Skulls and roses dress

Ooobop Skulls and Roses dress

This dress is round three of my strive to perfect a self-drafted bodice pattern. It follows on from a self-drafted retro top, blogged in 2014 and my recent wax cotton print dress.

There’s something wholly satisfying about returning so soon to a pattern that you know will work. And I’m sure it will be even better to come back to following a few more tweaks.

The neckline on the wax cotton dress gaped just a little so I fixed that and refined the curve of the neckline too. There was also some gaping at the back bodice armholes, so I took out some excess and transferred it to the back waist darts.

Ooobop Skulls and Roses dress

The fit is much better but V3 dress – already underway – will have a little more fine tuning and then all I need to do is stay the same shape… forever! 😀

The skirt on this one is a simple gathered dirndl. Easy to make, easy to wear, easy to dance in. And also a little less of a Marilyn fashion risk than a circle skirt on a blustery day.

The invisible zip is set on the left side of the bodice as before, but this time I remembered to keep the back piece as one, so the pattern isn’t split. And plus, I’m rather digging the burrito method of self-lining. Have you tried this yet?

I’m chuffed that this was another piece of fabric that emerged from from the bottom of stash mountain. I’m sure Dan had his eye on this for a shirt at some point but I think he forgot. And I shamelessly neglected to remind him! The colour scheme is my favourite kind and I love a little nod to rockabilly.

This dress has been worn and snapped to death already with no time to blog until now. It’s been my go-to for all number of events – clubs, festivals, gigs and even the office. I’ve got to put it to the back of the wardrobe for a bit now, though, because I’m sure I’ve clocked the look that says: “Someone didn’t make it home last night!” 😮 I did. Obvs!

Daniel took these photos for me, on our date night last night. Multitasking. Always! I’m standing in front of St Paul’s church in Hammersmith. Such a beautiful grade II listed building among all the modern architecture and the hustle and bustle over and under the flyover at the broadway. It’s been a place of worship since the 1600s! So much history on a little patch of green.

Ooobop Skulls and Roses Dress

Light was fading and our tummies were rumbling as we snapped these in a hurry en route to The Gate – one of my favourite veggie restaurants. Dan agreed that there was no lack of meat on the plate. My only regret was that I didn’t have enough room for desert. They looked so awesome! Perhaps my next dress version ought to be of expandable material!

Ooobop Skulls and Roses dress

 

Big Vintage Sewalong: Retro Butterick 5813

Big Vintage Sewalong dress

Back in March I announced I was taking part in the McCalls Big Vintage Sewalong. My scheduled date to blog seemed an awful long way off then, but all of a sudden today came shooting along like an express train and of course I’d left everything till the last minute!

My pattern of choice was the 1950s Retro Butterick 5813 – Nail on the head, Alana from Flying Purple Hippos.com! – but it wasn’t without a dither. I loved each of the three 1940s patterns on offer too!

retro butterick 5813

As soon as that pattern was in hand and I’d decided on version A, I headed straight down to Goldhawk Road and to the relatively new store, Goldbrick Fabrics, to snap up some gorgeous Italian brocade. I’ve been quite literally ‘stitched up’ (or rather unstitched) by brocade, once before (yes looking at you BHL Georgia!) and I knew as a rule, it has massive ‘give’ issues but this particular brocade is beautifully soft and luxurious with just the right amount of body at the same time and subsequently a little more forgiving.

retro butterick 5813

big vintage sewalong dress

And because the fabric was so special I wasn’t about to employ any gung ho scissor action. So I made a toile like the good girl I am. Fortunately I only had to make a few minor adjustments. Firstly I needed to remove some excess bagginess from the back bodice. I often come up against this issue but this style commanded some serious ease for practical reasons of movement I guess.

Big Vintage Sewalong Butterick 5813

Secondly, I needed to gain a little more girth. My go to adjustment for this is always to add a bit at the side seams but that often results in a loss of shape and a sausagey silhouette, so I thought I’d try a different way by sewing narrower darts and I do believe the result was way better, though, looking at the back view shot I should also have shortened the bodice a tad.

retro butterick 5813

Thirdly, I lobbed a fair bit off the length. I ummed and arred between below the knee or to the knee but I think after seeing these photos, an inch longer may have added a bit more drama. What do you think? I sewed a substantial hem so I could take it down a little I guess.

