Blackmore 9266 So-Easy!

vintage blackmore 9266 dress

I’ve been neglecting my vintage patterns of late. But that did allow for some exciting rummaging and little squeals of delight when I found some treasures I’d completely forgotten about. And I just love that ‘aha moment’ when found pattern meets perfect stash fabric. Proper romance that is!

This is Blackmore So-Easy 9266. Not sure if it’s 50s or 60s as it’s not dated. The instructions were a little more explained compared to the last 40s Blackmore pattern I used but I enjoyed making both just the same.

vintage blackmore 9266 sewing pattern

I knew this dress wasn’t going to fit straight out of the packet. It was already too small and any dodgy fitting on this was going to shout from the rooftops. So it needed time and patience to grade it up properly and work through 3 toiles before I was ready to cut into the real stuff.

Once all the adjustments were transferred to the pattern pieces – grading up, shortening the back bodice substantially, taking out some excess from the overbust and increasing the waist – it was fundamentally a very easy to sew dress.

vintage blackmore 9266 dress

There’s no lining. The bodice is simply faced at the top edge. I must remember to tack this down in a couple of places on the inside, as the photos totally reveal how it peaks out at the back if it’s not poked in to start with.

I do so love recreating an original vintage dress but I should know by now how the drawings on the cover cheat so much! The skirt on the cover looks tapered and very fitted but in actual fact, not only is cut straight, it has a wide kick pleat allowance which gives the visual appearance of being even wider at the hemline.

I took it in quite substantially to arrive at this shape – like 4 inches each side seam! – and I sewed the kick pleat down too. I hated the granny hemline. Not flattering on my vertically challenged frame for sure. This does, however, mean that I have to walk very lady-like and in heels and therefore one helluva lot slower than normal. Not such a bad thing when for most of the time I’m rushing around like a lunatic with giant strides in Docs or trainers.

vintage blackmore 9266 dress

The fabric is bark cloth. Found in a little basement fabric shop in Waterloo ages ago. I love the texture so much, the colours are fabulous and it sews up beautifully. I made a Martini dress from bark cloth of the vintage kind but I have to say, this modern weave was definitely more grain-stable and less prone to stretch. It’s not usual to find this stuff in any old fabric store. Certainly a void of it in the Goldhawk Road. So if anyone has a link to a favourite UK store, please let me know. By the time shipping is added to the original Hawaiian brands, the price is rocketed!

Now, I would just like to touch upon the issue of straps. Fally down straps!! I felt sure that I had sussed the right width, length, the right position and before sewing them down, I walked around the house for a few hours with them pinned to make sure of their position. Ulitmately the ends of the straps would be sandwiched between the facing and the top bodice so better to get them in the right position first. I thought I’d cracked it. Made sure to sew exactly as pinned. But the buggers still fall down!! It really is the bane of my strappy-dress life.

vintage blackmore dress

To be fair, It doesn’t help that I’ve got sloping shoulders. But I do think also that I made the bodice a touch too wide for my over-bust and so the straps sit too close to the edge of my shoulders. Another little adjustment to bear in mind for next time.

Clever lady Clare, from River Elliot Bridal also had a great solution which was to sew a narrow elastic inside the strap to generate a little more grip. Must give that a go too.

I’m hoping the stormy skies keep at bay and glorious sunshine keeps coming over the next few months so my current favourite newbie gets more outings. But all the same, the fickle in me is furiously flicking through the collection to find the next new fave to make… because I can!

vintage blackmore 9266 dress

Photos by Daniel James Photography
Location: Hammersmith
Shoes: Lola Ramona

The Big Vintage Sewalong

BVS blogger tour

Have you heard about the Big Vintage Sewalong hosted by Butterick, yet?

It was launched just last week as a fun way to raise some awareness and some funds for a worthwhile cause – The Eve Appeal Charity: to date, the only cancer research charity focussed on improving detection, risk prediciton and prevention of all five gynaecological cancers.

