Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear: book review and Giveaway!

classic tailoring techniques for menswear

Today I would like to share a review of a great book that is already my best friend and bible for #Blazerof2016. The lovely people of Bloomsbury Publishing have not only sponsored me this fabulous book but have also sent an extra copy for one other lucky reader!

The title of the book is Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear: A Construction Guide. And this is the 2nd edition written by Roberto Cabrera and Denis Antoine since it first published in 1983.

My bookshelves are home to all sorts of sewing literature but when it came to ventures in proper tailoring techniques, none of them books scratched that itch, if you know what I mean.

I am a woman on a mission with a man’s jacket to make before June is out. Jamie has already completed his stunning plaid blazer and panic was beginning to set in fast. But now I have my trusty guide I feel the journey will be easier.

If ever I was doubting the ‘why’ of tailoring, the short and concise intro reassures the reader of the unsurpassable techniques over faster more modern ways to achieve that impeccable finish. It gives a brief but insightful history that inspires a preparation for a very slow but satisfying journey ahead!

classic tailoring for menswear intro

The contents include the following chapters: Tailoring; The Pattern; The Fit; The Fabric; Layout and Cutting; The Jacket; The Pants; The Vest; and Alterations.

There then follows an extended table of contents which allows the reader to go straight to the finer points within each chapter. The Jacket is clearly my primary concern and so when I come to pockets, I now have all the necessary information to create a welt, cash, patch, double-piped or double-piped pocket with flap should I choose to add one… or all of them!

As a book designer myself I’m very particular about presentation and I am a stickler for levels of information. So I’m very happy to report that I found the inside layout to be very clean and concise. The font is classic and unfussy, a good size with comfortable space and set in good readable chunks.

I must admit, at first I was disappointed by the black and white photography. It does appear take away some visual interest but on further inspection, all becomes very apparent. The hand-stitches which are crucial to the tailoring process along with other key marked areas are highlighted in red against the greyscale photography and therefore are easily recognised without distraction. It’s a more sophisticated approach than the sole use of line-drawn illustrations and diagrams which can sometimes be too graphic and disassociated with the real thing. Colour photography would have looked lovely – especially to see some of those coloured tweedy fibres – but style over substance would have been useless in this instance. I’m after good, clear and immediate instruction and this is what this book delivers.

The reality of the photography delivers on other levels too: you can identify the lay of the fabric, how it ripples, how it rolls, how it behaves. You’d never get that across with any amount of linework!

That said. This book also displays some fine line drawings which hone in on the tiniest details.

All the tailoring and understructure supplies you will need are clearly listed and defined along with necessary techniques and hand-stitches. And there is a  very well explained section on how to take measurements. The repeated photo of the man in white pants is a little distracting but as I mentioned before, far more preferable to a line drawing. It’s easier to see exactly where on the body those measurements should be taken. Nothing left to the imagination here!

classic tailoring taking measurements

And fitting is obviously a major part of the process. This section does good to address posture and body imbalance and how to identify the issues. I’m focussing on the jacket here and where wide shoulders and a stooped posture adjustment might come in dead handy, but should I venture into tailoring trousers in the future I’ll be ready for any amount of bow-legs, knock-knees and flat bottoms!

There is brief but great insight into the world of wool fabrics that are used in tailoring. The weights, the textures and the usages; naps, shrinkage and how to straighten a grain. This section may have benefitted from some colour just to see those checks and stripes pop, but again. It’s just the information I need. I can go see and stroke any amount of fabrics up the Goldhawk Road for that kind of fix!

Laying and Cutting Out covers exactly how the professionals do it. Great to see the hands at work and of course a vital section on matching plaids/checks and stripes.

classic tailoring for menswear

When I got to the Jacket section I was a bit overwhelmed. So much stuff to learn. But that is the whole point. I want to learn. And I want to have reference to it all. I want to get good at this and there is no fast track way. Just slowly and properly and remembering to enjoy each little step-by-step instruction. I’m really looking forward to making some shoulder pads. There’s a great how-to with a pattern at the back of the book. Incidentally there are also traceable patterns included for a French fly and a French tab and some other elements that I’m not going to pretend I know what they are yet!

The Trousers and Waistcoat sections are just as detailed. Covering the classic tailored processes for each stage. No stone unturned, it would seem.

The final section covers Alterations, which will prove invaluable if I ever I fancied some more unselfish sewing further down the line. And already I am inspired to pick up on the advice for relining a jacket. Something I have been putting off for so long (see this Boer War jacket). It is so simply and brilliantly explained that it makes me feel daft for every doubting my capabilities! And if you ever need to alter a pair of trousers for the man who has muscular inner thighs, look no further.

In fact, it’s all there: what you need, and what exactly you need to do to achieve each stage of a perfectly classic tailored jacket, waistcoat or pair of trousers. Brilliantly presented and clearly explained… in black and white (and red)!

If this little review of Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear has whetted your appetite, click here to be taken to Fairchild Books – an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing– where you can buy one for yourself and peruse all the other amazing fashion titles they have on offer.