I wouldn’t recommend this dress to an absolute beginner. There are potentially, lots of hissy-fit inducing features like darts – lots of them, some underbust gathering (which admittedly would probably have been easier in a more manageable fabric) oh and inset panels! Luckily I’ve had some former training with insetting sections of my quilt panels – for example the Whirligig block –which made the instructions and the construction a near enough breeze!

Another thing to be mindful of is the precision of facing the front opening – sewing perfectly symmetrical seams to meet at a single point before turning through. I think the collar is such a lovely feature of this dress. There were no complications in adding it and it has a real neat finish that encloses the lining around the neck edge.

Big Vintage Sewalong dress

It’s fully lined too which means sleeves an’ all! I’ve only ever done this twice to my ever failing knowledge: My vintage plaid dress (which annoyingly seems to have disappeared from my blog) and more recently my Sew Over It Joan Dress. And I must say it feels like a bit of a rip off to have to basically construct the dress all over again in lining, no cutting of corners, darts, gatherings, inset panels the lot! And that means even more seams to overlock too!

retro butterick 5813

But of course it was all worth the effort and it’s so lovely and weighty. Proper quality, like!

I’m not sure whether I cut or sewed the wrist end of the sleeve incorrectly but in any case I opened the seam a little to avoid the puckering that was about to happen. And yes those are 3 little darts for shaping the sleeve. On the fashion fabric and the lining. That’s proper vintage detail!

retro butterick 5813

I chose an invisible zip over a more-authentic lapped one, only because I had one to hand but I’m really pleased with the outcome. It just looks like another side seam. I achieved such invisibility by taking my time for once, pinning and then tacking in position before using a regular zipper foot and then sewing a second time with the invisible zipper foot.

retro butterick 5813

One thing that surprised me was the vent. It’s just a slit with facings either side and the lining is stitched to the facings like a little bridge around the outside. Much simpler than the usual lined vents or kick pleats of most vintage dresses I’ve sewn but it does feel like a bit of a cop out after all the attention to detail elsewhere.

Overall I totally love this dress. It was such a pleasure to indulge in some vintage sewing again. Very long overdue and I’d love an excuse (and some more hours in the day) to make another. But I’d make a few more adjustments next time, namely taking a bit off the shoulders, shortening the bodice a fraction and adding a little more to the waist.

retro butterick 5813

It got some lovely comments as we strutted around Portobello Road and around Notting Hill. Not least of all from the lady who managed to sell me 2 new pairs of sunglasses. Flattery gets you everywhere, see!

retro butterick 5813

retro butterick 5813

retro butterick 5813

Many thanks to The Foldline for the encouragement, for McCalls Pattern Company UK for providing the pattern and fabric. I sincerely hope that lots of people get inspired to buy these gorgeous vintage patterns and that lots of wonga is raised for The Eve Appeal in the meantime.

retro butterick 5813

Special thanks also to Dan for dutifully shooting these amazing photos. We always have such fun. London is so full of amazing places and we’re lucky that most of them are just a short tube ride away. It’s always a hoot when we’re oot and aboot!

Marie from A Stitching Odyssey is next up. Can’t wait to see what she makes.

Retro Butterick ’57 halter-dress

butterick b4512 halter dress
I made this dress to wear at my sister’s wedding last month but ridiculously didn’t manage to get any full-length, blog-worthy pics. So yesterday, we took a lovely evening stroll down to Fulham Reach for these shots.

butterick b4512 halter dress

It took a bit of effort to ditch bags, change outfit, reapply slap and head straight back out after a long hot day at the office but I’m glad we did. The light was lovely – no jacket required, and it took no time at all to chill out on the banks of the Old Father Thames!

butterick b4512 halter dress

A swift G&T softened the self-concsious blow of twirling around like a loon in full view of passers-by. And it wasn’t till after we’d finished that I clocked a security guard behind a smoked glass door applauding from his ringside seat!

butterick b4512 halter dress

The pattern is Butterick B4512, a retro 1957 reprint. It’s a halter-neck bodice with optional collar/pussy bow. I cut my own circle skirt though I believe simplicity’s one is a circle too. I just didn’t want to split the front skirt section. It would have messed with my dots!

