The Wizard in My Shed: Costume for Simon Farnaby

 

Simon Farnaby wearing bespoke Merdyn costume

And now for my next magic trick . . . !

I’ve worked as a graphic designer – advertising, marketing and publishing – for more than 30 years now and its fair to say that some of my most fun jobs have been sewing ones, such as this apron for Ellie Simmonds and Laura Ellen Anderson’s Amelia Fang outfit.

Last week was a busy one and typical that I should get an Emailed request for another costume with precious no time to spare.

Poised to turn it down, I looked to Dan in despair that I was about to say no to such a lovely job and he said, “Say yes. And we’ll make it happen!”

We? I thought. And how?!

But his face was doing that convincing thing. I’ve seen it before and he’s always been annoyingly right. So I replied to that Email with a yes and a gulp!

The original brief was for a hat and a cape of sorts fit for Merdyn, the main character from The Wizard in My Shed, the debut children’s book by Simon Farnaby. And it was needed tout de suite so that Simon could be filmed wearing it for a Blue Peter appearance the following week. Eek!

The Wizard in my Shed book cover

We don’t do things by half-measures at House of Ooobop – Simon was going to get a proper Wizards robe! So… no time to panic, I set about sourcing some purple fabric and Dan took charge of the details.

Have you ever wondered just how many purples there are in the world? I haven’t until now, that is. mostly because it’s my most unfavourite colour and generally only gets called upon reluctantly when I’ve run out of colour choices for a series of book cover designs!

But seriously, I walked the whole circle of Goldhawk Road fabric stores before I found not just the right shade of purple but also the right fabric itself – I needed 7.5metres of something drapey with a touch of structure. Something vaguely natural in fibre to account for studio lighting and prevent slow-roast simulation… oh and nothing too shiny or fancy-dress-like.

It took a while but patience persisted and I ticked all the boxes with a what I believe was a viscose twill and in the meantime, Dan came up trumps with some lovely muslin pieces in muted colours for the embellishments. All very carefully considered.

I started with the hat. Very simple pattern pieces but a very stiff fusible interfacing was key here. It created an authentic crumple in all the right places once I turned the main pointy section the right way out. It was quite tough sewing to the covered brim but once that seam was clipped and trimmed it sat beautifully. And I added a cotton muslin lining so it wouldn’t be so sweaty to wear under the lights.

Merdyns hat

Dan, meanwhile hand-coloured the spots on the scarf that was to be tied round the hat. Total dedication to the cause. He used the fabric sublimation crayons I bought from Wear Your Art at The Stitch Festival earlier this year and they worked a treat. Believe it or not, red dots on a yellow fabric is as hard to find as the right colour purple!

I can’t lie, I was dreading the next stage – cutting out the super long pieces of the robe – as I don’t have a table anywhere near long enough and it transpires my living room floor was only long enough to cut a single piece at a time. Boy was that a test of my knees! Also fingers crossed the whole time that the measurements had been taken and sent correctly. So much apprehension when you don’t get to take them yourself.

And do note the sophistication of pattern weights here.

robe pattern pieces pinned

Whilst I was finishing up on yards of seams, Dan was fusing the sleeve detail sections and the patches of stars. Two heads and two pairs of hands were definitely key to getting this done – just when I thought I couldn’t love him more!

The Wizard In My Shed Costume

Wee hours of Wednesday morning came and we were trimming threads adding ties and sewing in the labels. I only ever add an ooobop label when I’m happy with my work.

ooobop label being sewn into the garment

Only thing left to do was to package our prized project ready for the courier. Something else that had to be considered. A regular dress cover was no where near long enough so Dan’s quick thinking brought some super long dust sheets to the table which I whipped up into a custom covering… of course!

I was a little bit sad, waving it goodbye especially after we cleared up the devastation. It was like nothing had happened.

We weren’t allowed to post pictures until after its appearance on Blue Peter. But boy was it worth the wait, Simon Farnaby in it and a Blue Peter badge on it. How cool is that?! So grateful for Dan’s faith in me and the trust of Lucy and Emily at Hachette Children’s Group for putting this amazing project our way.

Simon and Lindsey on set

I’m not being careful what I wish for any more. I totally want more of the same!