Or if you fancy winning yourself a FREE copy, simply leave a comment below and let me know how you are getting on with #Blazerof2016 or indeed any other tailored garment you have plans for. Entries will be drawn on 30th April and the winner announced on 1st May 2016. It really is a fabulous prize – good luck!

Both the review and the giveaway copyies of Classic Taloring Techniques for Menswear were kindly given to me free of charge by Bloomsbury Publishing. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

#Blazerof2016: The first toile

blazerof2016 toile front

Welcome to life in the slow lane and my first toile for Mr O’s #Blazerof2016. As anticipated in my last update, the instructions were indeed minimal, which is ok if you’ve done this kind of thing before but I haven’t! When I look at the finished toile I’m wondering what I found so difficult – time is a healer I guess!

It was wholly necessary to make a toile. I already knew the largest size of the pattern wouldn’t be big enough but there was a method in my madness. I wanted to test the construction more than anything and didn’t want to waste time making any preliminary changes to the pattern. Now that it’s made and the process understood I can see exactly what I need to do. I can also see some issues that will need further investigation.

First thing I will need to do is to grade it up a whole size. I will use the traditional cut and spread method. The sleeves need some extra room at the bicep (That news was met with a wry smile!) and I may also need to lengthen the sleeves but that will be confirmed once the 2nd toile is made and the shoulder pads are factored in.

The thing that surprised me most about this design was the lining. Fundamentally, there isn’t much of one but it is a summer blazer so it can be forgiven for half measures! there is a kind of butterfly section that overlaps on the inside back, joining the front facings around the armholes, if that makes sense.
blazerof2016 toile lining

A fine excuse to choose some fun lining fabric I think. The sleeves will be fully lined and the remaining exposed seams finished with binding. Might be nice to make some custom binding to match the butterfly lining. I’m not sure that’s what it’s technically called by the way!

I was a bit concerned about the sleeve caps. There seemed to be more gathering and less ease involved here. Then I read Male Devon Sewing’s post on setting in sleeves where he advises to steam-shrink the eased area of the sleeve caps before sewing in. That will help on the real deal, I’m sure. I’ll see what happens 2nd time round before I properly address this but I may also need to start and finish the ease stitches slightly further apart.

puckers on the sleeve cap

The assembly of the collar and collar stand properly had me confused. I really couldn’t make sense of sewing two concave seams together. But it makes sense now that it adds the roundy shape. The black stitching is where the pressed open joining seam will be topstitched.

back collar up

The topstitching wont be seen in any case once the collar is folded down. Thinking I should use some red melton or similar for the collar stand. It seems to be a feature on some of Mr O’s other jackets. That wont be seen much of either of course. But the joy of knowing it is under there excites me a little bit already!

back collar folded down

The one construction instruction that still didn’t translate was attaching the collar to the lapel. The instructions said to sew all round the edge of the collar to a point, trim and turn right side out. It allows nothing to sink into the top of the lapel seam so unless I find instructions somewhere else, I’m going to stop the stitching further back so I can insert the whole 1.5cm seam allowance of the collar, snuggly in place. You can see in the picture below where I’ve unpicked the stitches already to see if that would work.

collar notch

Burda gives no clue as to how I line the vents on the sleeve cuffs but luckily I read up about ‘fake’ vents on sleeves and so there’ll be no unnecessary fiddlesome lining going on here, hooray!

I’ve enjoyed the process of making a toile, especially getting to write notes all over it so I know what to change and what to remember next time. And I’ve learned so much already, before I’ve even started on the real thing!

So now I’m all set to do some cutting and spreading and will be back with a 2nd toile soon.

While you’re waiting for me, do hop over to see some of Male Devon Sewing‘s amazingly detailed posts for #Blazerof2016. They really are very helpful.

 

#Blazer of 2016: Potential Patterns

blazer of 2016

Thank you so much to everyone for your lovely words of support for #Blazerof2016 and especially to those who have signed up. And for anyone who’s teetering on the edge of joining in there’s still bags of time!

Typically my working-week has been busier than expected and there’s been no room for sewing but I did manage a little recce of potential sewing patterns that I’d like to share with you. Don’t hold your breath though. It won’t take long!

This little scout round the web – and to be fair, it was a little scout – has had some surprising results. When MaleDevonSewing suggested that menswear only represented 6% of sewing patterns, he wasn’t exaggerating!

Searching through the contemporary and classics of the Big 4‘s, this is all I came up with:

 

Burda 6813
Source: Jaycotts

 

Burda 6872
Source: Jaycotts

 

Burda 7194 Mans jacket
Source: Jaycotts

 

Burda 7046 Mans blazer
Source: Jaycotts

 

Burda 6993 mans jacket
Source: Jaycotts
Kwik Sew 3485
Source: Jaycotts

 

Vogue 8719 mans jacket
Source: John Lewis

 

Vogue 8988 jacket
Source: John Lewis

Of course there are only so many variations a man’s jacket might display, for example: the pockets, the lapel shape, the vent, if any, button cuffs or not, lined or not etc. No Westwood meeting McQueen with crazy shoulder shapes and asymmetric cross body lapels but that’s ok. We’ll make it interesting in our own way, right?!

