Self-drafted Liberty lawn dress

Liberty Lawn dress by ooobop

What a glorious weekend. Unlike almost everyone I know, I didn’t make any plans and for a while I was fighting the fomo as I scrolled through hundreds of family getaway posts. But today I am glad. Not only have I ticked off a few niggly household jobs but I’ve had lots of me time to stop and think and evaluate. Those kind of days are as rare as hen’s teeth despite a generalistic view of ones freelance ‘flexibility’.

self drafted dress by ooobop

I did however manage to squeeze in a lovely river walk with Mr O who kindly took some photos for this blog post. He’s so busy with plans for a new show (a very exciting show that I will tell you about soon) that it’s quite difficult to sync a weekend together. But we managed a trot from Hammersmith to Barnes and back and talked and laughed… a lot!




Liberty lawn dress by ooobop

I’m wearing another self-drafted dress. I don’t self-draft nearly often enough, mostly because it’s a time-hungry process but every time I do I’m reminded of how much more satisfying it is to make a dress that is totally bespoke.

Now it’s not the most original or ground-breaking in design… that comes later (lol)… but it fits. Because I made it fit following various stages of tweaks. My pattern pieces look such a mess with all the scribbles and notes but they are truly important scribbles and notes which tell the story of the journey of fit each time they have been used.

self drafted bodice pattern ooobop

My first fitting was practised on a retro-style top in 2014. The next time I used the pattern was for this wax-print dress – same bodice but a half-circle skirt. I had minor issues with the neckline and corrected it for the third fitting: my skulls and roses dress.




The beautiful fabric is of course a luscious Liberty Lawn. It was a birthday present from a very thoughtful friend. I had 2 metres and didn’t want to waste any of it. The bodice is self lined which feels so good against my skin and was perfectly breathable for a hot sunny stroll. I drafted the armholes to cover that squidgy boob-fat bit (is that the technical term?) and so that the straps don’t fall off my shoulders. That combination involves a fine balance as my shoulders are quite slopy. There is a zip in the left hand side –vintage-style –  so that I didn’t have to split the fabric on the back piece.

Dress design by ooobop

For the skirt section, I took the whole 60″ width to make a dirndl. For anyone who’s tried – I’m sure you’ll share my appreciation of how damned satisfying it is to gather lawn. And out of respect for such a beautiful fine fabric, I hand- sewed the hem. Not only does this fabric gather beautifully but there’s a pleasure in pressing it too. It just stays and makes the whole hand stitching thing a breeze.

Dress designed by ooobop

I give small leftover scraps to my local primary school for them to use in their craft projects and I’m sure they’ll be delighted with the quality this month. I’m certainly glad that I didn’t have to bin them. I absolutely could not have brought myself to have even put my foot on the bin pedal!

Our walk was lovely. The air was filled with warm wisteria  perfume. Not too dissimilar to doughnuts I think. Or is that just me?

Liberty lawn dress with wisteria

And can I just mention my shoes. Quite a step away from my usual heels and platforms. They are Lotta from Stockholm Clogs. Handmade and verified well made! And they come in all sorts of styles and colours. Go check them out! I’m not sponsored by them. I’m just very happy to pass on a good find.

Handmade dress by ooobop and Lotta from Stockholm clogs




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




Significant birthday dress

 

ooobop party dress front

Mostly I sew from patterns. Vintage ones, Burda ones, any of the big-four, independent ones, any that take my fancy, really. But when it came to finding a pattern befit of a significant birthday party dress, I was stumped. I searched through the hundreds I owned, I trawled through plenty more online and still I didn’t come up trumps until a visit to the hairdressers presented this beauty in one of their glossy mags.

dior inspiration

Who was I kidding?! But a girl can dream right?!

With a couple of months to go and so many people asking what I was going to wear, the pressure was on and almost too much to bear. I even considered RTW as a get out clause! But following more procrastination and now only 6 weeks to go, cool words of advice from Sally of Charity Shop Chic, put me back on track and sold it to me as a simple circle puffball attached to a bodice of choice.

ooobop creeping through the woods

I just needed a prompt, a bit of pressure and some added faith, obviously!