From March to October this year, sewists from across the UK will be encouraged to sew one of the featured vintage dressmaking patterns, ranging from the 1930’s to the 1960’s. Money raised from the sale of each pattern will go to the The Eve Appeal Charity. The selection is amazing, but then I’m hugely biased – I’m a sucker for a vintage pattern! You can browse and purchase yours by clicking on the images below or from the official website: www.vintagesewalong.co.uk

And there will be plenty of opportunity to share your finished garments and follow others using hashtag #bvsewalong and copying in @McCallpatternUK on Twitter or @McCallpatternUK on Instagram.

1930s

1930s dress 1930s skirt 1930s blouse 1930s dress

1940s

1940s dress and jacket 1940s dress 1940s dress

1950s

1950s dress 1950s dress 1950s dress 1950s dress
1950s coat 1950s dress 1950s dress

1960s

1960s dress 1960s dress 1960s 1960s dress and jacket

To support the campaign there’ll be vintage workshops, events in store, a vintage tea party, a special supplement in Love Sewing Magazine and a blogger tour. That’s where I come in – scheduled for June 24th, to reveal my chosen vintage garment from the selection above. Can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet but I can reveal that it will come hand in hand with a giveaway of the self same pattern so be sure to keep tuned for details, because it’s a goodie!!

And here’s the schedule for the blog tour:

11/03/16   Katie at What Katie Sews
25/03/16   Portia at Makery
08/04/16   Kate at The Fold Line
15/04/16   Amy at Almond Rock
29/04/16   Elisalex at By Hand London
13/05/16   Jane at Handmade Jane
27/05/16   Jennifer at The Gingerthread Girl
10/06/16   Lisa at the You Tube Sew Over It
24/06/16   Janene at ooobop
08/07/16   Marie at A Stitching Odyssey
15/07/16   Kerry at Kestrel Makes
22/07/16   Fiona at Diary of a Chainstitcher
29/07/16   Karen at Did You Make That?
05/08/16   Laura at Sew for Victory
12/08/16   Nina at ThumbleNina
19/08/16   Charlotte at English Girl at Home
26/08/16   Gabby at Living on a Shoestring
02/09/16   Rachel at House of Pinheiro
09/09/16   Elena at Randomly Happy
16/09/16   Wendy at Butterick
23/09/16   Winnie at Scruffy Badger Time
30/09/16   Rachel at The Fold Line

The Foldline have posted about it here and to keep up to date with all things Big Vintage Sewalong be sure to visit the official website at: www.vintagesewalong.co.uk

Let me know what ones tickle your fancy and if you have an inkling what my chosen pattern might be!

 

Vintage Simplicity 7527 and a fond farewell

simplicity 7527 1968 dress Bowie

That news announcement on Monday 11th January 2016 marked the beginning of another very sad week and another goodbye I totally wasn’t prepared for. My first true love, my ‘confidant’, my constant, my hero… my David Bowie.

I’ve always felt alone with my passion for this man but these last few days have seen everyone on my feed, saddened and some devastated as me. Just one of my friends dared to mock the fan hysteria with sarcasm but I’ve resisted the urge to argue and instead, silently felt sorry for him- (who-shall-not-be-named) in that he clearly didn’t experience the love as much as we all did.

David Bowie memorial Brixton

Since 13 years old, when I was accused of being a ‘weirdo’, not fitting into any of the usual cliques, I’ve hung onto his every word – after all, precious few wrote a song called Janine (He wasn’t very good at spelling ;-)) – I loved the fashions, going to most of his gigs: on shoulders of strangers, right at the front on the Serious Moonlight Tour 1983; watching him descend from the underbelly of a Glass Spider in 1987; and we even touched, albeit fingertips, at the Hanover Grand, 1997 when I won a pair of tickets from Capital Radio! I even went to the loo in his dressing room at the Royal Festival Hall 2002. Long story! There were others. And his inspiration is untold. But we never actually met. Something I was holding out for. But actually I’m not sure I could have kept my cool so it’s probably for the best that we didn’t.