So Burda gets the prize not just for the most patterns found but also for their jacket patterns featured in this month’s Burda Style magazine. What were the chances of that?

 

Patterns found in Burdastyle 2/2016
Patterns found in Burdastyle 2/2016

 

How are you getting on with your pattern searching? Have you found any designs by independent sewing pattern companies or have you gone vintage? There certainly seems to be more of those floating around. However, Mr O has a broader chest than most of those 50’s men it seems, hence my Big4 search. But to be fair, to find anything larger than a 44 chest in a modern day pattern is pretty rare too, it seems. Unfairly represented in more ways than one, then!

I think I’ll be going with the pattern on the left hand page of Burda Style magazine. I’m a bit nervous of the minimal instructions but I’ll be calling Jamie to the rescue if I get stuck! So calico at the ready I hope to be tracing and toiling sometime soon.

 

Sew Menswear: Blazer of 2016!

blazer of 2016

It’s amazing where a bit of Tweeting lands you up.

Not for the first time, I recently made friends with another great sewing blogger, Jamie from Male Devon Sewing. He tweeted for suggestions on what he should make next and I cheekily replied that he should make a man’s blazer so I could watch his every move and pick up all his tips! He liked the idea of making a summer jacket and I was genuinely looking forward to watching his every step but then the sewing-table turned and Jamie suggested we have a Blazer-off of sorts! Me and my big mouth!

Mr O has been begging me to make him a blazer for absolutely ages and if I’m honest, I’ve been plain terrified of not being able to follow it through! And if I’m really honest there’s a bit of selfish in me that would rather be making me another (easy) dress!

McQeen Feather print blazer
Source: upscalehype.com

But what am I actually terrified of?  Why would it be so much different to sew than ladies wear? I’ve made a jacket for me before, not the best of fitting and the stripes don’t line up on the shoulders but it’s a jacket all the same and I’m sure I could rectify those issues with a bit of care and attention. And If I didn’t, would it really be the end of the world?

Jamie and I put heads together and supposed because of a lack of menswear being sewn out there that there might just be a fair few of you also fearing how difficult it might be or maybe you’re just plain uninspired. Let’s face it, there’s not much in the way of menswear patterns compared to the plethora of womens’ out here. Like 6% apparently! And so #Blazerof2016 was born as a kick up the butt, so to speak to inject some much needed inspiration and promote a growth in the sewing of menswear!

Quadrophenia style blazer
Source: Bespoke Suit

Although I’ve been sewing for a few years, this is something that is definitely lacking in my repertoire so I’ll definitely be learning on the job, sharing all that I learn along the way. And if you check out Jamie’s jackets you’d be forgiven for thinking he has heaps of experience but he literally only sewed his first jacket a year ago! So we can all hold hands together – and steal all Jamie’s tips! By using the hashtag, #Blazerof2016 and tagging @ooobop and @maledeveonsewing on Twitter we can put out pleas for help as well as posting tips and progress photos. Nothing like a dive into the deep end, hey?!

Make one for your fella, your dad, your best mate, your brother or your son. Lets do it. Lets make someone’s day, add some more skills to our toolbox, encourage more sewing of menswear and more than anything, lets have some fun. Pinstripe, tweed or floral . . . let’s go crazy with colour and print. It doesn’t have to be boring! We’ll be regularly posting inspirational photos and techniques along the way so stay tuned for tailoring fun!

clue check blazer
source: alux.com

We have a good six months before submission day which is good for me because, like most things, I’m going to have to do this outside of work and children! I’ll do my best to blog as many stages of mine as I can and I’ll encourage you to do the same so we can show everyone how cool and satisfying it is to sew a fabulous piece of menswear.

So who’s up for joining us on our quest to scatter some menswear among the dresses of the sewing community? The rules are simple:

  • Make a Man’s blazer/jacket using any pattern of your choice, or draft your own, it MUST be a piece of menswear though!
  • Your choice of fabric suitable for a jacket.
  • Can be fully lined, part lined or unlined (although if unlined the seams need to be suitably finished).
  • Must have some sort of pockets (your choice again: Patch, Flap, Welt).
  • Your choice of vent at the back, either single or double.
  • Your choice to have opening/buttoned cuffs.
  • Jacket to be completed by June.

Please note this is not a scheduled sewalong. This challenge should you choose to accept, is to be completed in your own way, at your own pace, within the 6 months allowed of course.

Leave a comment below with either me or Jamie so we can see who’s in and please add the badge to your blog to spread the word.

blazer or 2016

I’m off to study patterns. Good luck every one!

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

ooobop review: Burda Style March 2015

Burda Style March 2015 cover

Can you feel that spring sunshine, desperately trying to squeeze though your bedroom window in the morning? Well if that isn’t happening, the March 2015 issue of Burda Style magazine will do it’s best to brighten your days.

There’s some lively goings-on this month, with all sorts of asymmetric, geometrical, hankerchief-hemmed and draped goodness!

Beach Pearls sets some scenes for a summer wardrobe: I just love that maxi dress (A). It’s not dissimilar to the viscose jersey one I made here, but the bust detail is right on the money! A lot more support I would think and what a flattering silhouette!.

beach pearls burda march 2015

It also translates into a lovely strappy top (B).