With all that poompf in the skirt section going on, the quest was for a simple bodice. One I could toile and fit with not much time on my hands. It also had to fit in with a busy work load leading up to Christmas, and be sewn in the the evenings so black was totally out of the question too!

ooobop party dress front view

I remember ear-marking this vintage Weldons pattern as a potential party dress some time back and when I rifled through my patterns for the umpteenth time, it shouted out all the reasons it should be chosen. Simple to fit, no sleeves to insert, flattering neckline, small amount of fabric required and a perfect yoke for a string of cockerel feathers!

weldons pattern 3833

The small amount of fabric issue was quite an issue at this point as I’d already decided that silk was the only way forward. The only way I was going to get a classy, crumpled look and not just wind up looking like a discarded crisp packet!

ooobop in the woods

The skirt section is a greedy full circle with an added 16 inches around the waist to accommodate 4 box pleats: Two at the front and two at the back. The full hem is then gathered onto an a-line, mini underskirt which I self-drafted by closing the waist darts on a self-drafted skirt block, and adding a little flare. Both are attached to the waist seam.

party dress back sunrise

The wonderful Sew Busy Lizzy gifted me the polka-dot taffeta some time back. I love that it found a special use. Not so shiny that it caused static, strong enough to support all that silk whilst adding a cheeky secret air of Moulin Rouge!

polka dot taffeta lining

Having toiled the whole thing in calico beforehand, it transpired I needed 5 metres of dupion silk. Pricey at £25 a metre if one shops in Broadwick Street, London. But £12 if you’re lucky, in Goldhawk Road. I say lucky because I pretty much went in all the shops to get the right colour – a two-tone black & red. And the last one I tried had not only the best colour but offered the best price too.

back view of party dress

For all my fretting, Sally was absolutely right of course. It really didn’t take long to sew. The indecision and worrying took way longer! And fears about working with silk were laughed off when I made the first cut. Literally like cutting into butter. And it behaved and sewed up brilliantly.

And so the finished article partied hard to the band and the DJ with a hall full of amazing family and friends. It went way too quickly though, and I so wish I could press replay so I could get round to spending more time with everyone who came. But I guess thats the downside of hosting ones own!

Mr O aka Daniel Selway took these amazing shots for me this morning. Nothing wrong with a party shot but lets just say there’s a definite improvement of photographic quality in the sober light of day!

party shoes

Happy new year to you all. Wishing you a peaceful, healthy, and joyous 2017 xxx

A gold quilted mini-skirt

 

gold quilted skirt front

Nothing ground-breaking to see here, save a self-drafted mini skirt in gold quilted fabric!

I’ve been wearing my black quilted skirt to death, lately so I thought I’d better make another in case my work colleagues think I’m a dirty stop-out!

In fact I’ve been wearing this one on a regular basis now so it may be time for a third!

I made it a while back and completely forgot to blog it. Or rather missed every small good-weather-window to photograph it. So an indoor remote shoot it was. And I’m so going to get into trouble for ‘trespassing’ in LMO’s bedroom! Those pink walls are a complete giveaway!

gold quilted skirt back

I used the same process as last time, namely a shortened version of a self-drafted pencil skirt pattern; added a facing of black cotton twill, this time and an invisible zip.

The hem is hand stitched this time. Mainly because the backing is a woven black affair and easy to pick up on a couple of threads for the sake of invisibility.

It seems I’m in good company with my choice of gold quilting. Have you seen Karen’s (Didyoumakethat) metallic tunic dress? I just love how something simple can literally shine with a crazy fabric!

I also find it amazing that as the months get colder, my hemlines get shorter! Anyone else find the same?

A blue half circle skirt

blue half circle skirt

This is my new half circle skirt. Self-drafted and made in a cobalt blue poly crepe.

Sounds pretty simple hey? Well to be honest, in principle it was. And it would have been a swifty project if I’d have remembered a couple of simple things.

ALWAYS MARK YOUR SELF-DRAFTED PATTERN PIECES AS SOON AS YOU’VE DRAWN THEM

Why? Well in my case, I have a fair few circle and half-circle skirt pieces that I’ve not only drafted for myself, but for others too. And in my haste I’d just labelled them ‘skirt front’ or ‘full circle’ and one just said ‘circle skirt piece no SA’. The latter was helpful, at least to know that I needed to add a seam allowance but none were any help at all to know if it was the right waist measurement, the right length, a full or half circle etc. What a twit!

blue half circle skirt

So first job was to redraft another, to my size. And second job was to ensure all that info was written bold and clear on the pattern piece for future use.

I’d already prewashed my fabric, so that was a win. The number of times I’ve been fired up to sew and didn’t have prepared fabric to hand is way too many to count. But swifty projects aren’t very swifty at all if you haven’t factored in to…

ALLOW A CIRCLE SKIRT TO HANG AT LEAST OVERNIGHT BEFORE HEMMING

Sewing a circle or half circle really doesn’t take that long but don’t bank on whipping one up, hours before a party because it has to hang at least overnight to allow the weight of the bias fabric to drop. This will almost definitely result in an uneven hem and will need levelling before hemming. I put mine on a dressmakers dummy but I’m sure if it was hung evenly on a pegged coathanger, you would achieve the same result.

