My date with Zandra Rhodes plus a FREE GIVEAWAY to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show 2019!

zandra Rhodes bust

Sometimes life brings you cherries. Or is it lemons? – better still an invite to an intimate audience with Zandra Rhodes! I graciously accepted the latter, of course. It would be rude not to. There then followed the inevitable what-to-wear meltdown.  My wardrobe is basically monochrome. But the tulle skirt and striped Tilly Agnes top served me well. And off I tottered to Bermondsey, South London – home to the London Fashion and Textile museum and Zandra Rhodes Rainbow Penthouse!

Clip-clopping over a jewel-emblazoned  stone floor, overlaid with that iconic wiggle design, I knew I’d arrived at the right place. I took the lift up to the Penthouse. The door opened and the colours were right there – shouting loud. Shouting this is totally Zandra’s pad!

zandra rhodes floor

inside Zandra Rhodes penthouse

And there was Zandra busying around in her gold-tipped pumps, book under one arm, croissant in the other, dressed impeccably in a bright red and pink kimono-wrap jumsuit. The design of which was all hers of course – that iconic lipstick print, still living on from when it was born circa 1968.

zandra rhodes rainbow penthouse interior

Zandra graduated with from the London College of Art with a degree in textile design. She worked hard alongside the likes of Hockney,  Ossie Clark and Warhol. The pop art revolution was very evident in her work

Aside from her successes she talked about her many knock backs. How for instance she approached Sandersons to sell some of her designs. They said her work didn’t sit at all well alongside their typical wallpaper collections. But all the same, purchased a single rose print in support of her, with the prediction that she would either fall flat on her face, or be a huge success. Well its very apparent what happened after that. And Zandra had no intentions of adapting!

zandra Rhodes talking

Zandra talked about process, how she first designs the print and then the  garment design follows on, inspired by that print. She walked over to a silk chiffon dress adorned with another of her iconinc designs – the ruffle print. Edgy romantic boho chic. Right there in the room. Noticeably, she didn’t once call for her assistant to retrieve or pass her anything. She just got up from her seat to show us, herself.  I’m already impressed by this and one of the questions asked, confirmed my thoughts.

What would you say is the secret to the longevity of your career, Zandra?

“Being boringly hardworking” was her exact reply.

This is not entirely a surprise already. She is sharp, witty, down to earth and recalls every major pitstop of her working life to let us know where she came from and how she landed up. So much pride but not a scrap of arrogance, no sense of entitlement, though relishes the title of Dame. And there’s reason behind that relish. She is bemused by how ‘quiet’ British Designers are on the global stage. She truly believes that the UK is home to some of the most talented designers in the world yet they disappear in to the fading archives of our memories.

“Does anyone know of Jean Muir?” she says?

Embarrassingly, I knew the name and had to look her up as soon as I left. How could I not know about this amazing designer hailed as the ‘English Vionnet’?

So I can see how being honoured as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire would help to get the word out! And I am certainly hanging on to Zandra’s every word right now.

On display, were posed some mannequins adorned in Zandra’s vibrant and most signatory creations that hadn’t seen the light of day for many years.

zandra rhodes for spring knitting and stitching show

It was such a privilege to see the black and gold knit dresses from her 1985 Egyptian collection. I love how the chains are worked into the design and the scarab inspired embellishments. On the second mock-wrap dress, the interaction with the stripes and the placement of the graphics is so striking and I would totally wear this today.

zandra rhodes egyptian knit

zandra rhodes egyptian knit

The chosen selection had been preserved in boxes and almost forgotten about until the planning began for her forthcoming retrospective: Zandra: 50 years of fabulous which will be held at the London Fashion and Textile Museum in September.  These were but a few of the exclusive selection that will also be making an appearance at the Spring Knitting and Stitching show 28th February – 3rd March 2019. Have you got your ticket yet? Read on to see how you can win a freebie!

I'm part of the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show

zandra rhodes knitwear

Who have you most enjoyed designing for?

Zandra described the pleated sleeves on the iconic Freddie Mercury outfit as one of her favourites. And the pink off-the-shoulder chiffon dress for Princess Diana. She chuckles at the prospect of a royal coming to visit her studio in Bermondsey for a fitting and describes how she went, garments laid over her arm to the palace!