Now I like where the asymmetrical skirt (C) is coming from but not quite where it landed up! Way too much like a sack tied round the middle for me. Further on it is redeemed with some better styling, I can assure you.

Nice Jumpsuit (C), btw. If jumpsuits are your thing. You might want to add some ‘fashion tape’ to the list of required notions, though. Click here: Hollywood Fashion Tape if you’re interested in buying any from Amazon!

Flared trouser suits (E)? mmm…and bat wing empire-lines (F)? double mmm… Lets move on to the shirtwaist dress with ‘maxitail in the right seam’ (G). I do like that. And I love the biker-meets-Mao jacket too (H)!

Uh oh. There’s that batwing-empire-line again (I). Swiftly moving on to the Flowers and Stripes section!

Flowers and stripes burda style march 2015

I’ve never made or owned a pair of culottes (A). But I bet they’re a far safer than a full skirt on a windy day. And looks lovely in a largish print. If you like that sort of thing.

And there’s that shirt-waist dress (B) again with ‘cut-on-dipped hem’ like last time! It would be better to use a fabric that has a reverse as good as the good side, I would have thought.

Look how that lovely maxi translates to a cute beach dress too (C).

This month features a chic wrap dress (D). There is some assurance of a button at the side and concealed snap fasteners to keep the wrap in place. Potential for a Bucks Fizz moment there!

The peasant top addict in me (see two of them here and here) is quite drawn to this ‘relaxed tunic’ (E)! Would need a fine drapey jersey to pull off with any sophistication I would have thought.

And there’s some more geometric delight in the shape of a simple v-neck dress with symmetrical ‘cut-on tails’ (F)!

Any weddings occurring this year? Loving both these bridal party dresses (A) in The Big Day section.

The Big Day Burda March 2015

The bride’s dress (B) is the same as (A) with a flowy underskirt of crêpe chiffon. That’s if you haven’t been put off by the chiffon adventures in The Great British Sewing Bee recent episode.

Can’t help thinking this dress (C) is a bit cake-like with all the tiers an’ all.

And although I usually embrace a bit of invention, I still wouldn’t want to look like I’d been dragged behind the wedding car, en-route in this dress (D)!

This fairytale dress (E) is far simpler and much more sophisticated though. Just get rid of the batwing-empire-maid who’s ruining the photo!

Oh this is much better (F). Lovely wide-dipped hem again. Bust darts for shape. Cotton lace overlay, crepe satin underlay. I’d wear it with cowboy boots. Or even DM’s. Or is that just the hippy in me?!

Now there’s that asymmetric skirt again (centre, G), styled much more favourably with a gorgeous jacket: standing collar and 50s style winged lapels. See, it does have potential to work. Nice suit on the right too!

I’ve picked out the following three from the Reader Favourites section:

reader favourites burda march 2015

Jumpsuit (A) made short for all you lovely long-legged people!

Lovely floor-length dress (B) in striped jersey with side slits and a ‘hankerchief hem’. I can definitely feel some more maxi’s coming on this year.

And a cute little dress (C) based on the short lace wedding party dress design. Not my cuppa tea fabric-wise, but I’m always sold on a midriff piece!

Not overly inspired by the plus section this month I’m afraid, though the trench coat is rather amazing, I must say.

plus size trench coat burda march 2015

But, there is cuteness for small people at the back.

Childrens section burda style march 2015

The best design and the garment most fitting to the Colour Splash section by far, is the paint-spattered dress (A) with tying bands that resemble the sleeves of another garment. Hands up who wants an adult version? Genius!

ooobop! review: Burda Style December 2014

Burda Style Magazine December 2014 issue
Over the last few months I’ve been having a spot of bother getting a copy of my favourite mag from my local WHSmiths. Well from any Smiths actually. They are getting slack in their orders of big quantities or sometimes any orders at all!

But last month and this month, I decided to order it from an online newsagent and I think this is the way forward for me. It costs an extra £1.60 for post but I get notification of it’s arrival date and it is delivered within 2 days. I love the sound of the thud of the post landing on the mat and I certainly don’t miss the queues to the awful automated cash desks at Smiths!!

So here we are. Although not overly festive. But that’s ok.

The opening section, although very monochrome displays some lovely structure with a touch of shimmer.

Burdastyle December 2014 art deco section

A: Described as a long blazer but I think more a classy occasional coat. I love the asymmetry and I’ve seen some gorgeous silk-like viscose fabric that would work amazingly well. Could really do with one of these. I don’t have any party outer-layers! Burda suggests it could be a mini dress too.

B: I didn’t join the ‘peplum gang’ when they first got fashionable. But I might be persuaded by this one. I really line the clean lines of this top. It’s got a midriff that has sold me and I like the slit at the neckline.

C: A classic sparkly sequin jacket. But not for me I’m afraid. Too shapeless. Too scratchy. And I can just imagine all the cat fluff that would get stuck around the sequins!

D: Quite like this dress. Very classic and very flattering. It’s actually an extension of top B. But I would question that choice of fabric. Impossible to pattern match and so the optical illusion draws attention to a pokey out belly even when the model doubtfully has one!