So next there’s the levelling. I put the dressmakers dummy, wearing the skirt, on a table so that the hem is at eye-level. I use a metal rule from table top to my desired length and then mark all round with chalk or pins, rotating the whole dummy rather than spinning it (that’s another long story). I then go round a 2nd time to double check the measurements.

Once trimmed I sewed a quarter inch line of stitches from the edge and pressed up a hem. I stitched and in this case didn’t need to turn over again. But that might be necessary if fabric is more fraying.

blue half circle skirt

The lining of course needs the same treatment.

I rarely hate on any aspect of sewing, but I discovered this morning that I truly hate levelling, trimming and narrow-hemming lining fabric for a circle skirt, like massively!

It appears I’ve only made one other half circle skirt before, but it was so long ago, it’s well and truly worn out! So as much as I love this colour blue – quite unusual for me actually, don’t you think?! – I feel I must make a replacement black one too. And maybe a red as well!

I must at this point just big up my 12 year-old daughter who took these lovely photos for me. It was a very impromtu shoot as I was doing some shots of my eldest daughter who was face-painting in the park. Little Miss O brought her own camera along for some practice and certainly did me proud. Look out dad, someone’s hot on your heels!

A quilted mini skirt

quilted skirt front

This skirt wasn’t on a list. Moreover it jumped to the top of the queue once I’d seen the fabric and decided I had to have a quilted skirt. I knew too that it would be a perfect pairing for my Sarah Shirt that I tested for By Hand London.

When I stumbled across the quilty roll of fabulousness in A-One, Goldhawk Road,  I had a flashback to some seriously stored inspiration: I fell in love with Marie’s quilted pleather skirt 2 years ago and clearly it didn’t leave my head. But I also saw Paloma Faith sporting a pink pvc quilted skirt on The Voice a couple of weeks ago (can’t find visual ref, sorry) which clearly gave a nudge to dislodge to said stored inspiration.

quilted mini skirt back

It’s not A-line, like Marie’s or Paloma’s though it would have been good to eliminate the darts. I figured that Sarah needed to do all the hollering and she needed a small straight skirt to wear underneath. It probably could have been more understated but I wasn’t up for sewing something so boring!

I used an existing self-drafted skirt pattern and shortened it. The poomfy fabric is totally unsuitable for a waistband so I faced it with some leftover heavyweight polyester satin. No interfacing needed. In fact no more bulk whatsoever needed! I did understitch and pressed with a cloth on a low heat but with all my might to get the waist seam vaguely flat!

quilted mini skirt facing

I haven’t lined it yet. Still pondering whether to or not. There are no messy edges inside, the quilty fabric doesn’t fray, but it does rustle when I walk! Might be a bit irritating for my work colleagues when I trot back and forth to the kitchen to make a cuppa. Will road-test it next week and test for ‘tuts’!

No fancy shoot this week (save the glimpses of it on the Sarah Shirt post). Mr O is away gigging with The Redfords, at a wedding fair, and I’m desperately trying to save some time so that I can get on with his #Blazerof2016 blazer toile!

So please forgive me as I bugger off to defluff the table and get cutting into that calico.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, all x

 

On being bothered!

vintage simplicity pattern 6772

It’s been an eventful few days. Asides from the usual back to back workload, there was Holly Johnson on Thursday, Fleetwood Mac on Friday and a whole sunny day with the children at Pools on the Park in Richmond on Saturday.

I was therefore a little jaded last night. Like a hologram, in fact. a pink frazzled sleepy hologram! I wanted to sew. But the pattern I wanted to sew, typically wasn’t in my size, let alone relative to my proportions. I knew it needed some grading and it pained me to think I had to put some effort in before I could just sit and sew. I made another cup of tea. Did the washing up. Put a laundry load on. Flicked through Facebook. Made another cup of tea. I certainly could have graded and cut out the damned thing instead of doing all that, and by that time it was 9.30pm.

So I got cross with myself and my refusal to do what I’d arranged with myself to do. And set about it. The punishment being that if I fannied around anymore and didn’t put my mind to what was needed to be done I’d just lose more sleep-time. And I was tired, I can tell you!

