One of the many reasons I wanted to sew my own clothes was so that I didn’t wind up wearing the same as anyone else. Not to stand out from the crowd necessarily but just so I could be me.
But every so often the sewing community manages to turn that ideal on its head and makes me want to sew the things other people have made, haha… oh the irony!
In particular McCalls M7726 shorts. As spied on Giorgia’s Insta feed over at @1stitchforward. I mean, come on…. super classy matching fitted jacket and all!
In between then and now, I have been careful not to overbuy fabric. It’s crazy to think that I’ve never got the right kind to use, despite a toppling stash. But when I saw a little Chanel suit on the YouTube FF Channel – a fitted jacket and shorts in their signatory bouclé, I think – I remembered some fabric I was saving for a ‘particular something’!
Now I’m not trying to pass this awful fabric as bouclé. But I did envision it as giving a similar vibe. Ten out of ten for naivety…!
I’ve no idea what this fabric is. But I’m sure you can see from the flat lay below, just how vulnerable to pulling it is. It didn’t take long before I realised it didn’t have a straight grain either! I sulked for a bit. And sweated over countless placements of the pattern pieces. Didn’t matter how I manipulated those bunched criss-crossed threads, they just did as they pleased. So I followed the selvedge for the ‘straight’ and ignored the ‘grain’ because there wasn’t one… seriously frustrating!
Once the pieces were cut. I had another sulk because I was convinced they were going to look so wonky. And the fraying! More like unravelling! It is such a loose weave. I abandoned it at this point knowing no amount of overlocking would hold those edges.
And then a brainwave. A roll of Prym seam tape to the rescue. Literally a whole roll! Every edge of every piece I taped down. And then overlocked for good measure. I’m still yet to wash them so I don’t know how well it will hold.
After I did this it was more enjoyable to sew. The impending feeling of failure was much reduced and I serged on. But I definitely ruled out the prospect of a matching jacket!
Tailor tacks were many and necessary to align all pieces. Though not fun to pick out at the end! I had to be super careful of not pulling out threads of the actual fabric!
But as the shorts started to take shape, I began to love the project. And I felt pride in not giving up.
I love how neat those pockets are. Probably due to the stabiliser tape. But the edge stitching gives a sharpness too.
No such word as ‘cant’ !
All was going well and then I had a wobble over the belt loops. How on earth was that going to work in this fabric? With lashings of Prym Fray check. Thats how!
The instructions were to make a long tube and then cut to size. ie: sew along the long edge, trim, turn, edge stitch and cut into 3 separate pieces. In fall-apart fabric? That was going to be a joke. I considered other options and with some great suggestions from IG followers as a safety net, I went ahead to try – just in case it did work. Thanks to that stinky stabiliser, it actually did.
Though the bodkin wanted to poke out between every thread of that fabric tube along the way. Boy I’ve become a determined soul in my old age!
And finally the leg hems. My initial thoughts were not to roll them them up as suggested as I think its a bit of a scruffy finish with the side seams showing and all. I sewed another pair of shorts here – sadly outgrown – whereby bias cuffs were sewn as turn ups. It’s a much neater technique that hides all the raw edges and side seams. But then I had a little think and noticed that the open seams are kind of camouflaged so I opted for the more casual look to the turn up as per instructions.
For such a little project there were plenty of painful and lengthy processes but lots of new lessons learned too: Believe it or not, this was the first time I’d sewn a fly zipper, and belt loops! And I’m pretty damned chuffed with the result. I genuinely thought they were heading for the recycling bin so soon into the project and yet now I have a great pair of shorts for all seasons!
We took a little wander at sundown with Dan to shoot under the flyover at Hammersmith. In truth we didn’t have the energy to go further afield – it was very hot!
I can’t wait to sew these again, in a more stable fabric of course. It will be a breeze. Breeze! Oh how I want actual real life breeze right now. Bring on the storms!
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.
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!
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.
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?!:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes life brings you cherries. Or is it lemons? – better still an invite to an intimate audience with Zandra Rhodes! I graciously accepted the latter, of course. It would be rude not to. There then followed the inevitable what-to-wear meltdown. My wardrobe is basically monochrome. But the tulle skirt and striped Tilly Agnes top served me well. And off I tottered to Bermondsey, South London – home to the London Fashion and Textile museum and Zandra Rhodes Rainbow Penthouse!
Clip-clopping over a jewel-emblazoned stone floor, overlaid with that iconic wiggle design, I knew I’d arrived at the right place. I took the lift up to the Penthouse. The door opened and the colours were right there – shouting loud. Shouting this is totally Zandra’s pad!
And there was Zandra busying around in her gold-tipped pumps, book under one arm, croissant in the other, dressed impeccably in a bright red and pink kimono-wrap jumsuit. The design of which was all hers of course – that iconic lipstick print, still living on from when it was born circa 1968.
Zandra graduated with from the London College of Art with a degree in textile design. She worked hard alongside the likes of Hockney, Ossie Clark and Warhol. The pop art revolution was very evident in her work
Aside from her successes she talked about her many knock backs. How for instance she approached Sandersons to sell some of her designs. They said her work didn’t sit at all well alongside their typical wallpaper collections. But all the same, purchased a single rose print in support of her, with the prediction that she would either fall flat on her face, or be a huge success. Well its very apparent what happened after that. And Zandra had no intentions of adapting!