E: Probably not that clear from this little pic but this is a sparkly turtle neck top with blouson sleeves and a lovely wide cuff. Love the silhouette and for me it’s a perfect work to night out top. There’s a tute to help the process. This one’s on the list!

F: There’s that peplum again! I’m not that enamoured with it but I like the idea of mashing some interesting fabrics together: Pinstripe suiting, lace and embroidered something!

G: This is a great skirt. The fabric choice is stunning. Graphic and structured. You can’t really see the detail but involves a hip yoke and a deep pleat at the centre front.

H: This outfit isn’t my thing. I don’t like the silhouette. I don’t do culottes or drawstring waists. Not on the list!

I: This lacy top looks so pretty in the picture. You’d never be sold by the line drawing. It looks really wide and strange but the draping effect is a winner.

The next section gets some red in with some festive flair!

There’s some cute little girls garments here but only up to age 10. LMO is 10 but wearing age 14 clothes so as much as I’d like to make her coat B, I’ll have to sort my grading skills out or just admire them on the page.

Burda december 2014 festive flair

A: Lovely simple dress with a structured skirt and a petticoat underneath. None too girly but still with a pretty fitted silhouette.

B: Double breasted child’s coat with cute peter pan collar. Sewn up in top notch wool it is truly a classic forever coat. Well at least the child grows out of it! I think I like the grown up dress too. Love the simplicity, the red, the deep pleat and the neckline. But the sleeves are worrying me. They look kind of too big at the top.

C: A raglan blouse (or peasant top in my book!) and an extended version as a dress. Like both. And they would be very simple to make for presents. Don’t have to be too precise with the sizing either.

D: Scarf blouse and skirt with ties says it all. Too much flounce for me. They are both made in crepe too. Maybe that’s what is putting me off asides from the dipped pink and coral combo all clingy like that. Proper girly Christmas wrapping!

E: But just in case that scarf business appeals, here’s another variation on a dress with longer ties to tie in two places. Genius. But not on the list!

F: I think this is the same little girls dress as A but without sleeves. I don’t mind mums semi fitted brocade number but it does look a tad mumsy at that length to be honest.

G: They lost me at ‘loose cut’! And drawstring!

H: Boxy jackets always look good on children! The simplicity of the style can make way for some statement fabric.

A departure from girly to freestyle. Some very interesting fabric combos. And I like that.

Burdastyle December 2014 Free Style

 A: Hopefully you can just about make out the giant underbust fringe! It’s a maxi top sewn in a crushed jersey knit with an asymmetrical draped collar. I don’t wear strides but if ever I did I may have to pair up with one of these. Just because!

B: This is indeed a master piece! Military made beautiful. Slightly fitted wool coat with trumpet sleeves, asymmetric collar and buttoning. And that gorgeous design you can see up one side is appliquéd lace no less. I’m still revelling in my coat from February but I can totes see myself in this. Maybe next year!

C: Described as a bell skirt. Nothing much to see here but some lovely overlaid fabric and trim has planted some seeds for sure.

D: Gotta love a cape. Proper sturdy one too. I do want a cape but not this one with its belts and panels and epaulettes. It looks a bit overly involved for me. Don’t dislike it though.

E: There’s that top again. Same as E in the first section but in a totally different fabric. Making it more jumper than blouse for a more casual approach. You wont be able to see from the little pic but the seams are ‘outwardly open’! Why? Imagine how irritating when everyone and their aunt asks if your top is inside out!

F: In interesting patched shirt using patched stretch jersey, stretch faux leather and wool. You could use any kind of combo but I’m finding this all a bit too much. I do very much like the leathery sleeves though. The skirt looks more interesting than the pencil skirt it is but even though it is relatively straight I think that top needs to be worn with a much less interfering bottom half!

G: Pretty sure this is repeated from the festive section but I love how much more retro it appears with a shorter hemline.

H: Tube dress with rolled collar in a stretch knit lace. Great on the right bod. But not on mine!

I: I like this dress. Lovely defined bodice and flouncy skirt in an overlaid lace tulle. Sold on the colour too. Eliminates girly girly and makes it more day time. I can’t decide whether I like the sporty grosgrain straps or not. Actually I do!

J: I’ve been thinking of a poncho. Not like the one my mum made me wear in the 70s but something understated like this one. In truth I’m being lazy so as not to have to get involved in a cape! Its just a rectangle with minimal sewing, yay!

Burda’s designer pattern this month comes with a nod to Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. I love these little insights into the lives of designers. JC professes to be inspired by love andcuriosity. I like that! Just as much as I like this straight cut mini-dress with its massive pocket details and topstitched standing collar. burda december 2014 JC de castelbajac dress

I’ve made pj bottoms for 3 other members of my family but never for myself. It’s just occurred to me that I’ve got the most raggedy selection of nightwear and that things must change. Here’s some pretty things and one seriously crazy pair of pj bottoms!

Burda december 2014 nightwear

 A: Cutesy bustier and French knicker set. Piping, ruffles the lot!