So with the infamous Nike strapline loud and clear in my head, two back-to-back episodes of Eastenders lined up on iplayer, I got tracing and marking and cutting like a good’un. The bodice needed one set of grading, the skirt section another. And the darts needed redrawing and repositioning. I don’t know that I’ve ever employed the cut-and-spread method of grading so properly before. I’ve thought about doing it but it always seems like so much work. It really isn’t! No more winging it with adding a bit here and a bit there on the side seams!

graded pattern pieces

It’s a shirt dress by the way. Simplicity 6772 from the 1960s. I’m making version 3, the blue one on the right. Not my usual style of shirt-waist dress like the ones I made previously: the 1940s shirt dress and the shirt dress revisited, but a more casual, straight like shirt dress that buttons all the way down. I will skip those bound buttonholes though. The fabric is a suiting fabric, a lightweight wool-blend, confirmed by a burn test that revealed a crumbly kind of ash, signifying more poly than wool! So it doesn’t deserve such couture details. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve done the hockey run, put another wash-load on, seen my daughter off to the Park Club and had lunch with my son. Mr O is on his way to a wedding gig and I kid you not, I just actually heard a pin drop!

So now the pieces are cut out, darts marked and pinned and I’m now about to embark on the part I love the most. And fingers crossed, will be so pleased that I bothered to grade those pattern pieces. If it does work out good I will no longer have to miss out on those fabulous vintage pattern bids for being the wrong size.

vintage simplicity 6772 cut out

I won’t tempt fate. In fact I won’t waffle on any more as I now have a couple of hours of very valuable sewing time on my hands. Just have to avoid the distraction of the sun. Repeat. Just have to avoid the distraction of the sun!!

 

Nothing boring about a pencil skirt.

pencil skirt
New pencil skirt, handmade pinstripe jacket and Lola Ramona shoes

I’m standing in a post office queue, assuming a vintage Vogue packet pose. Right foot slightly forward, knee turned inwards, right hand resting limply on the barrier, opposite hip cocked. Left elbow is tucked just above cocked hip with forearm projecting at 45 degrees. Cheap handbag rests in crook of arm. Left palm is face up with index finger extended accusingly. I’ve practiced this before. In the mirror. But not in the post office And not in this skirt.

pencil skirt close up
Much like the aforementioned pose but in better surroundings!

It’s a new skirt. A boring pencil skirt. Least that’s what I thought I was making when I started cutting it out it 3 weeks ago. It’s a self-drafted pencil skirt which makes it bespoke. But without any fancy detail, no flounce, no welts or clever rouching just the standard double darts front and back. That’s why it tooks 3 whole weeks to finish. Countless 10 minute-intervals of boring sewing was more than enough time to ensure I didn’t actually die of  boredom. Absolutely nothing to whet my enthusiasm here. It’s proper boring knee-length too. Not short and sexy, not longer to deserve a vintage vibe. Just a normal length. The kind of length that abides by school rules. Where’s the excitement in that?

But now its finished and its hugging my hips and I’ve had some thinking time in the queue I’m coming round to the idea that perhaps I’ve not given this skirt enough credit.

The fabric is pure quality. A linen wool mix I think. (I’m never totally sure about fabric content), In shades of indigo, black and speckled with ivory, so soft it moulds perfectly to my frame but with enough body to keep a tailored shape. Karen kindly bought it for me as a gift from Mood Fabrics, New York so long ago I can’t remember when. I knew it was destined for a pencil skirt but my inner fashion designer head is always craving an off-the-wall statement garment. Who knows what’s stopping me?

pencil skirt at Harrods Depository
On the riverside near Harrods Furniture Depository

But if post office queues are good for anything – apart from gleefully acknowledging that everyone else’s huffing and puffing indicates that they are far more stressed than you – it’s got to be thinking time. Not to be wasted. A valuable moment to contemplate. There’s not much time for that at any other point in the day. And so, after a little contemplation I conclude:  My new skirt is actually not as boring as I initially made out.

Resuming my pose, I’m reassured that this skirt is after all, classic. It’s timeless, sexy even, regardless of standardised length and it smacks of quality.  It’s also classy which is why I’m standing like a 50s illustration on a sewing packet. It deserves the justice of a proper showcase. Moreso, given that no ‘Big Four’ pattern helped me out here nor did this skirt have a shady RTW past. It was born of my own fair hand, and my sewing machine. You can tell by the standard 2 inch hand-stitched hem and the perfectly lined vent if you want proof. And hey, it perfectly matches my Spencer jacket that I made years ago! My pride is my therapy right now. And no up-and-down stare from any one of these crazy old ladies is going to take it away.

Pencil skirt back view
I just love a pair of stripy heels!

I leave the sighs of the post office behind me, lowering my pretend vintage sunglasses from my head to my nose, and wiggle-walk to work like a Mad Men extra.

On entering  the office, the first thing my  colleague says is, “oooh… lovely skirt. Is that new?! I love the colour, it fits so good and the length is perfect!” She doesn’t sew. She just says all the right things and I love her!