There are things you have to consider when making dresses for the Royals. For instance Diana was quick to rule out any wrap dresses, claiming that the paparazzi would be waiting outside the car, willing a gust of wind and the ‘perfect shot’!

Is there another Royal you’d like to dress?

“I think Kate. Or Camilla!”

We all agreed that we’d love to see either.

What colour would you choose?

“I have no idea,” Zandra says sharply! (High five to the the no-faff response) And recalls that the original sample dress for Diana was black and shocking pink. “The royals never wear all-black outfits.” she adds.

I never knew that but it makes sense that black garments are reserved for funerals and sombre occasions. The Queen herself is famed for standing out in a crowd in her colourful outfits. And I suppose it makes a reporters job a little easier!

It is around this time that the telephone rings – a loud classic landline tone. Zandra continues talking to us and then with a little irritation says. “Just ignore it. It’s just an emergency line. No one knows that number. If they really want me they’ll call back.” The ringing continues and Zandra asks her assistant to take it off! “I’m not at home!” she yells across the room.

Then her mobile starts ringing.

“Hello?” she answers. “Oh hello darling……”

Zandra on phone

An upbeat and casual conversation continues before us. Plans being made to meet in Brighton. It feels a bit rude to be listening in but it would have been far more rude for the twenty or so of us to up and leave the room!

She signs off. Places the mobile on the table, leans forward to say in a cheeky voice, “I hate to name-drop, but that was Hilary Alexander!”

But you are Zandra Rhodes! I’m thinking.

Back to the questions and some of my favourites:

Do you wear clothes designed by others or do you only ever wear your own?

“I always wear my own. But if on the very odd occasion I do wear a pair of jeans I will paint them to make them my own.” She showed us examples from her book of a painted jacket and jean set. I can’t show you that. I’d have to actually kill you!

I’m inspired already. I painted a design on an outfit once (see here) and I want to do so much more now.

Do you dress up when you are working?

“Oh no. I’ll often wear a tracksuit to work in…”

Zandra in a tracksuit. Trying really hard to compute. Really hard.

“But fully made up and with jewellery of course.”

Phew! Faith restored.

What annoys you?

Interruptions! Constant interruptions and not enough time. There’s always something that stops you getting on with what you actually want to do.

Resonation maximum magnitude… Me too!

And what advice would you give to students or young people starting out?

“Don’t let people put you off. Believe in it enough yourself and the world will follow you. It justifies you in the end if you feel it inside. It might not bring you riches. But work hard and you will be successful.”

I take a big massive gulp of air at this point. Holding on to someones every word could be a sure path to suffocation if there were to be too many! I’ve heard people say this before. But not with such conviction. And certainly not from the mouth of such a wonderfully passionate and iconic 78 year old who claims that she’d hate to have nothing to do and has absolutely no plans on hanging up her tools. In fact secretly I’m pretty sure she’d love us all to bugger off so she can cut some potatoes up for a new print design. And yes she has used potatoes!

zandra rhodes press event

Writing this post and reading it back has left no doubt in my mind just how much of a fix inspiring people and seeing their work gives me. It’s like an injection of energy that gets me wanting to learn, create and explore so many more things. Cue starstruck photo opportunity with Zandra:

zandra rhodes with ooobop

I can’t wait to see the rest of Zandra’s exhibits at the Spring Knitting and Stitching show. And it’s really soon. So who wants to come too?

The Giveaway!

I have 5 pairs of complimentary tickets to give away and to get a chance to win, all you have to do is:

  1. Subscribe to my blog if you’re not already
  2. Leave a comment below and include the words ‘count me in’! Or hop over to follow me @ooobop on Instagram and leave a comment there.

The rules are:

  1. The winners will be drawn at random from an actual hat.
  2. You need to be able to travel to London Olympia for the show
  3. The tickets are valid Thurs 28th Feb: 10am-5.30pm, Fri 1st March: 10am-5.30pm & Sun 3rd March: 10am-5pm (Saturday is excluded)
  4. Giveaway closes at midday GMT on Monday 18th February  and winners will be announced later that day.
  5. Should you win, your postal address will be required so that I can post you the tickets.

Good luck everybody! Hope to see you there. Don’t know about you but I’m off to rifle through the salad drawer!