The Stitch Festival 2020 – my highlights

  • The Stitch Festival 2020

I don’t know about you but this year has been a slow starter for me. Full on with actual work but slow to get sewing, not a lot of space or energy to glean inspiration or motivation. But a trip to The Stitch Festival last week was just the ticket!

Like many others I was a bit confused by the rebrand – Previously named the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show, which was a bit of a mouthful to be honest – apparently it’s been changed to distinguish it from The Knitting and Stitching Shows later on in the year.

This year’s Stitch Festival ran from Thursday 25th until Sunday 28th February and was held at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Just a short tube ride for me but apparently easy enough for everyone I met travelling from further afield.

I went without a plan and especially planned not to buy fabric.

But with minutes of arrival, I found myself fondling some awesome vintage bark cloth fabric at stand H49: Olive Road London.

Olive Road Fabrics
Fabrics on sale at the Olive Road stall

I didn’t realise it was genuine vintage at first and was about to kick off when I saw exactly the same curtain fabric I’d purchased in Brighton 5 years ago which I made into a Capital Chic Martini dress. For a split second I really thought I had mistakenly bought a modern take on a vintage fabric – that I’d been sold fake vintage! And then the lovely stall holder reassured me it was genuine and we had a good chat about how it must have been as super popular then as it is now!  I wanted all her bark cloth, especially a small piece of rose print that caught my eye just as I was moving on.

Soon after I waved to Tilly on her cute little stall. Always so cute. And always so busy. It was delightful to catch up with her at her recent book launch party for Make It Simple , so I didn’t feel quite so cheated of chat!

Tilly and the Buttons stall
Tilly and the Buttons stall

It was impossible to avert eyes at the fabric stalls. They were many and they were all fabulous. I particularly loved how The Textile Centre displayed their fabrics, deliciously draped on hanging mannequins. And some at just £5 per metre. Such a tease. One of the few things that holds me back from buying is that I must have a plan before I go adding aimlessly to my stash. I loved that black and green wiggle-dress fabric on the corner but I was ridiculously restrained.

The Textile Centre stall
The Textile Centre stall

In fact I was so proud of my power to refrain until I chanced upon M. Rosenberg & Son‘s stall. Gets me every time. One of my favourite purchases from them was the sparkly dog-tooth I used for my vintage Butterick coat. And their powers of lure was just as strong this year. How on earth was I supposed to walk past this?!:

Dolce and Gabbana fabric at M Rosenberg's stall
Dolce and Gabbana fabric at M Rosenberg’s stall

I didn’t of course. Just as I stopped to take a closer look, I heard my name called across the other side of the stall. I looked up and was so excited to see Dibs Maxwell who I first met very many years ago, online at Dibs and the Machine. She now sells specially selected and stunning fabric at Selvedge and Bolts. Defo worth a browse! She fought her way round to my side and we hugged a big hug! No photo sadly to display we just carried on from where we left off, chatting and laughing (always laughing) And then she made me buy the fabric!!

We wandered over to see Sew Me Sunshine and The Foldline who shared a stall together. They too were chocca with customers so we said our hellos and terra’s and went on our merry way.

Sew Me Sunshine and The Foldline
Sew Me Sunshine and The Foldline

I wandered a little more in search of an expanding sewing gauge. But I couldn’t find one for looking. What I did want more at this point was a little sit down and a bite to eat. The cafe area looked fab with lots of healthy and delicious options but I tend to bring my own to events like this. Basically so I can skip the queue and guarantee I will get a truly plant-based option, not one that’s had the cheese flipped out of it! I sat on the mezzanine level along with like-minded visitors, looking down on the visitors buzzing around on the various levels and planned my next move.

I noticed that John Scott (John Scott Sewing World) was about to do a talk in the next half hour so I took a seat near the front of the hall and stroked my D&G fabric while I waited. I really didn’t expect the hilarity and the fun that followed. I recognised John but I can’t say I really knew that much about him at that point. Within seconds I was in stitches hearing about his stories in the film and TV industry. He really is an amazing story teller.

I loved hearing how his signature bridal wear included beading as much on the back if not more than on the front of a wedding gown, given that most of the photo opportunities involve the back view of a bride when she is talking to her guests!