simplicity 7527 1968 brixton

So when Mr O suggested Brixton, his birthplace, as a venue for my latest dress shoot it wasn’t questioned. Seemed wrong to pose in front of the memorial so we wandered off to the Village Market. Colder than a polar bear’s toes, it was. So we warmed up on some buckwheat galettes at Senzala Creperie. They were amazing – staff and food!

simplicity 7527 1968 dress

The dress is a vintage Simplicity pattern, no. 7527 from 1968. Another happy Ebay win about a year ago, if I remember rightly. It has been designed for wovens but I figured it would work just as well in a stretch jersey.

simplicity 7527 sewing pattern

Incidentally, this stretch jersey is black with red flecks and allegedly ex-Hobbs. I got it from Dalston Mill Fabrics in the Ridley Road Market, not really knowing then what it was going to be. But it was always going to be something!

simplicity 7527 1968 dress

I’m not sure of the content. But it is very, very stretchy and quite weighty. A burn test revealed a minute quantity of something natural, so I’m guessing a viscose blend as it does have a lovely smooth feel about it.

vintage simplicity 7527 1968 dress

I expected it to come up big, not only because the pattern size was bigger than my usual but because stretch fabric, well… it stretches! There was rather a lot to come off. Five inches to be precise, so I took it, rather dodgily from the sides and a little bit from the centre front and back seams. This is usually totally inadvisable but I was in a hurry and hey, it kinda worked! Wrists dutifully slapped, I’ve since noted how to grade it down properly  and will make another with proper adjustments next time.

vintage simplicity 7527 1968 dress

The best thing about making it in a stretch jersey is that it doesn’t need a closure. I made sure that the turtleneck did fit over my head before I sewed it for real. I tacked the whole thing with a long straight stitch before sewing with a shallow zigzag stitch on my ordinary machine, much the same as I did on my Agnes top. And then I finished the seams on my 3-thread overlocker.

vintage simplicity 7527 dress

I’m not kidding when I say this was a quick project. I cut it out on the Wednesday evening, sewed it on the Thursday evening after work, and wore it on the Friday to a funeral. Needs must when you find that you don’t own (or fit into) a single black dress! Doesn’t look really funeral appropriate in these photos but suffice to say, my goosebump-riddled arms were covered with a respectable jacket on the day.

 

Photography: Daniel Selway

Hat: Shepherds Bush Market
Shoes: Aldo 
Seamed tights: M&S

 

A Very Happy Mail Day

Yesterday was a very, very happy mail day. There I was, beavering away like a goodun, working from home, though at just about tipping point from the bloody noisy builders banging about next door, when not one, but two substantial thuds landed on the front door mat. My fuse was half blown and I was about to yell at the usual runaway estate agent delivery boy, when I remembered  what could possibly be in those two packages.

Package number one:

ooobop moo cards

This is the second batch of cards I’ve ordered from Moo. The third if you count the ones I ordered for Mr O. The first ooobop ones were way before I’d decided on my identity and so I’d ordered the cute little mini ones. But they’ve since run out. I secretly wanted them to run out when these fabulous new square formats were introduced to the range. My logo sits so perfectly in the middle and there’s plenty nuff room on the reverse to add details plus another image. Plus, they properly match my garment labels too!

If you’ve never used Moo before I wholly recommend them for a fabulous service and great quality. There’s even a real person on the end of the phone if you need any help. Though the process is a very simple step-by-step online operation.

I’m not being paid to big them up, by the way. I properly love them! And if you fancy some of your own there’s link here you can use which gives you 10% off your first order:

http://www.moo.com/share/ytsw9k

And I get rewarded in ‘moolah’ if you place an order. And so do you once you’ve placed your order and recommended a friend.

I don’t make any money from my sewing but I do make lots of friends. Like for instance I got chatting to a lovely lady the other day on the bus who was knitting with some fabulous yarn that looked like pencil shavings! I couldn’t resist asking her about it and within seconds we were chatting all things sewing and knitting. She had run out of cards but luckily I managed to dig out the last remaining dog-eared one from my bag just before she had to get off at her stop. It was then that I realised how useful they are and how I must get some new ones. I’m never quick or dexterous enough to tap in a new contact on my phone in a hurry. I come over all fingers and thumbs, so these are perfect!