All views and photos my own and words spoken by Zandra best I can remember.

10 Reasons Not to Miss The Great British Sewing Bee Live plus 5 pairs of tickets – FREE GIVEAWAY!

GBSB live logo

Are you a sewing-obsessed, GBSB fan like me? Do you love fashion and vintage and tailoring and dressmaking… and Paddy?

In case you haven’t been party to this hot piece of sewing news, buzzing around the blogosphere, read on for why you should totally be at the UK’s biggest, most exciting new dressmaking event at ExCel London, 21-24 September this year. I am talking all things Great British Sewing Bee Live… Yes LIVE!

I spent last Tuesday morning at London’s Fashion and Textile museum, in a room full of superstar sewing bloggers, for an intimate audience with the legendary judges of the TV series, Patrick Grant and Esme Young. I know, right?! We’d been invited to hear a little more about what we can expect from this incredible event. And boy are we all in for a treat!

ooobop and didyoumakethat
Karen and I were just a bit excited to meet Patrick and Esme!

An audience with Patrick Grant and Esme Young is underway @fashiontextilemuseum. Fab crowd of colourful #sewing bloggers.

A post shared by Great British Sewing Bee Live (@thegbsblive) on

1. Patrick and Esme will actually be there, in real life, right there before our very own eyes

Contestants from past shows along with the bravest of audience members will take part in challenges live on stage. Jenny Éclair, comedian, writer and TV personality, will be your host and will ensure the nerves and mishaps are glossed over with giggles. What can possibly go wrong?!

Patrick was asked, “Will there be sewing hecklers at the #GBSBLive Super Theatre?

“I hope so” he replied!

To be honest I would buy a ticket just for this alone. But there’s more…

 

Patric Grant and Esme Young

2. Your chance to be a contestant!

Have you watched every episode, longing to be one of the contestants? Then here is your chance!

Click here to complete an application form. You just don’t know unless you have a go!

3. More than a hundred workshops

Hosted by your favourite contestants and other top stitchers and tutors, the hardest part will be choosing. Seriously, make a cuppa and get yourself comfy before clicking this link to all the amazing workshops on offer. The choice is insane!

Incidentally Patrick was asked who his favourite contestant was. He paused, with glint in his eye… he said, “I loved them all!” What a tease! “No one ever left early. It was always about who sewed the best challenge, not who was the best sewer.”

4. Live Demos

There’s a jam-packed programme of live demonstrations from well-known personalities from the world of sewing and dressmaking as well as contestants from the Great British Sewing Bee. You’ll get all the tips and advice you need to get you on your dressmaking journey, whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned professional there will be something for you.

All sessions will be free to attend and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Janome sewing machine workshop gbsb live

5. Dressmaking drop-in clinic

We’ve all got a project or two in that pile of doom and defeat. Dig it out and bring it along to the drop-in clinic where one of our lovely sewing experts will help you to solve your issues and get you back on track.

It’s common knowledge how helpful the sewing community is. And it was really sweet to learn that Esme frequently got a telling off for trying to help contestants on the show! “As a teacher, It’s so difficult to watch people struggling.” Oh how I’d love to have Esme on tap!

6. Fashion Catwalk

From high-end fashion and couture creations to vintage designs, bespoke tailoring and wedding garments, it will be a feast of dressmaking fashion from both independent and larger pattern companies.

There’ll be three shows a day, free to attend on a first come first served basis, along with a daily showcase of garments from leading fashion and textile students.

catwalk gbsb live

7. 200+ (Yes 200+!) dressmaking and sewing suppliers

All your online favourites and more. This is going to be the best shopping trip ever ever ever!!!! Even Esme claims to have the most ridiculous fabric and button stash. She can’t help herself. If it’s beautiful, she just has to have it!

 

8. Garment galleries a plenty for your perusal and delight

This is your chance to get up close and personal with some of those amazing creations from previous shows. There will be a crazy collection of the garments from across the series, including some of the most stunning, the most stand out and frankly the most bizarre designs from the programme.

I wonder if it will include a certain pvc skirt that Patrick sewed for himself… ooops, did I just say that out loud?!