B: Isn’t the idea of a boyfriend shirt that you just nick one off your boyfriend? I’m not sure I can afford to invest that much time into making a proper nightshirt. Piped collar, inverted back pleat, button placket, breast pocket with embroidered monogram and inseam pockets too!

C: Lovely little ballerina slippers. Could be a lovely little Christmas present perhaps.

D&E: A traditional set of pjs. What’s not to like? Love the cool crisp blue.

F: This is a knitted coat and I want it! I don’t want to knit it though. I’d be bored of it before I finished it, I’m that slow. But I’m sure someone out there would love to whip this up.

G: And theres those crazy palazzo trouser pjs! Can’t do those. I’d get myself in a pickle for sure.

H: Camisole and French knickers. Now you’re talking. Maybe this is my Christmas present to me!

I: This nightdress is pretty too. Ruffles top and bottom are a bit cake-like for me but I like the elasticated empire line.

As is traditional, it’s the plus fashions that bring the party to the fore.

Burda December 2014 plus fashion

A: Long jacket and pencil skirt. A classy pairing. The jacket comes with an optional belt but I’d leave that out unless you want the dressing gown look!

B: Low cut V-neck tunic top. I love the contrasting black band around the neckline. Very feminine and perfect with pencils and skinnies.

C: Bit odd this ‘volant’ tunic. Burda’s word not mine! Longer at the back than the front with ruffly bits. Not really my cup of tea.

D: Described as a peplum dress but someone more sophisticated than that I feel by the way that the centre point extends. Very jewel-like indeed. I’m not keen on the colours but greens and blues would do it for me. Or blacks and reds! A lot of precision sewing though. Only for the more patient among us!

E: Ah! There’s that long jacket with the belt. See.

F: Can’t make my mind up about this skirt. Its fundamentally a pencil with satin bands that run down the back. Apparently they make the bottom look slimmer. Are big butts out now then?

G: In the right drapey material this tunic dress would be gorgeous. I’d prefer not to look like a galaxy but I do like the contrast of the black bands and a busy print.

H: This colour-blocked peplum blouse is a no from me. Too much like hard work. Too much going on in such a small space. But I bet somewhere out there, there is a quilter who is itching to get going on it!!

Well that just about wraps things up. I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek. I failed in every way to make this a shorter exercise but no regrets. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the time to look closer at each garment. And of course it always makes for a great record to come back to.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend x

 

Sewing Bloggers and Gaultier – The Perfect Rescue Remedy!

Anyone else bumbling through the school holidays? I’m quite exhausted to be honest. Don’t get me wrong. It’s lovely to see more of the children but trying to work full time and juggle child-share has had me a bit frayed around the edges this year. No holiday plans has meant no proper stretch of time off and though I’m quite used to that, I’m really not used to being so knacked that I don’t have head space to sew or even think about what I want to sew. Robbed of inspiration, I was. Until this weekend that is!

I’d almost clean forgotten that Roisin had planted a seed to go to the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican on Saturday. So following a Tweeted nudge, I booked that there ticket along with a voucher for a cocktail. Well, it would have been rude not to!

The day began with an assembly and fashion parade of beautiful sewists at Goldhawk Road, of course. Emmie, Roisin, Amy, Marie, Katie, Jen and a lovely chance, fancy-seeing-you-here type meeting with Alana too! I usually arrive with a handbag and a relative amount of restraint when it comes to shopping in the Goldhawk Road. I live so near and my stash is so ridiculous that I can only justify purchases for immediate plans. And I actually have some of those, now, funnily enough.

Last week, Anne from Mercury Handmade so very sweetly sent me the August issue of Burda Style magazine which I tried so hard to get hold of and failed miserably. WHSmiths could offer no reason why they just weren’t delivered and then just when I’d given up Anne Tweeted that she had a spare and would I like one? What an absolute Angel! of course I would! And If that wasn’t enough she’d enclosed two gorgeous vintage patterns for me as a surprise. She is such a kind and generous lady and spookily knows exactly what I love.

vintage patterns tops

So I bought some fabric. I’m thinking the red leopard print and or the lighthouses for the wrap blouse. I’ll need something more drapey for the tie blouse. Oh, and I bought some shoe fabric, just because!!

fabric for blouse

The next three hours sped by and then we were en route to the Barbican for some divine inspiration!

We were greeted at the entrance by some iconic breton stripes and some freaky blinking mannequins! The live expressions were projected onto the faces of the otherwise static dummies. Quite distracting at first as we were more focussed on the faces than the garments. You get the idea from the pic below:

blinking mannequins

 

Gaulier crop top

But not for long. The outrageousness of the designs increased and the freaky faces paled into insignificance!

gaultier dogtooth allover

I shamefully realised how little I knew about this incredible man.

He was self-taught and got his foot in the fashion door by sending some of his sketches to Pierre Cardin. (Best I invest in a new Fashionary book!!) This exhibition starred 165 of his amazing garments spanning 40 years of his work

His very own first collection was released in 1976 and soon earned him the title ‘enfant terrible’ of French fashion. Street fashion was dominant throughout but the couture pieces were nonetheless exquisite and edgy at the same time.

I still have no idea why the man-skirt never took off. Teamed with some serious boots and those iconic stripes of course. Such a great look and one I’d be happy to wear today too!