And so what could possibly be as exciting in the next package?

Package number two:

I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to get a copy of this film. I don’t even know anyone else who’s ever heard of this film: The Yellow Rolls Royce! Anyone? Anywhere? The last time I watched this film was nearly four decades ago so I was hoping my love for it wasn’t a romantically distorted view! How could it be. Check out the all star cast: Shirley MacLaine, Omar Sharif, Ingrid Bergman, Rex Harrison, Jeanne Moreau, George C. Scott, Alain Delon, with surprise appearances from Art Carney, Joyce Grenfell and Lance Percival!

The Yellow Rolls Royce dvd

So why does this news belong on my sewing blog (besides the fact that I love watching an old movie while I sew)? Well. As I watched, and I indeed loved, I remembered exactly why I truly loved it so so much. Not just because I absolutely fell head over heels for Alain Delon at a very illegal age, I also totally fell in love with Shirley MacLaine and her wardrobe. She was a gangsters moll. ‘Fidanzata’ to George C. Scotts character of Paolo Maltese. And even at that age I wanted her clothes, her hair, her make up: tight wiggle skirts and dresses, stripy halter tops, swing skirts and chiffon scarves. Black, white and red, candy pink with black trim, polka dots, chiffon and fur. Pretty sure they were faux!! And there was me thinking it was all about Alain. Ha! I’m going to watch it again and again until I’ve clocked every item in her wardrobe and then make them all!

Shirley MacLaine Yellow Rolls Royce
Source: Fookdamorph
Shirley MacLaine Yellow Rolls Royce
Source: Who2 Biographies

I just adore all the black buttons down the back of that pink dress. Mine would be red of course! And if you click the source for the image below you will get a little clip of the movie so you can see where I’m coming from!

Shirley MacLaine Yellow Rolls Royce pink dress
Source: TCM.com

I could just watch this film over and over. In fact I just watched that clip 3 times! This will now be my favourite movie to sew by.

Do you watch movies while you sew? What are your besties?

A 60s worky shirt-dress

simplicity 6772 shirtdress frontGood afternoon lovely readers. I trust you are having a lovely weekend. I love the peace and quiet of a Sunday afternoon. It’s especially quiet today since Mr O and both children are all out. Best blogging time I thought, but eeek, no photographer! So please excuse the awkward poses to the remote snaps! It’s hard to summon up the enthusiasm when there’s no one bossing you around.

This is the first draft of Simplicity 6772. A lovely fitted sheath dress with front button closing and notched collar. Or a shirt-dress to the layperson!

simplicity 6772 packet

I made version 3, with short sleeves, which buttons all the way down. And I used a £2.50/metre suiting fabric from Dave/Danielle the Drapers in Shepherds Bush Market. I did stop to ponder who might make such a crazy suit in gingham but images of capri trousers and cropped jackets a la Doris Day quickly sprung to mind, very nearly usurping the plans for this dress.

I love Dave the Draper fabric for test garments. I don’t think you can actually buy cheaper and even though the content and quality is an unknown, its always good enough. And generally speaking I end up with something wearable, in this case…. for a fiver!

simplicity 6772 sideThat said, I will be making some adjustments to the next one, which incidentally is already cut out! Namely: taking some of the ease out of the sleeves. They are practically puffed sleeves and it certainly didn’t warn me of that on the packet front. They are also a weird length. I made twice the suggested hem allowance, and turned them up! I’ll also be shaving a centimetre off each shoulder before I sew them in.

I did some proper grading on this pattern using the cut and spread method. A little added to the bodice, moreso added to the waist and hip with the side seams blended together. I remembered to add the extra to the collar and the sleeves, though I probably should have left the sleeves alone to avoid the puff!

Given that it’s suiting fabric it didn’t need a lining. I just overlocked the seams. Suiting is a joy to hem, especially on this kind of check. It’s so easy to pick a couple of threads and the stitches just disappear. It’s presses so easily too. It’s a wool blend of sorts. And I have totally gotten over my snobbery of synthetic/blended fabric, since it doesn’t need much ironing and doesn’t tend to crease when you’ve been sat down at an office desk all day.