9. The Fashion and Textile Muesem: Liberty in Fashion Exhibition

Dennis Nothdruft (who incidentally Handmade Jane and I met at the Couture Inside Out exhibition and we can therefore advocate as brilliant) has curated a stunning exhibition of Liberty pieces: From romantic, densely patterned garments from the post-war 1930s to the Art Nouveau revival of the 1950s and Swinging 1960s, then Seventies Pastoralism with its characteristic smocking… I’d buy a ticket just for this too!

10. Bloggers delight

Asides from all the magic and mahem, inspiration and excitement of the above I truly believe that this super duper sewing event will also prove to be the best ever blogger meet-up you ever went to, like ever! And if you see me wandering around in a dreamworld, please stop me to say hello. I love nothing more than meeting my readers in real life.

Does any of that lot float your lil boat?

 

Designer and Sewing Bee judge Esme Young said: “Whether you’re a professional tailor or hobby dressmaker, fashion student or vintage fan, there’s something for everyone with a love of sewing, and even complete beginners keen to give it a go.  We hope visitors will leave the show inspired and full of ideas for their next dressmaking project. ”

 

So who’s up for a free pair of tickets then? I have 5 sets up for grabs and you don’t have to do anything more taxing than to subscribe to my blog (top right hand column under the ooobop logo, if you are viewing on a pc, or scroll to the bottom of your phone screen) and then leave a comment below. You have up until Friday 14th July 2017 when the giveaway will close. 5 lucky winners will be announced on Sunday 16th July.

Good luck everyone!!

And don’t forget to hop over to the GBSB Live website for all the latest info.

I’ll leave you with a picture of pure glee. The faces say it all!

See you soon, sewing lovers x

 

And the winner is…

winner classic tailoring techniques for menswear

Congratulations Evie Jones!

Special thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and Fairchild books for providing such a great giveaway prize in association with #Blazerof2016 and thank you to every one who left such lovely comments. I’ve really enjoyed reading about what you are all getting up to. Remember you can still get hold of Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear at Fairchild Books along with a whole host of fabulous fashion books. My copy is already proving to be my best friend already.

In other news I finished a 3rd By Hand London Sabrina dress, yesterday. And it fits! So I’ll be back sometime soon this week, hopefully, with some pictures and a post. Oh I do love a bank holiday!

TTFN x

 

And the winner of the mystery giveaway is . . . !

Before I deliver the news that you’ve all been so patiently waiting for, I must first thank you all so much for your wonderful comments. So many kind and inspirational words. Blushworthy to say the least. And big thank you’s also for the newbies who recently subscribed. A big lovely Oooboppie welcome to you all! 🙂

Ok. Get on with it. I hear you say. Well I guess you should know what was in that mystery black box . . .
giveaway prizeHere it is, in all it’s mysteriousness! The contents of which include:

Burda Magazine, May 2014 issue
Handy service kit for sewing machines and overlockers
3m of novelty London print fabric
2m of polka dot turquoise fabric
3m of black lace
3 spools of Moon thread
3 different coloured pencil chalks

In order to get some fairness and squareness going on, I needed a trusty assistant. And I could think of noone better than Little Miss Ooobop herself. She just got a new haircut so is looking extra cute too!
A little shake of the entries . . .
shaking the entries

A little blindfolded stirring of the entries . . .

blindfolded and stirring the entries

A winner is picked . . .

A winner is picked

And the winner is . . .

and the winner is

Congratulations lovely Simona from Sewing adventures in the attick
The goodies are all yours!

close up winner
I’ll Email you shortly to retrieve a delivery address and will deliver it post-haste!

Self-drafted retro top

retro check top

A couple of months ago, I signed up for a local adult education course to learn how to draft a bodice. The need for a go-to-template is great now. My need to save hours in a day is bigger than ever and so the idea is, that if I have a master block, I won’t have to keep reinventing the wheel, each and every time by having to make alterations to a preprinted bodice pattern. I would also very much like to realise some of these gazillion designs floating around my head and create them for other people too.

The course was cheap. Just £85 for four Saturdays, 10-3. And the teacher was lovely. There were 5 other students at first class and 3 at the last. So we pretty much had one to one teaching for the last session. pattern-drafting tools

To begin, we were instructed to pick a set of body measurements from a table of standardised sizes, that matched closest to our own body measurements. My first furrowing of brow. The whole point of me wanting a custom fit is that I don’t fit standard. Even my shoulders dropped an inch with that first instruction! As is usual for me I just kept shtum. But someone else in the class just couldn’t, and with gusto unabashed, questioned the task out loud! Hoorah for the confident ones!

