattern too. I don’t partake in too many sew-alongs or challenges. Mostly from fear of not delivering on time but also I suppose because I like having something different to report. Kind of contradicting myself by totally blog hopping onto this bandwagon but you get the picture.

Q3. Why do you write/create what you do?

I started sewing before blogging as a release from my computer-based design work. I love fashion and I’ve never dressed high-street per se… never had the funds to keep up in any case… so sewing my own clothes seemed a good way forward. I joined the Burda network for inspiration and that in turn inspired me to host my own blog. I believed this to be a good way to give myself a kick up the butt to keep sewing. If I don’t make anything I’ve generally got nothing to report and so the partnership of sewing and blogging has worked a treat over the last few years. I’d say there’s a bigger picture now in that the friends I have made along the way are the biggest and loveliest surprise ever. I really never expected that.

Q4. How does your writing/creative process work?

In a nutshell, I sew something. I write about it. And I hope thereafter that I’m not boring the pants off anyone!

My day job involves a lot of computerised visual stuff – designing, creating, retouching and tweaking graphics, photos and illos. I also get to read a lot of text but its skip-reading. Not for pleasure. Even if some of those manuscripts do have me in tears! So the opportunity to spill some of my own words on a page comes as pure therapy. I really enjoy it. My English teacher rejoiced in telling my mum that I had an awful case verbal-diarrhoea! And I am ridiculously (not so secretly) hopeful that one day I will have collected enough words and have realised a great idea for a book… and write it. There’s one in everyone, right?!

And now I must make a massive hop off  to far flung places in order to pass on this Blog Hop batton. My chosen three should they wish to partake in such blog hopping activities are:

1. Symon Sez

Fellow graphic designer who totally sings from the same songsheet as me. I love her honest approach and how she details her lovely makes.

2. Mokosha

Orignal and edgy. I found Mokosha on Burda and have loved watching her site mature. The snappy posts are perfect for blog gobbling on the hop and her photos are a joy.

3. The Renegade Seamstress

An endless supply of inspired refashions. I seriously don’t know how they keep coming. This lady is so clever and it comes as no surprise that she has recently been published.

Ladies, there is absolutely no obligation whatsoever. But if you choose to take on this challenge you must answer the same 4 questions and nominate a further 3 bloggers.

Wishing you all a wonderful and restful weekend, sweet dreams from Ooobop xxx

Burda Brigitte Blouse

First I must apologise for those who have had issues trying to comment on my blog over the last week or so. I won’t bore you with the tecchie issues but suffice to say all is now good at Ooobop HQ! (touch wood!) Thanks for bearing with.

It feels so good to be able to write a post. I knew how much this blog meant to me but didn’t realise quite how much. I found out quick enough when I thought I’d lost nearly 2.5 years of work! I’ve been such a bloomin’ grumpy pants all week, Mr O will tell you for nothing!

I feel like I should be making a bit more of a dramatic re-entrance, but I’m afraid we’ll just have to make do with a humble gingham peasant blouse.

burda gingham boatneck blouse

It’s a very nice gingham peasant blouse though. Care of Burda’s June 2011 edition Mag. It’s also available for download here where it’s featured in a sheer fabric.

I’ve made three sleeveless ones before but this one has long sleeves and no elastic. And it presented a fine oopportunity to create some bias gingham binding around the neckline and cuffs which is always lovely!

burda gingham peasant blouseThe fabric was sold to me as Egyptian cotton, which I had no reason to dispute. It is smooth and cool to the touch and feels like fine quality. But the pyromaniac in me is compelled to do a burn test, always. And the little black crumbly ash that resulted, confirmed the fibres as a poly blend, doh! Win some lose some. Should’ve sniffed a rat at £5.99 really!

But not a worry as it still feels nice against my skin and it’s not snug on the pits so remains a good choice for a warm summer’s day or an office with failed air-con.

The instructions suggested a gathered hem into another bias band but I was nervous about too much poof around my middle and given that I almost always tuck in my tops I just did a standard hem. But, note to self, I didn’t increase the length enough to compensate, and with one wave across the street, it comes untucked, whether I’ve tucked it in my pants or not!

burda gingham peasant blouse

It’s very quick to make if you can even up your gathers quickly. I faffed a bit too much with my gathers as usual, but it still got completed in an evening.