Gaultier kilt

Of course there was a fine selection of construction corsetry and some incredible leather cage designs that I would so love to replicate if I even knew where to start!

Gaultier leather cage

I just love the shape of this coat and I marvelled at the gazillion green feathers that incidentally look as though they were hot-glued to the lining. Kind of puts the couture classification into question, don’t ya think? Or is that allowed?

Gaultier feathered coat

And check out this ‘pinstripe’ dress, which on closer inspection transpires to have thousands of mother of pearl buttons sandwiched in between pleats and encrusting the cuffs!

Gaultier mother pearl button dress

Gaultier button cuffs

I love a bit of contradiction. A spot of rule breaking. Rebellion even! A bit Like here where recycled camo is patchworked to a ball gown, complete with fishtail and adorned with dripping glass beads. Perfect.

Gaultier camo ballgown

And a clash of the tartans. Proper rule breaking. Love it!

gaultier tartan clash

But my favourite piece which has stuck in my head and clearly wont leave until I blatantly copy it, is the yellow tartan jacket with its wonderful sculpted lampshade silhouette. I was so desperate to touch but just knew I’d set of an alarm so I gently encouraged Roisin to stick her head up and see what was going on. She kindly obliged but alas the lining hid all!

gaultier yellow tartan jacketWe loved the pan-scourer/tin-can jewellery. And a further use for all your perfume packaging! There was even a shiny tea-strainer on the belt!

Gaultier jewelery

Of course there was the famous cone corset for Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour of 1990 and also the amazing nude sequinned suit modelled so beautifully by Naomi Campbell but I still haven’t learned to turn off my data roaming and so my stupid i-phone ran out of juice at the crucial exhibits!!

The exhibition reflected his genius talent and humour at the same time without dropping an ounce of style. Though humour was evident by his starring role in 90’s Eurotrash. I loved that!

Two floors and 165 garments examined and discussed, we made way to the Gin Joint. Yes that’s right. A bar purely dedicated to gin. In the same building, with a great view and a menu of gins longer than both my arms! We had time to kill, you see. At least half an hour before the Gaultier Bar opened and where our cocktail voucher was valid. But there were no complaints. Just lots of ooos and arrs and a table full of pretty coloured gins! So enamoured by this place, that we came straight back for more after our cocktail, for truffle mac cheese… and another gin, bien sûr!

And it can’t go unmentioned that I now have taken ownership of the best loyalty card evs!!

Gin Joint Loyalty card

Alas the last day for John Paul Gaultier at the London Barbican is today, 25th August so if you are London-based and not shaking your tail feathers at Notting Hill Carnival, I advise it as the best place to keep out of the rain today . I’m just so grateful for Roisin for giving us the heads up in time and organising such a wonderful day which has totally inspired me to get back on that sewing horse and do what I love most. Thank you lovely lady. Thank you Anne and thanks to all you gorgeous sewing bloggers who make me tick!!

My Vintage Dreamcoat!

My vintage Dreamcoat

And so I present the focus of all my dreams since first bidding all my hard-earned pennies pounds on vintage Butterick 547. It’s taken nearly seven months to realise the nagging vision that was persistent even throughout my busiest months.

At least 2 of the 7 months, were taken up with searching for the ideal fabric. Quite incredible seeing as I’m a stone’s throw from the Goldhawk Road. I watched London folk on a daily basis, as they paraded their neutral tones around town, and that was inspiration enough to fuel a rebellious approach and lead me to an online supplier of ‘quality coating fabric’ – Fabric Dreams. Of all the samples I requested (which were incidentally free of charge and free of postage!) this non-wool, fabric was my favourite. I confused myself with this choice at first believing a quality coat must be in wool. But I went with gut and gut came good!

vintage Butterick 547

The hardest bit about the construction was having enough space to lay out the pieces. They were huge. I knew I was going to have to lob off the usual 4 inches from the bottom but I wanted to construct the original length in case I had a later moment of maxi-madness!

vintage coat butterick 547

This coat was seriously made in hourly bursts. If I had no hours left at the end of the day, sleep was stolen. I could not have done it any other way. Full time freelanceness which often runs into the evenings, with school runs and domestic chores to boot, means little or no time to sew. But UK weather waits for no seamstress and I was seriously going to freeze my butt off unless I got a wriggle on. Good enough motivation wouldn’t you say?!

vintage coat B547

The only issue with working in hundreds of little shifts is that I probably spend as much time getting stuff out and putting it away as I do on actual sewing time. But hey ho. Got there in the end. I really must stop dreaming about one of the children’s bedrooms being a sewing room. Terrible mother!

vintage dreamcoat

I interrupt this post to big up my amazing and wonderful bestest friend and boyf in the whole world, Daniel. I swear this coat wouldn’t look half as good if it wasn’t for his amazing photography skillz! I owe him so many waistcoats, it’s untrue!!