Please note: The photos were clearly not taken in the post office – that would be truly boring – but instead, by the riverside, Hammersmith, by my ever trusty photographer, Daniel. We went for lunch at the Blue Boat. A relatively new establishment on the river. ‘Poncey’ as aptly described by the waiter (when he sincerely apologised for not having Gordons or Schweppes on the drinks list) but nonetheless brilliant in service, and the food was bloody gorgeous!

Posing outside the Blue Boat
Outside the Blue Boat restaurant, Hammersmith

53-minute skirt for Red Nose Day

red skirt for red nose day

I’m just going to sneak in with a quick post about a speedy skirt I made last night.

Youngest dort announced on Wednesday evening that she needed a red skirt or some red leggings for Red Nose day on Friday.

“No problemo sweetipops,” I said. I happened to be working next to Westfield shopping centre on Thursday and I would have many a ladies clothes shop to bag an emergency red garment.

Famous last words. Would you believe that between five top ladies-wear shops, and one very large sports shop, there was not a red skirt or pair of leggings to be found. Has red gone out of fashion? There was pink, orange, coral and burgundy but not a glimpse of red in sight, save a few t-shirts!

I had already planned a night in with good chums and the Great British Sewing Bee final on Thursday after work. No way was I going to cancel that. There were ‘skanklets’ and everything!

Watching #GBSB final. #skanklette

A photo posted by Tilly Walnes (@tillybuttons) on

So I planned a speedy skirt on the way to Tilly’s and – fuelled by Prosecco and pizza and mini eggs – I raced back to my sewing table before the clock struck midnight. Proper little Cinders, me!

53 minutes later, in true Sewing Bee stylee, I’d made the pattern and stitched up a full circle skirt with an elasticated waist from some leftover red jersey. It scores nothing for couture but fulfilled the brief… and diverted a tantrum.

It’s going to take me a little longer to write and illustrate the tute but I’ll be back with one later, because I quite fancy one of these myself! Till then, have a wonderful weekend, all. Hope you get some quality sewing time in.

A skirt most fitting for my friend

Fitted pencil skirt

Meet Ms Moneypenny. AKA my lovely friend, Katy. Modelling the skirt she won in the school auction, made by yours truly.

And prepare for a whole host of lovely shots taken by Mr Ooobop, AKA Daniel who I am nagging like mad to get his portfolio up and live so I can share more of his lovely photography with you.

fitted pencil skirt modelled in the garden

Getting the fit right on ones own self is one thing but the pressure to get it right for someone else is far more terrifying! I suppose it’s a good kind of terrifying because it does make you learn very fast and not settle for anything less than a good fit.

I got a bit lucky with Katy. One measuring session, one draft of the pieces, one test skirt for a fitting, and one final fitting for the actual skirt. Probably by the power of flook but selling it in as skill!

Katy happy in her new skirt

This lovely little impromptu shoot revealed Katy’s hidden modelling talents. Took to it like a duck to water, she did. And check out those pins… we don’t get to see them very often!

sitting pretty with flowers

Such a pretty garden too. Could easily be confused for one in the Med! I wish I’d have taken a shot of Mr O as he was clicking away. He was revelling in the whole session. Lying on the floor, up in a tree, peeping round Grecian columns…! I was blissed out with G&T in one hand and hot dog in the other!

Katy modelling pencil skirt

And of course there were props…

back view with Frankie the puppy

Meet Frankie Knuckles, Katy’s 11-week old border terrier puppy. She has stolen everyone’s heart, obvs!

Holding Frankie the puppy

And there was photobombing, of course!

photobombed by children

Oh how I love this shot…

Katy modelling with her daughter

It’s such a great feeling to make something for someone who means so much to you. Especially when it fits them so well. It’s also the only time you can really get away with unashamedly staring at your mate’s bum.

You can just about see where I hand-picked the lapped zipper, and of course where I – ahem – matched the checks across the back seam (*polishes nails*)

See now, you’re all looking at her bum!

back view of skirt

The waistband pattern runs through centre front but waist darts rather mess up the plan. When I next make a skirt with this kind of fabric (it’s 100% gorgeous wool by the way) I might be inclined to create side seams on the waistband, as on properly tailored skirts, so that I can match the checks on the back too. This would also allow for expansion if ever needed.

front detail of skirt

I leave you all with a parting shot of the adorable Frankie. A fine model herself and because I just know she stole your heart too!

puppy border terrier

Here’s to more sunshiny days, fabulous photos, cute puppy dogs, fantastic friends and great opportunities for wonderful sewing projects. Cheers all x