Zandra talked about process, how she first designs the print and then the garment design follows on, inspired by that print. She walked over to a silk chiffon dress adorned with another of her iconinc designs – the ruffle print. Edgy romantic boho chic. Right there in the room. Noticeably, she didn’t once call for her assistant to retrieve or pass her anything. She just got up from her seat to show us, herself. I’m already impressed by this and one of the questions asked, confirmed my thoughts.
What would you say is the secret to the longevity of your career, Zandra?
“Being boringly hardworking” was her exact reply.
This is not entirely a surprise already. She is sharp, witty, down to earth and recalls every major pitstop of her working life to let us know where she came from and how she landed up. So much pride but not a scrap of arrogance, no sense of entitlement, though relishes the title of Dame. And there’s reason behind that relish. She is bemused by how ‘quiet’ British Designers are on the global stage. She truly believes that the UK is home to some of the most talented designers in the world yet they disappear in to the fading archives of our memories.
“Does anyone know of Jean Muir?” she says?
Embarrassingly, I knew the name and had to look her up as soon as I left. How could I not know about this amazing designer hailed as the ‘English Vionnet’?
So I can see how being honoured as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire would help to get the word out! And I am certainly hanging on to Zandra’s every word right now.
On display, were posed some mannequins adorned in Zandra’s vibrant and most signatory creations that hadn’t seen the light of day for many years.
It was such a privilege to see the black and gold knit dresses from her 1985 Egyptian collection. I love how the chains are worked into the design and the scarab inspired embellishments. On the second mock-wrap dress, the interaction with the stripes and the placement of the graphics is so striking and I would totally wear this today.
The chosen selection had been preserved in boxes and almost forgotten about until the planning began for her forthcoming retrospective: Zandra: 50 years of fabulous which will be held at the London Fashion and Textile Museum in September. These were but a few of the exclusive selection that will also be making an appearance at the Spring Knitting and Stitching show 28th February – 3rd March 2019. Have you got your ticket yet? Read on to see how you can win a freebie!
Who have you most enjoyed designing for?
Zandra described the pleated sleeves on the iconic Freddie Mercury outfit as one of her favourites. And the pink off-the-shoulder chiffon dress for Princess Diana. She chuckles at the prospect of a royal coming to visit her studio in Bermondsey for a fitting and describes how she went, garments laid over her arm to the palace!
There are things you have to consider when making dresses for the Royals. For instance Diana was quick to rule out any wrap dresses, claiming that the paparazzi would be waiting outside the car, willing a gust of wind and the ‘perfect shot’!
Is there another Royal you’d like to dress?
“I think Kate. Or Camilla!”
We all agreed that we’d love to see either.
What colour would you choose?
“I have no idea,” Zandra says sharply! (High five to the the no-faff response) And recalls that the original sample dress for Diana was black and shocking pink. “The royals never wear all-black outfits.” she adds.
I never knew that but it makes sense that black garments are reserved for funerals and sombre occasions. The Queen herself is famed for standing out in a crowd in her colourful outfits. And I suppose it makes a reporters job a little easier!
It is around this time that the telephone rings – a loud classic landline tone. Zandra continues talking to us and then with a little irritation says. “Just ignore it. It’s just an emergency line. No one knows that number. If they really want me they’ll call back.” The ringing continues and Zandra asks her assistant to take it off! “I’m not at home!” she yells across the room.
Then her mobile starts ringing.
“Hello?” she answers. “Oh hello darling……”
An upbeat and casual conversation continues before us. Plans being made to meet in Brighton. It feels a bit rude to be listening in but it would have been far more rude for the twenty or so of us to up and leave the room!
She signs off. Places the mobile on the table, leans forward to say in a cheeky voice, “I hate to name-drop, but that was Hilary Alexander!”
But you are Zandra Rhodes! I’m thinking.
Back to the questions and some of my favourites:
Do you wear clothes designed by others or do you only ever wear your own?
“I always wear my own. But if on the very odd occasion I do wear a pair of jeans I will paint them to make them my own.” She showed us examples from her book of a painted jacket and jean set. I can’t show you that. I’d have to actually kill you!
I’m inspired already. I painted a design on an outfit once (see here) and I want to do so much more now.
Do you dress up when you are working?
“Oh no. I’ll often wear a tracksuit to work in…”
Zandra in a tracksuit. Trying really hard to compute. Really hard.
“But fully made up and with jewellery of course.”
Phew! Faith restored.
What annoys you?
Interruptions! Constant interruptions and not enough time. There’s always something that stops you getting on with what you actually want to do.
Resonation maximum magnitude… Me too!
And what advice would you give to students or young people starting out?
“Don’t let people put you off. Believe in it enough yourself and the world will follow you. It justifies you in the end if you feel it inside. It might not bring you riches. But work hard and you will be successful.”