I love a shirt-dress but have only made two before. The 1940s Shoe Dress and The Shirt Dress Revisited. Both from the same pattern, both with full skirts. I like how this one is more understated though. Would be completely utilitarian in a khaki! It certainly feels more worky than the other two. To be honest, I’m lucky enough to work in a creative environment where almost anything goes (as is often apparent!).

I was a little disappointed that I didn’t have a suitable set of red buttons but it was quite refreshing to be persuaded with blue ones. I toyed with green and checked ones but the winners were some gorgeous vintage buttons kindly inherited from my friend Nigel’s, aunt.

vintage blue buttons

There are a whopping twelve darts going on in this dress! Four long diamond ones in the front, four of the same in the back; two shoulder darts and two bust darts. And its all these ‘lovely’ darts that create the great shape to this dress. The back especially. And I love that little kick pleat. So glad I didn’t exchange it for a slit.

simplicity 6772 shirtdress back view

It would be crazy at this point not to mention the shoes. A more than happy find on my way back from work in the sale at Office. They are of course my favourite Lola Ramona shoes. These ones having pale green polka dots, a cream bow and purple heels. The thing I love most about these shoes is that they don’t go with anything but yet they look good with everything!!

lola ramona spotty bow shoes

I’ll be off now. The plan is to return shortly with a revised version of this shirt-dress. But you know what happens when you make plans. Well, when I make them, anyway!

TTFN 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!!

 

Make your own Zhivago-inspired fur hat: FREE pattern download

make your own fur hat free patternquick sewing projectHappy new year lovely followers!

I’m so delighted to share this pattern with you as my first post of 2015. It’s a timeless, vintage-style fur hat that will keep you warm and toasty in the most stylish way possible! And it’s a real quick project to sew up for that quick sewing fix when time isn’t on your side!

It really is so super easy to make. Just download and print out the FREE_fur_hat_pattern and follow these few simple instructions. The hardest thing about this hat will be to get your hands on some quality fur of the faux kind!

The pattern corresponds to my head size which is 22.5 inches or 57 cm.
You may need to adjust the pattern to personalise the fit.

You will need:

  • 1/4 m of faux fur (retailers will only usually sell you 1/2m at a time but its often worth an ask!)
  • 1/4 m of lining fabric (or find some scraps in your stash)
  • coordinating thread
  • a vacuum cleaner to hoover up all the fluff!

Instructions:

  • Make sure you print out your FREE_fur_hat_pattern at actual size, and check with the test square (on page 4 of the pdf) that it has printed correctly. Cut out and paste the sheets together to match the layout on page 1 of the pdf. Complete the hat band and crown sections as full pieces as instructed on the pattern then cut out.

NOTE: Before you pin the pattern to your fur fabric, think about what direction you prefer the fur to lie. On this particular hat I made, the pile strokes downwards on the band, from the top of the crown, down towards my eyebrows! On the top circular piece, it strokes from front to back. Incidentally, the centre back of the hat is where the band is seamed.

TIP: When cutting your fur pieces, cut on the reverse and just snip carefully through the backing fabric so as not to cut through to the actual fur on the right side. You will achieve a much better finish on the seams.

  • Pin the pattern to your fur pieces and cut out, paying heed to the tip above.
  • Pin and cut out your lining pieces. It doesn’t matter for the circular lining piece but make sure the band is cut on a straight grain to avoid stretching.
  • Take your fur band piece and fold in half, right sides together. Pin the short ends together, making sure the fur is tucked inside, and stitch using a 1.5 cm seam allowance following the direction of the fur.

seam fur band

TIP: When sewing fur fabric, Increase your stitch length a little so prevent thread tangling.