The teacher assured us it was easier and quicker to go from a standard set of measurements whereby most of the calculations were done already and then make alterations to fit, afterwards.

And so I did as was asked. But the confident one did not! She used her own measurements and although, indeed I finished drafting first, she had a better fitting first toile. Funny, that!

But, with fear of the wind changing, I relaxed my jealous scowl and approached the teacher with questions on how to fit this bodice… that really didn’t fit at all!

She drew on me with red pen. The neckline needed to be made deeper. The side seams taken in; the bust point needed to be moved; the fullness taken out of the bust; the back bodice needed shortening; and the shoulders were too long. Mmmmm…..!

first bodice muslin

OK. Not a problem. In fact quite a few extra lessons in alterations were absorbed in the process so I didn’t feel too robbed.

I made the above adustments and sewed another toile. A better fit but it still needed changes. A third toile and although I knew it still wasn’t perfect. I was determined to draft my actual top and make it before the end of the course. I thought it would be useful to have the teacher hold my way throughout the process. And it was.

I ended up with a completely wearable top. She helped me to draft the collar and showed me how to create the facings. I based the design on a pattern I already owned. Did I just state a distain for reinventing wheels?! There is a method in my madness. I want to be able to create things that I see in pictures, everywhere, armed with a knowledge base of skills to custom fit, rather than have to have a standardised pattern that doesn’t ever fit. And of course this top is a great vintage design and I love it!

self-drafted retro-style top

But there are issues. The underbust is too big and it doesn’t feel perfect enough. In fact it’s true to say that it’s too big all over.

back view of top

 

The material was a cheap soft cotton with quite a loose weave so that probably didn’t help my fitting issues either. But it is comfy!

I added the zipper at the side, in true vintage stylee and owing to the bias cut funnel-like collar that rolls over the back. I also added a shaped extension to the waistline so that I can tuck it in without bulgy lumps round my middle. I usually wear it tucked in with a wide belt but I wanted to show it in full for the post. I’m quite happy with it hanging out too!

retro check top full length

self-drafted top side view

I made another one up last night, with some alterations. I took a little out of the side seam allowance and made the waist darts more concave at the point. There wasn’t much improvement to be honest. In effect I made the best of a bad job and went to bed in a huff!

I am irritated that with all of the alterations that were made in order that this bodice fits, the pattern pieces are really irregularly shaped now. And owing to the massive darts that were removed horizontally from the back pieces (to reduce the excess fabric), I won’t ever be able to pattern match across the back 🙁

There is no way I am going to be beat though. With renewed vigour, I got up early this morning to draft another from scratch. I used my real body measurements along with some armhole standards, and low and behold it was a pretty close match. I just have to make a couple of small amendments. The armhole gapes at the front and there is a bit too much excess over the bust and so I have cut and closed a dart at the armhole on the pattern, to reduce the gape. The mid-armhole at the back gapes a little too, and I have smoothed the excess up to the shoulder, and remarked the shoulder seam to both front and back pieces.

And best of all, with this new draft I get to have a perfectly straight back seam so I can have a continued pattern across the back if I so please, yay!

Wow! this really is a learning curve.

Hope to share some more new Ooobop designs soon. Ones that actually fit! So come back soon and in the meantime, don’t forget to enter the Giveaway if you haven’t done already. Only 3 days to go!

TTFN x

PS. All credit to Mr O, of course, for the lovely photos and a lovely day out with the children on the Southbank

 

Ooobop’s first ever (mystery) GIVEAWAY!

ooobop mystery giveaway

Some of the more beady-eye’d among you will probably have noticed a few changes going on at ooobop Towers! I have been doing some housekeeping… shock, horror, gasp! (Anything to avoid doing the real stuff!) In my inimitable style, it wasn’t broke so I decided to fix it anyway. And in the same way that I’d decorate a room to match the cushion – I needed to rebrand my blog to match my woven garment labels!