I gasped when he told of the ballgown that he made for his mother to wear to a party and that was spotted by Princess Margaret across the room. She asked who the designer was and that’s how John began making couture dresses for the Royals. Hilariously, his parents were still largely unimpressed that he was a dress designer at that point and only started coming round when they saw his name among the credits of a Bond movie. But the acceptance came when after all the big blockbuster films – like Tomb Raider, Love Actually, and Notting Hill and all the TV shows, including the Catherine Cookson epics and Poirot (whereby all the costumes were made authentically to 1920s and 1930s fashions) – he joined Richard and Judy for a slot as the resident fashion expert on This Morning and stayed for 10 years! Now his mum was truly proud and told all her friends!

Seriously I could have listened to John all day. He was so uplifting. I felt like I’d been having a chat with an old friend. Plus I got a cheeky photo with him afterwards!

Cheeky hug with John Scott
Cheeky hug with John Scott

I left the talk inspired and hanging on to Johns best bit of advice to ‘let the universe guide you’.  I generally do that but I loved that he reinforced the mission!

Next stop was a little stall run by Stef at Wear Your Art. She was demonstrating her brilliant dye sublimation crayons. I’ve never seen these before and I was blown away with how vividly they transferred to fabric.

Stef from Wear Your Art
Stef from Wear Your Art

There are two processes: the first is to draw a design on paper, place it face down on the fabric and the iron on the reverse to transfer. The second is to draw directly onto the fabric, place a protective piece of paper on top and then iron to fix design in place. The latter results in a richer colour especially if the fabric is man made. It works on natural fibres too but not quite as vividly.

Wear Your Art dresses
Wear Your Art dresses

 I can’t wait to use my crayons to create a truly original piece of art to wear! If you fancy some too and didn’t grab a pack at the Stitch Fest you can order a set from Ebay here.

Nearby I spied the entries for the Stitch Festival Dressmaking Competition and I was so impressed with the entries. I picked three faves . . .

This is Weapons of Mass Reconstruction by Debra Wade:

Debra Wade dressmaking competition entry
Weapons of Mass Destruction by Debra Wade

She based the shape on the simple classic Kimono. The theme was inspired by Afghan war rugs, Russian tanks (named after flowers) and the patchwork reflected rebuilding over scars of terrorism.

It incorporated the contrast of delicate fabric and brutal imagery in a way that was both camouflaged and pretty.

Appliqué detail
Appliqué detail

No pattern was used and the materials were mostly reclaimed linen and cotton, tablecloths, clothing and curtains. I just loved the concept and the end result.

10.4tog jacket by Gillian Foster:

Duvet jacket by Gillian Foster
Duvet jacket by Gillian Foster

No pattern was used for Gillian Fosters 10.4 jacket either. She set about combining her love of watercolour painting, freeform stitching and a reclaimed duvet to create her masterpiece. I’m so fired up to be more free with my sewing already – oh the possibilities!

I also loved this outfit by Hannah Gait.

Eveningwear by Hannah Gait
Eveningwear by Hannah Gait

It was part of her graduate collection inspired by the blues of a midnight garden: using wool and silk fabrics with an embroidered vine design of her own. I’m not sure it befitted the evening-wear category but I would certainly wear this outfit at any time of the day.

A little wander on from here led me to a small collection of garments by Swanky Modes I had a quick look and a read before I went in to hear Esme Young talk.

Swanky Modes collection
Swanky Modes collection

It was lovely to hear Esme talk about her life and work. I knew nothing about Swanky Modes, the 70s Camden boutique she set up with her St. Martins Graduate friends, Judy Dewsbury, Melanie Herberfield and Willie Walters. So fascinating and inspiring to hear how they set about, creating crazy one-off outfits from bedding and shower curtains and practically anything they could get their hands on.

Esme Young talked about her life and works
Esme Young talked about her life and works

The small selection of costumes on display included 

  • The Pyjamas from Bridget Jones
  • Dale Winton’s luxe suit from Trainspotting 2
  • The nurses outfit from Trainspotting 2

Dale Winton and Rachael Flemming in Trainspotting2

    • Dale Winton and Rachael Flemming in Trainspotting2
  • The Padlock dress worn by Grace Jones
  • The amorphous dress created by Esme’s fashion brand Swanky Modes
  • Daywear from the Swanky Modes label

Just as I was leaving the lecture theatre I spied Susan Young from SusanYoungSewing and ambassador for SewOver50 across the room. Always a treat to bump into your sewing friends but not least of all when they introduce you to two very lovely Sewing Bee contestants: Janet Pool and Juliet Uzor. I bloody love the sewing community!