  • Finger-press the seam open and hold in place with a couple of tacking stitches top and bottom of seam.
  • Pin the fur circular crown piece to the hat band, making sure the fur is tucked in and checking the direction of the fur is correct. See note above. Sew the seam using a 1.5 cm seam allowance.
pin and stitch crown to band
Pin and stitch crown to band
  • Turn right side out. Using a long craft pin (a normal pin or needle will do) drag it along the seam allowance to free the fur that has got caught in the seam.
picked trapped fur from seam with pin
Pick trapped fur from seam with pin
  • Now take your lining piece for the band, pin the short edges together as above and stitch with a regular stitch length and a 1.5 cm seam allowance. Press seam open.
  • Stay stitch the circular lining piece within the seam allowance, to prevent stretching.
Stay-stitch circular lining piece
Stay-stitch circular lining piece
  • Pin the lining piece for the crown along one edge of the band and seam together, leaving a about 4 inches / 10cm open for turning.
leave opening in lining
Leave opening in lining
  • With right sides together pin the rims of the lining and the fur hat together. Effectively the fur hat will be sitting inside the lining. Pin together, matching the two centre back seams and stitch along the entire edge, securing the stitching, beginning and end.
Sew lining to outer fabric
Pin and sew lining to outer fabric
  • Turn the hat to the right side through the opening left in the lining, and you’re almost done!
Turn hat to the right side through this opening
Turn hat to the right side through this opening
  • Pin the lining opening together, tucking in the seam allowance, and slip-stitch closed. With matching thread, obvs!
Slip stitch the to close the opening in the lining
Slip stitch to close the opening in the lining. With matching thread obvs!

Now all that is left to do is to don your new fancy fur hat, step out in the snow and hum the theme tune to Doctor Zhivago!

Please shout if anything is unclear. I’d be delighted to hear how you get on.

Faux Zhivago: handmade retro-style fur hat

handmade fur hat

I watched the film, Doctor Zhivago lots of years ago, snuggled up on the sofa with my mum. Can’t say I remember much about the plot but the music and the coats and the hats stayed with me for sure!

So when I found a crazy retro-style furry black hat in Oxfam, I knew I could and should shamelessly copy and create one of my own even if I didn’t have the lips to pull of a sultry pout, Julie Christie style.

So here is the Ooobop faux fur, Zhivagoesque, vintage-style hat that will laugh in the face of any Russian-style snowfall that threatens over the next few days.

handmade vintage style fur hat

I care not if my children walk ten paces behind me.

I care not if Mr O likens me to Rab C Nesbitt’s Wife.

And I care even less for all those sideways glances in the high street. They are just jealous eyes!

My ears are warm. My bad hair day is irrelevant. And Lara’s Theme tune is on loop!

handmade fur hat Doctor Zhivago style

The faux fox fur – I keep having to state faux because it actually feels too real to be faux! – was a bit pricey but it was a justified birthday spend up gifted by my lovely mum. I got it in A-One Fabrics in the Goldhawk Road and it is such good silky quality. Only needed half a metre and that was enough for a trial one that went wrong, this one which didn’t, and perhaps a matching fur muff to come! Do people even wear those nowadays?

I probably don’t need to declare that it was Mr O that took these fab photos – late last night, with next to no light but one of those god-awful energy saving bulbs and a few fairy twinkles. I certainly wouldn’t have had the patience. Very happy to sit with a glass of bubbly under the Christmas tree while he worked it though!

I was hoping to have a little tute prepared for you to accompany this post but that was serious wishful thinking on my behalf! Working on it nonetheless. And for anyone who fancies a furry head warmer like mine I’ll be posting a pattern and a tute next post, post-haste!

Till then lovely followers, I wish you all the loveliest of wishes; Wrap up warm, keep safe and beware the nutters on the road!  x

handmade fur hat

 

The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby

The Pink Suit book

Every single day, without fail, I’m reminded how wonderful it is to be a part of such a wonderful sewing community. So much more than just sewing. Who knew? Only those of us that are part of it will truly understand. And then, and only then, is when one knows exactly what I’m on about!

Opportunities. Chance meetings. True friendship. Support. Experience. Education. Skills. Not to mention a fabulous wardrobe. And so much more. Tantamount to proper therapy!