Butterick B4512 sewing pattern

butterick b4512 halter dress

I knew I might have issues with the fitting of the bodice but I was time short as always and used a lovely cherry print fabric for my first attempt. Alas it was too long overbust if that’s a thing. So I had to take an inch out horizontally. I could have gotten away with it, pesky kids or not, but my inner perfectionist nagged to get it right. So I adjusted the pattern pieces and re-cut in some stash polka dot. This fabric has subtle stretch which I knew would work with me!

butterick b4512 halter dress

Once I’d sorted the issues it really took no time at all. Only the bodice is lined. I think the most surprising thing was not even having to level the hem after letting it hang overnight. It didn’t distort at all!

butterick b4512 halter dress

We treated ourselves to a long overdue child-free dinner date at the Blue Boat afterwards. The same place where we shot my not so boring pencil skirt! I got lots of compliments at the bar. I didn’t feel like I had to justify why I was wearing it. After all, why save a party dress for best? On whose say so? Not mine!

butterick b4512 halter dress

I’d love to try this pattern in other fabrics, even a plain one. It’s kinda formal fancy Hepburn from the front but the backless feature and the swishy skirt make for party factor. The petticoat was a happy find in an Oxfam charity shop on the way home from work one day. I’ve been meaning to make myself one for ages, determined to make everything I wear, but couldn’t ignore this beauty for a fiver!

butterick b4512 halter dress

It’s very strange with youngest daughter being away this week (She’ll be tucked up in her sheep shorts now, no doubt) but at the same time so lovely to be spending some fun times with the Mister and his clever camera skills. Long may this sunshine and warm weather hang around. These evening strolls totally make me feel like I’m on holiday!

A festive full circle

Tartan full circle skirt

Here’s a little something that wasn’t on my mahoosive Christmas to do list! So it’s a small miracle that it’s being blogged here and now. Each and every year at around about this time, I say out loud, over and over that next year I will start earlier with Christmas prep: do my accounts in September, the Christmas presents in October, get the cards sent in November and not take on quite so much work so I can ease in gently and revel in the lead up! Perhaps next year I might take note.

So with all this month’s stressy stuff going on, how on earth did I get it together to make anything new? I stole sleep. Robbed it, right from under my own nose. Three whole precious hours. Doesn’t sound like much in the grand scheme of things but when you are only averaging about five to six as it is, the motive would have to have been significantly necessary. Well I did need an outfit for the office lunch!

tartan circle skirt

I’d like to say it was an impulse make but to be honest I spend a lot of time dreaming about what I want to make so when I eventually get round to making it, it feels like I’ve made it before, at least 4 or 5 times in my head!

I love the Westwood/punk/vintage/rockabilly vibe of tartan. I know that it has deeper, traditional roots and I even have some distant Scottish blood so it feels highly appropriate and very festive!

tartan circle skirt

The skirt is self-drafted full circle with a waistband and lapped zipper. I didn’t line it and chose, instead to finish the insides with Hong Kong seams and a bias finished hem. I feel slightly guilty for machining the hem but I think that’s a small price to exchange for some shut-eye! I’m wearing a tiered organza petticoat underneath. Just one layer. Just to give it a bit of poof!

twirling in tartan circle skirtAnd I went for a shorter length this time. I’ve recently been hooked on below the knee pencil skirts so this 17 incher feels much more party like. Just had to be ready for any embarrassing fashion blunders in this blustery weather.

Tartan was most definitely the right fabric for the job.
The drape is perfect.
It doesn’t need lining.
Its a dream to sew.
Bit fraying but with quick work and seam binding , that’s not really an issue.
It doesn’t crease
Its totally machine washable.
It only took a metre . . .
. . . and only cost a fiver!

tartan circle skirtI didn’t have too much trouble lining up the horizontal patterns but if I allowed a bit more time I could have evened up the design at the sides a bit more. I did however leave it to hang for the statutory 24 hours before trimming and hemming. I know how worth it that bit is now!

I can’t see me getting anything else sewn this side of Christmas, unfortunately. I simply have no idea how I thought I might have chance to finish my coat. The muslin is made and I know what adjustments I need to make but the fabric is going to be looking longingly at me for a few weeks more, I think.