I’m buzzing at this point. I can’t believe that a single ticket not only gave access to such a massive selection of quality stalls to buy from but also quality talks and demos a-plenty with a familiar face or ten to bump into along the way!

I wasn’t quite finished yet. I hovered around some more cool looking demos – embroidery and crochet – before I was drawn into the marvellous space hosted by King’s Ely Independent School, Cambridge.

Kings Ely Independent School, Cambridge
Kings Ely Independent School, Cambridge

The display was an amazing array of A-level textile students’ work. I was literally blown away with the high level of concepts and craftsmanship. The first one that caught my eye was entitled A Sense of Place by Katherine Wood:

A Sense of Place by Katherine Wood
A Sense of Place by Katherine Wood

I loved the mossy textures and fantasy woodland vibe along with the dripping threads and natural earthy colour tones.

I spoke to one of the school’s retired tutors who was delighted to show me around the exhibits. She was so proud of the student’s work and rightly so.

Photographing the gorgeous garments by Kings Ely students
Me, photographing the gorgeous garments by Kings Ely students
Elizabeth Charlton Movement and Transformation
Elizabeth Charlton Movement and Transformation
Lottie Webster Movement and Transformation
Lottie Webster Movement and Transformation

The passion for their subject was evident in the carefully chosen materials and colours and not least of all, workmanship. I couldn’t take my eyes off this coat of printed and embroidered hessian patchwork pieces. So original and so impressive.

Rebecca Keene coat
Rebecca Keene coat

And then this stunning dress … with a ruff no less. I do love a ruff. Such fabulous colour and textures formed with well considered placement of organza and chiffon and the copper metalic threads reflected the light so brilliantly. I really want to make a dress with a ruff now.

Dress with Ruff by Beatrice Whymark
Dress with Ruff by Beatrice Whymark

Thank you Kings Ely School, for such an awesome and motivating feast for the eyes. You are all very talented artists and designers and I will be waiting patiently for the day I see your names in lights and telling all that I saw your work first at The Stitch Festival 2020!

Believe it or not there was much more to see and do but sadly I have to end here. I’m as exhausted writing this as I was at the end of my day at the festival! I left with a couple of hours to spare, buzzing with new ideas, more motivated than ever and clutching my bag of stunning D&G fabric.

Thank you Stitch Festival 2020. I had a blast!

An outfit for Amelia Fang

Laura Ellen Anderson with ooobop

Not for the first time, my day job and passion for dressmaking have come together and partied!

Like when I made an apron for Ellie Simmons to celebrate the launch of her book Ellie’s Magical Bakery, and when I made myself an outfit for Gemma Cairney’s launch party for Open the book. And it only bloody happened again!

Imagine my excitement when Laura Ellen Anderson asked me to make her an outfit for her book launch of Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball!

I’d seen the cover of the book already – designed by the super talented Tiffany Leeson at Egmont Children’s Books  – and was called in for a meeting with Laura to discuss the outfit. There wasn’t too much to discuss to be honest, because Laura’s adorable illustrations gave me all the information I needed. So I took a few measurements, scribbled a few plans and couldn’t wait to get started.

If you follow Laura on Twitter – @Lillustrator – you will know how busy she is, not just with her marathon illustration and writing sessions but also flying from workshops to events like nobody’s business! This lady needed some wings at the very least!

Amelia Fang takes the starring role of this ‘terrifying’ tale. She’s fun, fiesty and loyally flanked by her friends, Florence the yeti, Grimaldi the reaper and Squashy her adorable pet pumpkin. When spoilt-brat Prince Tangine captures Squashy they must escape the party to plan a daring rescue! In their race against time, they come to realise things in Nocturnia may not be quite what they seem . . .

It really is such a fun read. The characters are so endearing and I loved it! And so say loads of other readers… it was voted book of the month at Waterstones in October, too!