I love the raglan sleeves and the boatneck. So easy to wear. Great with a pencil and equally a circle skirt. And the plan is to make some capri pants one day, just like Burda’s styling, to come somewhere close to that retro Brigitte look.

burda gingham peasant blouse

Peasant blouse: Burda pattern, handmade by ooobop
Skirt: self-drafted & handmade by ooobop
Belt: H&M
Shoes: Rocket Originals
Photography: © Daniel James Photographic

 

1939 Vintage Simplicity Dress

vintage 1939 dress

It’s been a while since I sewed a proper vintage dress and when I spied 5 gorgeous yards of pretty blue and white print fabric in a charity shop for a fiver, it was a sure sign to unwrap one of my favourite patterns. I bought the fabric thinking that if I screwed up, a fiver was worth the risk. But actually I loved the fabric so much I used some other polycotton, from stash mountain, to rehearse a toile for the bodice first.

Very few alterations were needed. I did a slight FBA to add a bit of shape and added an extra inch to the waistline. I think it fair to say that I manage to pack away a few more calories than those svelte 30s women!

simplicity 3302 pattern pieces

The pattern is a vintage original from 1939: Simplicity 3302. And the condition of the pieces was impeccable. Factory folded and clean. Such an honour to be working with such precious pieces that are 75 years old!

The most surprising thing about this dress is that it takes 5 yards of fabric. At 35 inches wide that is. But it really doesn’t look that extravagant. I’m used to 50s style dresses taking up miles of fabric but the skirt section of this one isn’t even a full circle!

vintage dress simplicity 3302

I kept to the instructions, like the good GTS I am, and I created a neck facing instead of lining. I also decided against overlocking the seams. It somehow seemed wrong! The fabric behaved beautifully and frayed very little so I opted for a spot of pinking! Feels far more authentic and it pressed beautifully flat.

I’m not totally sure what the fabric content is. But on doing a burn test, I was left with a very silky white dust. So the consensus is that it is 100% natural fibre and top notch quality I reckon! It has quite a good drape going on and doesn’t crease too much either which makes me wonder if it is cotton or not. I made a decision not to line it. Mostly because of the gorgeously warm weather we’ve been experiencing but also because it always seems a bit mad to line a natural fabric with a synthetic lining. And I wasn’t about to splash out on silk!

sitting pretty in vintage dress

Having said that. I did use a silk organza for the sleeve stiffeners. You didn’t think those puffs stick out like that, unaided did you?! Quite a clever little trick that involves a circular piece of fabric like tafetta or flannel or organza, folded in half and sewn to the sleeve head before the gathering is done.

silk organza sleeve stiffener

vintage_1939_dress_sleeve_headIt looks a bit comical until you press the seam onto the sleeve and not onto the bodice which I did at first. Didn’t get a shot of that but the look on Dan’s face was priceless!

There is also an inverted pleat that is topstitched at the hem of the sleeve. So neat.

pleat on sleeve

I’d like to say it all went swimmingly but I made quite a big boo boo when I inadvertently cut the back as two pieces and not on the fold. Very easily done when patterns of that era are unprinted, but, regardless, I needed a quick solution as it would have come up too small once I’d seamed it and also, I didn’t have a large enough leftover piece to cut another back piece. Quite a big issue when you get your hands on a unique piece of fabric from a charity shop. It’s not like you can go back and bag another metre!

So… This is a bit bodgie… I made an inch wide length of bias tape from a 2 inch strip that I’d rescued from the selvedge, using my trusty Simplicity Bias Tape Maker Machine. And with half inch seam allowance I sewed it on each centre seam of the back. That effectively joined the back pieces together where they would have sat had there had been a fold!

Luckily the seams are disguised by the busy print so I think I got away with it!

back of vintage 1939 dress

I know my hair do isn’t strictly 1930s and the shoes are far from authentic but it needed a little bit of vintage styling to pull it off. Especially as youngest dort decided it was ‘lovely but very 80s!!’

vintage simplicity 3302 dress

I love the sweetheart neckline. So discreet and so pretty. It doesn’t have any added interfacing so I’m surprised it holds so well. I did clip into those curves good and proper though!

vintage sweetheart necklineI wrestled a bit with the zip. I knew I didn’t want an invisible zip. That seemed a bit wrong too so I opted for a lapped style zip insert. But could I get my head around it… No I bloomin’ couldn’t! I can do it with my eyes closed in the back of a pencil skirt but for some reason I just couldn’t pull it off. So I went for a straightforward zip insertion whereby I basted the seam shut, centred the zip and sewed to seam allowance. I did however prick stitch close to the teeth on the right side.

side zipper

I reluctantly wore my new dress a to a party on Sunday. I didn’t know any of the guests and was a bit worried I’d stick out like a sore thumb (in my 80s dress…. thanks dort!). But my assumptions were way off. Such wonderful food and great music and the most amazing people. My ‘wallflower status’ was upheld!

candy from Black Dwarf Designs
With Candy from Black Dwarf Designs

Oh and hats off to my wonderful fella, Daniel Selway who took the photos and who now finally has a site to host his pictures. Right here, in fact!