So in the meantime I will just have to resign to the wardrobe what is and twirl in my new tartan . . . while I’m running around like a headless chicken!

tartan circle skirtThanks as always to the fabulous Daniel Selway for his tireless photography favours.
And also to the wonderful Jayne Hepsibah-Sullivan whose Hepsibah Gallery window makes a perfect backdrop!

The dress that nearly wasn’t

. . . but I’m so glad it is!

Spotty rose dress

Following on from the vintage rose print dress, I fully intended to make the next one from some gorgeous red rose cotton. But I knew I should improve on the fit of the bodice beforehand. I’ve turned once again to my trusty Elisalex bodice pattern. Why fix it if it’s not broke, I say!

I’ve taken the advice from the By Hand London site to perform a full bust adjustment. Something I never thought I would ever need to do for me. But on closer examination of my last version, and the one before, the upper bust was defo a tad too big whilst the fabric was more than snug over ‘the girls’. I’ve always gone by bust size and increased the waist, but never thought to go down a size and increase bust and waist. More than anything I plainly couldn’t be arsed! I must also learn to take bust measurements with whatever bra I mostly intend to wear!

Well. Big fat lesson learned. I now have a properly fitting bodice pattern that fits under arms, across chest, over bust and waist. Not bad for 2 years of (not) trying!

properly fitting bodiceAnyhows. This is not the reason that this particular dress didn’t happen. This spotty rose fabric has been sitting in the bottom of stash mountain for eons. I bought it from a charity shop and quickly decided it would only ever be suitable for a toile after doing a burn test.

Let’s just say I nearly burned down the kitchen in the process. Once the flames died down and the stinky fumes dispersed, my science test revealed that this fabric was totally synthetic and was never going to be acceptable in sweaty weather.

So I used it, with my dramatically altered bodice pattern to make a toile. Really not bothered if at first I didn’t succeed. I really didn’t want to cut into the lovely red fabric without knowing the alterations worked. But they did. Clearly. And all of a sudden I can forgive the fabric for being so unnatural! It’s amazing how blurred one’s vision gets when one is blinded by a darned good fit! I really must learn to be so snobby about fibre content!

front view of spotty rose dress

That said. I am still holding out for some 100% cotton gingham. How hard can it be? A sleeveless number in poly is fine but I can’t imagine having a sleeve, however short, in such close contact with my pits, in summer!

I wore it out to the park today in a sticky 26 degrees. Extreme test for a plastic dress. But because the skirt is so full and the fabric is so thin, it was remarkably cool.

Wearing the dress in Ravenscourt Park Gardens

Smelling the roses

I am still going to do the red rose version but I’m so pleased with this Brucey bonus one that I landed up with in the process! It has a 1950s vibe to it and of course is the perfect base dress to accessorise with a pair of crazy heels.

spotty rose dress

These heels being of the pink, furry leopard-print kind, of course!

sitting pretty on the doorstep

spotty rose dress

And I think you’ll agree that Mr Ooobop worked his magic as usual!

First summer dress of 2013

What a gorgeous day it was in London today. I couldn’t believe that I actually didn’t need a coat for the first time this year. I can even feel a little after-sun tingle on my skin.

And what perfect timing I might add, to showcase my first summer dress of 2013!

simplicity 2442 dress by Hammersmith BridgeMy Mister and I, along with our trusty assistant, LMO, decided to take a walk over Hammersmith Bridge to take the photos. And to stop for some lovely lunch at The Bridge in Barnes. (highly recommended, I might add!)

Hammersmith Bridge is my favourite bridge of all. A Shame we didn’t get any of it in its entirety but if you Google it, there are a gazillion great pictures of it out there.

simplicity_2442 on hammersmith Bridge

What I didn’t know about it was that there are some ‘viewing benches’ on the bridge itself. Scarily placed right up to the roadside but with such a lovely view of the river. And obvs a great place to take a picture!

simplicity 2442 dress on hammersmith bridgeAmazing how much prettier the Thames looks when there’s a bit of sunshine!

simplicity 2442 bodice section

simplicity 2442 on hammersmith bridge

From Hammersmith Bridge Mr Ooobop insisted we take some shots in the Launderette. Not the most glamourous of locations but I’m so happy that it helped to project the vintage feel of the dress.

vintage style summer dress in the launderette

The dress itself is half derived from Simplicity 2442. I used this pattern for the bodice section:

simplicity 2442 patternI was the lucky recipient of this, plus a whole bunch of other goodies from Sew Magazine when I won Star Letter, back in October 2011. You can see the generous prize haul here.