WordPress has served me well over the last three years, from my early nervous ramblings to my latter day wafflings. And yes it has been a mighty three years. I can’t quite believe it myself. Especially since my sister-in-law, who knows me pretty well, said ‘You’ll never keep that up’! I’d like to think that she knew me well enough to know how positively I react to a red rag. Contrary? Me?!

But true to the control freak that I will never admit to being, I wanted more control. The designer in me was begging to be fed more layout options; more fonts; more gallery options, maybe even a shop (later on down the line)… and I wanted to be able to see exactly who my lovely followers were. When you only have WordPress stats to go by, you can only see your WordPress followers and not everyone uses the same platform.

And so I’ve gone self-hosted. I can’t say it was pain-free. Importing .xml’s, pretending I know what to do with a .php file and knowing that my DNS was pointing in the wrong direction… not really my bag!

But I got here in the end. Of a fashion. And just like moving a real home there are still some boxes to unpack. Whilst all your wonderful comments came across, the number of comments did not so it looks as though nobody has commented on anything!

And worst of all I have lost all my subscribers. Both WordPress and Email. Silly WordPress.

But in the style of Baldrick, I have a cunning plan!

This new blog refresh, along with a three year anniversary, teamed with my excitement at nearly 1,000 followers on Twitter @ooobop (I can’t quite get my head around that either!) and of course my love for you and all things sewing related…

I am hosting Ooobop’s first ever Giveaway!

“What is it? What is it?” I hear you all chant.

“Well…It’s a mystery!” I reply. (in the style of Toyah Wilcox)

In fact it’s such a mystery, even I don’t know what it is as yet! All I can say is that it will be a truly lovely parcel containing all lovely things, sewing-related.

This is a global giveaway. So it doesn’t matter where you are in the world. I will post.

So if you like surprises and would like to keep up with my sewing adventures plus be in with a chance of a chance of winning this mystery giveaway, all you have to do is subscribe to ooobop, at the top of the right hand side bar, just under the search tool. Or if you prefer, by Bloglovin’ by clicking on the Bloglovin’ lady underneath. Then let me know in a comment, below this post, which method you have chosen and you will be entered for the giveaway. If you are an existing Bloglovin’ follower, please still let me know with a comment below if you want to be entered as this will be my go-to list of entries.

The lucky winner will be ‘drawn from the hat’ on Wednesday 30th April 2014 and announced on Thursday 1st May 2014. Don’t forget to leave a link to your blog or an Email address so that you can be contacted with the good news and so that I can announce your prize-winning success!

Thank you my lovelies, for sticking with me. I always get emosh when I think how much more to blogging there is when you have a blog. So many wonderful friendships, such amazing support and not to mention the plethora of talent that perpetually floods my inbox!

I’m in for the long haul, kids!

Lucky Lucille? Lucky Me!

This post is hugely late but nevertheless essential and heartfelt!

I won a giveaway! Oh yes, oh yes… lucky me indeed!

rochelles bag

Back in November 2012, Tilly held a sewing social on Twitter which was such a hoot! It was here that I met Rochelle and boy was I glad I did. Have you seen her blog, Lucky Lucille? I have no idea how I managed to miss that one. Her styling, her content, her beautiful photography…. not forgetting her adorable loving pupster! I could go on forever or at least until I exhaust the dictionary of gorgeous adjectives but I really think you should have a look for yourself and then add it to your favourites because it deserves to be no place else!

Anyhoos, as if finding her blog wasn’t exciting enough, in December I won a giveaway on the Lucky Lucille blog – in time for my birthday! What a treat!

The packaging was the first delight. I almost didn’t want to open it. Almost, I said. There was only the tiniest hesitation, out of politeness, before I steamed into that package knowing exactly what was inside!

Lucky Lucille packagingWanna see?!

Not only this beautiful hand made bag, made by her own fair hand…

rochelles bag

But also this amazing 40s pattern, Butterick B5281, which I have had my eye on for far too long. I can’t believe I actually have it in my own mitts now. And check out the gorgeous buttons too, as if this wasn’t spoilt behaviour enough!

butterick b5281 and buttons

I am so huuuuugely grateful Rochelle, not just for this amazingly generous giveaway gift, but for the absolute joy your blog brings!

Now go people, GO… check it out… but mind you don’t drool on your keyboard!