The other great thing about him being chief Ooobop photographer, is that we get to mooch around London together finding lovely locations. Today was mostly the British Museum. Feel like a bit of a fraud for not actually looking at one single exhibit. But we did have a cultural day at the V&A yesterday, honest guv!

vintage dreamcoat back

The coat is made of eight panels which create such a lovely shape. There was stacks of ease and I think I could have pinched out a bit more but I like how it feels and I wouldn’t want to feel restricted in it at all. Interestingly enough, even though the ‘skirt’ is not a circle, letting it hang overnight, the hemline dropped in the same way. A lengthy process to level up the hem, and check it at least 5 times before cutting, was quite painful but worth it.

vintage coat at the British MuseumLining this coat was quite a chore. Even though I chose a real quality, strong, gold lining, it frayed like Billy-O. So I serged every open seam. Because I can. Because I now have an overlocker BTW!! But because I am a newbie overlockerist I got all smug and complacent with the speed and completely hacked through the side-back panel. I swore a bit. But didn’t have time for a proper sulk. I’d come far too far enough down the line to be crying over torn lining. Luckily for my sanity, I had over-bought said gold lining by a metre and a half and so I cut another piece, dutifully unpicked the ruined one and half an hour or so later it was as if nothing had happened!

An entire evening and a morning was spent entirely hand-sewing in the lining with tiny stitches. Around the armholes, down the side seams, all around the facings and neckline and of course the hems. What joy!

But what warmth!

warm vintage coat

I’ve stubbonly been walking around in my draughty Vogue jacket, lovely as it is, refusing to buy a coat, lest it meant I would never finish this one. But now I have. And boy, it feels good to be warm. Bring on the snow!

Of course the warmth may not have been totally down to the coat. Mr O insisted this was a great photo of me having a cheeky snifter! He’s such a bad influence.

cheeky_snifter

A little wander into Covent Garden was lovely on such a bright winter’s day. This coat is great for twirling in too!

twirling vintage coatAnd a little venture into Neal’s Yard to soak up some more colour, if that was at all possible!

vintage Coat Neals YardThank you all for your support and patience throughout my first coat-making venture. It feels amazing to be wearing something so functional, yet so strikingly original and properly fitted. I won’t divulge cost of this project as it has scared the living pants off me but I can honestly say it was worth every single penny pound!

ooobop! review: Burda Style January 2014

Burda Style Mag January 2014

I had secretly planned to make the December 2013 issue of Burda, my last review. It takes an age to put together. And if I’m ever to make a new years resolution, it must be to claim back more time for more sewing. But it proved to be a rubbish plan. And it appears that I am indeed a love-struck addict of  all that is Burda Style magazine!

So here I duly kick off with some snuggly 2014 fashions of the faux furry kind…

faux fur burda Jan 2014

As much as I want to, I can’t possibly  dive into one of these projects. My pattern is traced, my fabric ordered and delivered and my instructions await for a vintage 50s masterpiece. I just need some time… and space! Boy will the pinned pattern pieces take up a whole of the living room floor!

Have well and proper earmarked that little furry cropped jacket, though (above, bottom, left) . I can totally see myself in it! (innit!)

Happy New Year is the next section. Reporting a bit late for a New Years Eve number but really some goodies here for any party any time… or just any time really!

party clothes burda January 2014

Loving the batwing waterfall top (1st row, 2nd col) which comes with an ‘easy to sew’ verification. I’ve just got a few tension issues to sort on my newly inherited overlocker and I am well on my way to knocking a few of these beauties out, I tell ya!

The o-so-cute bustier (bottom row, col 1) is a fabulous party separate. In a quality shiny black, it would rescue any old skirt or trouser in a jiffy. But it would be exceedingly traitorous of me to detract from the Georgia dress before I’d even started!

Another ‘easy’ option is the cerise one-shoulder dress (row 2, col 2). Big attention seeking effect incorporating scant sewing time equals massive win!

Now I’m forever trying to stray from all that is monochrome. It doesn’t make for a very colourful blog, for one. But how can I ever move on when such striking temptation is blatently bowled in my general direction?

black and white burda january 2014

I love the neat mod look, I love the fat stripes of that jacket in the first pic and I love how the skinny stripes behave in the long sleeved jersey shirt. Some interesting points of gathering to achieve all that psychedelia! Thinking this may well be a job for my overlocker too!

Now even if I hated each and every one of this issues patterns (which I don’t, obvs), I would pay double the cover price. Double I tell ya! Just to get this Master piece pattern of ultimate gorgeousness….

aquilano rimondi dress

Such a flatering shape. I love the neck. I love the colour. I love the contrasting leather. I will make this dress. At some point!

Now I’m not really one for fancy dress. But Burda certainly does us proud each and every time there’s an excuse for dress-up. No exception with this months selection of saloon characters, superheroes and exotic animals from the jungle, the sea and even the circus! Take your pick. Creative costuming for the whole fam!

role play burda jan 2014

And if mermaids and snakes don’t do it for you then feast your eyes on all that is classy and plus size.

plus fashion burda jan 2014Burda love a bit of Asiatic influence and I’m personally loving the black and the red (obvs) but I’ll leave the rest of the commentary to you, my lovelies.

Here’s hoping that 2014 buys us all some more precious time to sew some more wonderful creations. Love and luck and the very best of health to you all. Now go party your lil sock off!! xxx