I started with the petticoat. I figured it was going to take the longest to make. But also the colour of that tangerine made me so happy! It has a poly satin lining and waistband and three double-tiered layers of netting. The joins are prettied with orange satin ribbon and hemlines are finished with orange satin bias binding. I created the waistband to include 4 channels of narrow elastic. I find this helps to move the gathers around if you want to position the volume more at the back or at the sides. I’m not a fan of too much poof at the front! It looks way better, too!

tangerine petticoat

Next was the skirt. I cut a full circle from some black duchesse satin as the overskirt and box pleated some black and white striped cotton for the underskirt. I just love it’s Tim Burtonesque edge. The best find was the orange foil-like fabric for the detail on the overskirt. Oh how it tied in perfectly with the orange foil detail on the cover!

To prevent the shiny bits from fraying, I faced the pointy tips and just pressed under the long sides before topstitching to the skirt. A duchesse waistband sealed in the top edges and an invisible zip at the back was the only notion needed.

Amelia Fang with Unicorn

And then the wings. I have my milliner friend, Jayne Hepsibah Sullivan of the Hepsibah Gallery to thank for the introduction to animation wire. And for a genius solution to making a posable framework that I could cover with bat-like faux leather. They attach as a neck piece that ties at the front with black satin ribbon. The wire has no memory so the wings can be positioned at will. Oh, and I couldn’t resist adding a few cockerel feathers left over from my significant birthday dress. Such fun!!

Amelia Fang wings

The launch party was just fabulous. Held at The Crypt of St Pancras Parish Church, London which was originally designed and used for coffin burials from 1822, when the Church was opened, to 1854, when the crypts of all London churches were closed to burials. It was the perfect choice of venue. And everyone looked amazing… Prince Tangine especially!

Prince Tagine

Laura Ellen Anderson with Sarah McIntyre

Gutted I didn’t get to say hello to Sarah McIntyre. She looked incredible!

But I did get to meet so many other lovely people at the launch. It was such a coven of creative talent – writers, illustrators, art directors, musicians and photographers… It inspires me so much to hear others talk so passionately about their work. And it was thrilling to get so many compliments on Laura’s outfit. I loved making it as much as I loved seeing her wear it. And I was just buzzing with pride.

Amelia Fang launch party

I have clean forgotten that I ever said I couldn’t imagine sewing for anyone else. I guess its a very different story when your customer is so cool and perfectly lovely and you get to make a one-off, bespoke, fun outfit for her. I take it all back…

“This is most definitely my favourite kinda ‘work’!”

Big massive thank yous to Tiffany for putting me forward, to Laura for such an awesome opportunity and to Laura’s mum for the fabulous photos.

And Squashy would like to remind you that he is not just for Halloween… Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball would make a perfect Christmas pressie for 7-9 year olds. And it’s on Amazon right here! (affiliate image link below) Along with the next book in the series, Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords:


Bugsy’s showgirl and a lot of tears.

Bugsy Malone Bangles

Friday was my daughter’s last day as a primary school child. The final school pick up was an emotional one to say the least. There’s been 8 years of to-oing and fro-ing from that lovely little school, including those spent there by my son. And in those 8 years both Dan and I have accumulated as many good friends and memories as our children. Tears were inevitable!

The last couple of weeks have been jam-packed full of parties and celebrations. Back to back, I kid you not! And last week the year 6 children, directed and inspired by their fabulous drama teacher Arwen from Dramatic Dreams, performed an amazing version of Bugsy Malone.They turned all this around in the space of about a week. Pure magic, I can tell you. And I can also tell you how much of a relief it was when I remembered I’d already made a flapper-style dress for my neighbour’s daughter a couple of years ago. So no stressful last minute sewing for this performance… hoorah! Little Miss Ooobop was Bangles.

Bangles sitting on edge of stage

The dress was a simple design. There’s not much hip definition in a year 6 child or a requirement for such in a flapper dress for that matter, so a tube of lycra it was, with a nifty box pleat at the front and back neckline. The rows of fringing were a little more challenging. Sewn on with a zig-zag stitch to retain the stretch but careful not to stretch the fabric too much as I went along.