 

Nikita’s Prom Dress

Nikita prom dress title pic

I’m grinning like a Cheshire cat and welling up with pride as I sit poised to write this post. Meet Nikita, the sister of Jessica who was the lovely recipient of my first ever hand-made prom dress.

I knew there was another one on order, a year ago. After all you can’t make for one without the other can you?!

But what joy. What an absolutely pleasure to have another opportunity to make such a special dress. I’ve learned one hellofalot in this last year. Fitting mostly. This little beauty only took two fittings. I quite forget how many Jessica’s one took! I’ve learned not to be scared of cutting into the fabric. Learned how to be honest with measurements, how to be brave with fabric choices and mostly that I CAN make a dress befitting of a princess!

Nik modelling dress by the wooden door

Up until a few weeks ago, all Nikita’s dreams of her school leavers prom were wiped out when her school declared no funds for such frivolities, after all, this year. Everyone was gutted for her. Especially knowing how hard Nik has worked throughout her last school years… despite being asleep for most of them! Normal teenage behaviour you might assume but no, unfortunately for Nikita she suffers with narcolepsy. An awful condition which means she has to take very strong medication to keep awake. Lots of things trigger a collapse. Not least of all a fit of the giggles.

I reprimanded her dad recently, for his insistence on telling jokes one after the other but Nikita assured me it was fine because his jokes were so rubbish! She has the best S.O.H. ever!

It was such a relief when her school confirmed the prom would actually go ahead. But then a little panic set in when I realised I had a couple of weeks to pull off the dress.

Nikita wearing prom dress at Fulham PalaceI think by now you have the right to safely assume that Mr Ooobop, AKA the lovely Daniel Selway has been behind the creation of these blinding photos!

Helped by a scorching summer’s day and the beautiful setting of Fulham Palace, he has blown me away once again with his amazing self-taught skills.

Nikita wears ooobop prom dress at Fulham PalaceThe dress itself is fashioned from the same materials as Jessica’s, only in stronger colours. Red Duchesse Satin and Black polka dot tulle.

The halterneck bodice section is Simplicity 3825. Inspired by Nikita’s leaning towards a Marilyn-esque dress.

simplicity 3823 sewing pattern

I’ve had this pattern in my collection for some time and I’m so glad it came into good use.

I basted a layer of the dotted tulle over the bodice pieces and treated them as one for the outer pieces. Inside the bodice is self lined with the red satin. Its a good medium weight and gave the dress some necessary structure whilst not losing out to optimum swishy drape for the skirt.

Oh just look how divine her smile is!

By the fountain at Fulham Palace

The skirt is a full circle, of course. One can’t pose over street vents if the skirt doesn’t rise above one’s head! But actually a more demure pose was to be found next to a water fountain in the grounds of Fulham Palace!

Nikita sitting by the fountain in her prom dress

And lest I forget! There are the now signatory and obligatory 10 metres of soft-as-you-like dotted tulle that adorn said circle skirt. And no tears this time. I knew what to expect. I knew to pin section by section and I knew to baste… and to breathe!

walking barefoot in Fulham Palace gardens

walking away, barefoot

The back of the dress is genius in design. It has a wonderful elasticated panel which keeps the bodice fitted nice and snug with no gapes. I just love the effect that is created with the gathered netting over the liquid shiny satin.

back of prom dress bodice

 

ooobop prom dress in the parkI can honestly say that this dress is testament to everything I love about sewing. Not only about what I get out of the whole deal but what everyone else gets too. Nikita loved her dress and I feel so honoured to have made an original number for her. Mummy Tina was delighted to see her daughter have the best time in her new dress, Daddy Tim was very happy that I’d fulfilled the brief of a ‘modest’ dress and we are all so happy with Daniel’s outstanding photos.

Nikita will do well with whatever she choses to do. Of that I am sure. Nothing is going to hold this little lady back!

prom dress front

In the apple orchardAnd the talents didn’t stop there, oh no. Nikita’s lovely sister Jessica did such an amazing job of her make up for the prom and also today before the shoot. I’m so miffed I missed out on todays events. Slogging away in an icy office when I could have been out on location with the dream team in Fulham Palace!

Jessica doing Niks make up

So thank you girlies, for making a crazy sewing lady so happy and thank you Daniel for making my blog so pretty and thank you lovely readers for making it all worth it.

Portrait of Nikita