I did have my doubts concerning gaping necklines and dodgy pleat placements but all it took to get over the fear was one toile, which also helped to reassure that it wasn’t going to take too long to whip up either. I can’t say exactly how long it took because I have been sewing in such little bursts over the last few weeks, in between shed loads of work.

I love the crossover straps at the back but I must find me a decent strapless bra. I’ve just tucked in the straps of my regular bra so they don’t show. But there was a going concern that it would end up round my waist at one point!

vintage summer dress front and back

This pic is Mr O’s fave. Personally I think I look a little psychotic!

vintage style floral dress in the launderette

After much deliberation, mostly on Twitter, I decided to add a dirndl skirt to the bodice. I didn’t like how the suggested skirt was neither full nor straight. I felt it wasn’t extreme enough for the fabric I’d chosen or the vintage vibe that I wanted. I considered a circle skirt and nearly went for that, fearing too much bulk around my waist but I needed more than 3m to achieve that.

vintage floral dress in the launderette

A dirndl still gives a great shape. I think you just have to make sure that the bodice is not too long otherwise the fullness sits over the belly and that’s not a good look on anyone!

vintage floral dress with dirndl skirt

ooobop vintage floral summer dress

I lined the whole dress in red. I wasn’t going to line the skirt section at first but I remembered how, as full as skirts are, if they are made of cotton they cling like Billy-o to your tights! I also added a bit of ease in the depth of the midriff lining to prevent the outer fabric of the midriff from puckering.

dress lining

I also took great care in under-stitching the lining on the bodice top edge so it didn’t peek out.

under-stitching

I’m so happy with how this dress turned out. The bodice fits and feels great. Can’t wait to try with a circle skirt and perhaps even a long evening dress in some silk velvet? As if my list isn’t long enough!!

back view of summer dress

I can’t possibly round off this post without a shout out to the amazing Dolly Clacket. She without doubt has been a massive inspiration whilst I’ve been dreaming up this dress. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing her wonderful 50s style tea dresses, hop over and have an oggle. They are gorgeous!

ooobop! gypsy top #2

gypsy top frontThere is something quite comforting about visiting an old pattern. I made my first gypsy top almost a year ago and not only have I had great use out of it, it made a great addition to Dorothy’s ensemble too! Once again I used Butterick B4685, Fast and Easy… and indeed it was.

butterick b4685 sewing pattern

I used view D this time but omitted the front lace panel. I did originally include the underbust elastic but when I tried it on, tucked in a skirt, which is mostly how I intend to wear it, I looked a little (more) like the Michelin Man! So out came the elastic, quicker than when it went in!

I used a remnant of cotton gingham that I picked up from Oxfam, and used every last bit of it! So very satisfying especially as I’ve since found that 100% cotton gingham isn’t that easy to get hold of. Well not in a choice of colours. Despite my local plethora of fabric shops, they all stock poly cotton gingham, for the demand of school dresses, apparently. It looks just as pretty for sure but pure cotton feels so much nicer against my skin.

I prefer the sleeves and the simplicity of this style. Its less fussy and so quick to make up. I am going to make a few more, lined up for summer, and my eldest daughter has put an order in for one too.

gypsy top sleeve detail

It also made sense to enter this into Made by Rae’s Spring Top Sewalong 2012, just as I did last time round. Its not nearly up to the standards of most of the beautiful tops over there but I’m liking the annual inspiration of creating a new tops for Spring all the same! You can see this and all the other entries over at Flickr. My entry has been successful so I will keep you posted when it is time to vote! 😉

gypsy top back view

I wore it out to a trip to the Tate Modern yesterday with Mr and Little Miss Ooobop! and I have to say it is perfect gallery wear. It’s always soooo hot and stuffy in the galleries. The artwork made for a choice back drop too!

gypsy top side view

Hope you are all having a wonderful Easter break 🙂