Waitress in Bugsy Malone

I properly squealed when I found the lovely stretchy sequin trim. It finished the neckline beautifully and was perfect for the feather headband too. Long live Shepherds Bush Market!

Bugsy Malone show girls

The photos you see are of a now-not-so-little girl who not so long ago wouldn’t have been seen dead on stage. She hated any amount of attention and the idea of people watching her on stage made her feel positively sick. I’m so glad that she took those after school drama classes and I’m so proud of her for jumping high over those hurdles. It seriously bought a tear to my eye watching her confidence soar on stage in front of parent-packed audience.

Bangles in Bugsy Malone

It’s true to say I am so very proud of ALL of the children. All singing, dancing, performing, netballing, chess-playing, footballing, maths and English prize-winning activities aside, they are a truly amazing bunch of kind, caring and gorgeous children and there is no doubt in my mind that each and every one of them is destined for an amazing future.

Bugsy Malone show girls

Oh good Lord. I’m off again!!! 🙁

Bugsy Malone show girls

This may be good bye to primary school years but I’m sure it won’t be goodbye to costume making. Besides the Dorothy dress and the Wild Thing for World Book Day, I also made a Poison Ivy cape for my eldest daughter who left school a long time ago!

All credit for these beautiful photos goes to Michelle Moradi.

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!!

Wild Thing for World Book Day

Where_The_Wild_Things_Are_costumeI think I may be subject to mass mum-hate if I proclaim a love for World Book Day. But I do. (Eek!) Don’t get me wrong, I get my knickers in a knot as much as anyone else but I secretly relish the challenge. After all, it involves a must-do sewing project. And that’s always a good thing.

My daughter was very clear about what she wanted to be this year. I’ve come to realise recently, how very grateful I am for people who think for me. I constantly have head soup! Someone thinking on my behalf is better than doing the dishes for me or hoovering the stairs. I’d even go as far as saying that it was better than someone cleaning the bathroom for me. Not that I know what that’s like but you catch my drift?

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Anyhows, youngest dort was dead set on Max from Where The Wild Things Are. Easy I thought. A white onesie and we are sorted! Not. Not when youngest dort has other plans, like a white onesie in a faux fur of the furriest kind. I kid you not, this stuff is horrid and has left serious evidence throughout the whole house!

Where The Wild Things Are costume

I’ve never attempted one of these before and certainly didn’t have a go-to pattern but this is where I can justify my 3 year collection of Burdastyle magazines.

Low and behold in January 2013’s edition…. a wookie jumpsuit! Thank you Burdastyle. Really. Thank you!!

wookie costume

The only problem I had was that the size only went up to age 8. My daughter is 9 but a good 4 inches taller than a regular 9 year old! And so I cut and spread and taped and so properly graded the jumpsuit pieces. But then I looked and shook my head in disbelief at the sheer size of the pattern and took out an inch and a half.

Well you can guess the rest. The first test garment was too small. But no biggie because it was only a tester and better still made the basis of a Thing One costume for her bestie! Bestie’s clever mum did a very fine job of sewing on the the all-important detail as well as taking care of  the gorgeous Hermione Granger!

Thing One costume

So once I added those inches back in I just cut and sewed… and got fluff everywhere!
The good thing about this stuff is there is no necessity for neatening of seams, no hems and no need for careful catch-stitching. I actually did double interface the ears with sew in canvas to make them stand up but not be too stiff. The zip was surprisingly ok to sew in, by hand but trimming the fluff so as not to catch on the teeth was really annoying!

Where The Wild Things Are costume

I can’t take all the credit for this one. LMO made and hand painted her own fabulous crown and check out that wonderfully fluffy tail. A tail that Max himself would have been soooo proud to wear. Mr Ooobop himself took on this task while I was at work. He chose the fur and shaped it perfectly before stitching it with his own fair hands. I am so uber impressed.

Where the Wild Things are CostumeI think we can safely say that Little Miss Ooobop was suitably impressed too! And what better place to hang out after school than the local park, in the trees, being photographed by her multi-talented dad!

Where The Wild Things Are costume

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Where The Wild Things Are costume

Hope your tales of World Book Day were as fun!
And wishing you all a lovely sunny weekend wherever you are.

(One can dream!)

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