And did I mention free gifts? No? Probably because I’d sound like I was only in it for the win! Which I’m not, of course, but one never looks a gifthorse in the mouth, right?!

Now back in April, a certain Little Brown horse contacted me to see if I would like an uncorrected bound proof copy of The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby. Talk about targetting an audience! Er…. like, yes please!!

For those that don’t know, I have freelanced as a designer in the publishing world for more fingers than I can count on which might give the impression that I am well-read. Haha… I wish! I proof read and I skip read and get to read the beginnings of manuscripts but I can not honestly tell you the last time I sat and read a whole real book, all by myself, just for pleasure.

I can’t read as I walk to work. Fear of treading on pigeons or in other unsavoury stuff. My tube journey barely allows enough time to bagsy a seat and get the book out of my bag. After-work hours are filled with schoolwork, catering, chores and some shoe-horned sewing time, obvs. And if I ever attempt to read before bedtime I’ll be asleep before the first para!

But. Given a book with a title like ‘The Pink Suit’. I would make allowances. I would sit in the park in my lunch-half-hour. I would risk taking out a couple of pigeons en route to and from work and I would whip it out at any opportune tube delay or in any waiting room.

I had given up the ghost for a sewing-related book. I’d even considered writing one myself because I couldn’t find any. It could be argued that I didn’t try very hard but that aside and in any case, I am so glad this was my first. And I loved it. Properly loved it. The characters; the setting; the facts and the fiction. For this story is based on the reality surrounding the Pink Suit that was created for the First Lady, Jackie Kennedy by – shock, horror, gasp – an Irish immigrant working from the back room of an American couture house… and not Chanel! That self-same suit that got spattered with the blood of her husband on that fateful day.

You can feel the bouclé, smell it even. You’ll find your self checking your tights for bits of pink fluff and if you’re anything like me, you’ll completely get how obsession and passion runs through every page. And you’ll come to realise that your own passions are far stronger than you think they are.

I’d so love to tell you more but I know how precious and rare this book is for us sewists and I don’t want to ruin your experience.

But what I can tell you is that it wasn’t just a good story. It was a great one in fact. But more than that it was a shed load of inspiration. I drew strength from the main character and worked late into the night on my own projects spurred on by Kate’s enthusiasm. I relished each of the next stitches I made, I refolded and neatened my fabric pile and I planned for future dresses and blouses… and suits!

The only downside to a good book is that it comes to an end. I so didn’t want it to end. I got so sucked in that I felt quite sad as I approached the last pages. First time I’ve ever read a set of acknowledgements too. I was that desperate to hang on to every last word!

I do hope you get as much from this book as I did. And if you do happen to hear of any similar reads, I’d be so grateful to hear from you.

Incidentally, the roses in the photo are care of my lovely milliner friend, Jayne. I popped in to her gallery to ask how she was feeling (she’s been ill for weeks) and yet SHE was the one to give ME the flowers. That’s how lovely she is.

Vintage patterns: 2 new additions

I have just added the following two lovely patterns to my Vintage Pattern Collection page and while at it, couldn’t resist a shout out to the fantabulous Pretty Grievances. I would imagine she hasn’t slipped under your radar but just on the off chance, there you will find some of the most entertaining posts out there! Wednesday Wearables is my most favourite. I’m so glad to have been  Twittering at the right time and place when the lovely Anne announced she was having a clear out. I actually was hopping up and down on my seat and mentally pointing at the sky shouting ‘me, me!’, when this little beauty popped up:

Advance 6702 1950sI don’t think I’d change a thing about this dress. Rather inclined to keep it in blue, too!

As if that wasn’t treat time enough, this Brucey bonus was inside too. I’m assuming 1960s, Just going by the hairstyles. I do love a shirt dress.

Simplicity 4673 1962

And gingham is certainly the way forward with this one. Let’s hope I win Didyoumakethat‘s pink silk taffeta at her Great British Sewing Bee giveaway!! 😉 But get in there quick. You need to enter before 19th April!

So, thank you Anne. I am truly grateful and planning on stealing some sewing real soon xxx