I take a big massive gulp of air at this point. Holding on to someones every word could be a sure path to suffocation if there were to be too many! I’ve heard people say this before. But not with such conviction. And certainly not from the mouth of such a wonderfully passionate and iconic 78 year old who claims that she’d hate to have nothing to do and has absolutely no plans on hanging up her tools. In fact secretly I’m pretty sure she’d love us all to bugger off so she can cut some potatoes up for a new print design. And yes she has used potatoes!
Writing this post and reading it back has left no doubt in my mind just how much of a fix inspiring people and seeing their work gives me. It’s like an injection of energy that gets me wanting to learn, create and explore so many more things. Cue starstruck photo opportunity with Zandra:
I’ve been inspired to make a tulle skirt for a very long time. I’ve made a few for others – my favourite was an orange one for ‘Amelia Fang’ – but still I wondered long and hard about what kind of tulle skirt would I make for me. And where on earth would I wear it tbh! A lot of what I make might be considered a #sewfrosting entry but I often wear party clothes as office attire so it would never go underworn. So long as I didn’t go for ‘sugar-plumb fairy’ all would be good.
And then one day, whilst browsing the ‘glossies’ in my local hairdressers, I spotted that Dior tulle skirt. I gasped once at the skirt and twice at the price – a whopping great £3,100!
Now I don’t doubt the craftsmanship and experience deployed at House of Dior and I am totally au fait with the arduous task of gathering grief and the time it takes, but still that price point means I’ll just have to make my own. Lifelong story of life!
It would be unfair to say that Dior was the original designer inspiration. It was more Molly Goddard that initially sold me, with her transparent chiffon baby doll dresses worn over jeans with clompy boots. But still that image prompted the action.
I love the cheeky transparency of the tulle and the sideways looks it attracts from passing strangers. I do have modesty shorts underneath by the way – I’m not brave enough to show the world my actual pants! But should the occasion arise for less cheek, I can always rustle up a simple petticoat of black lining.
It’s so much fun to wear. Currently loving it styled as shown with fitted jacket and high-heel Doc Martens but can also see it with a T-shirt and trainers, versus a corset and some sparkly shoes. In your face, repeat-wear shame… I’m even wearing this skirt to Sainsbos!
And it’s perfect for twirling in. Doesn’t take much to release my inner gypsy spirit. I could dance all day!
I’ve been reining in my fabric buying for a wee while now but with a firm idea of what I was going to immediately make, I could justify a few metres of tulle. I just had to endure a few eye-rolls!
The construction at House of Ooobop was very basic: there are fundamentally two layers of two gathered tiers of tulle. The top layer is a soft pin-dot tulle. It has a bit of stretch cross-wise so I made sure to keep the ‘straight grain’ long! The under layer is a mid-weight tulle – not too stiff, not too soft – so it gives the necessary structure to the floppy tulle on top.
Once gathered, the top edges are attached to a satin waistband with button closure. And the beauty of tulle is that there is no need to hem – thank goodness. I was clean out of black thread at the end of this! But should anyone want a more detailed tutorial, please leave me a comment below and I’ll gladly do a follow up post.
Mr O (aka Daniel James Photographic) took these amazing photos of course. His patience and dedication to the cause unruffled by my whinging about the cold (and the smell of horse poo!) … and that my feet hurt from all the walking we did.
But the latter is largely due to wearing my new Christmas Docs from my lovely hubby, fresh out the box without wearing-in first. No pain no gain though!
So I’m totally New Year’s Eve ready, and of course I am also appropriately ready for the much awaited Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition at the V&A museum in February… which is really soon. And I’m so excited! Who’s coming?
Thank you so much for reading this post, and for all your lovely words of encouragement over the years. I have been a little lapse in the writing dept of late but I’m not stopping blogging any time soon. I’ve got some lovely projects coming up in 2019 already and some I didn’t even get round to posting from this year. So keep tuned and all will be revealed!
Wishing you all an amazing New Year, fuelled with happiness and good health and all things sewing of course! xxx
I couldn’t wait to be a grown up. Quite simply so I could be who I wanted to be without permission. I lived in the ‘burbs and being different in any way shape or form was a fast track route to ridicule. I didn’t have a particular yearning to stand out from the crowd. I just wanted to experiment with different ways of doing and wearing things.
School uniform meant I had to dress the same. Fair do’s. And you’d be forgiven for thinking that was a safety net. But boy, if you had the wrong shaped skirt, roundy- instead of pointy-toed shoes, and were void of a ‘flick’ then you definitely couldn’t ‘sit with them’!
So when I announced I was off to art college it was a sure sign of who my friends weren’t:
‘So I guess Oxfam’s gonna be your new Chelsea Girl, then?’ (Well, yup!)
‘Off to join your hippy tribe?’ (If that’s what it takes!)
‘You’ll come running back, you’ll see’ (Er, don’t think so!)
I set sail – on a Red Bus Rover – to London and didn’t look back.
I love that people here don’t bat an eyelid at what you wear. That charity shop chic is a thing and that handmade is relished. I love that even my bad hair on the baddest of hair days gets an occasional compliment and I love having so much inspiration around me.
And why am I telling you all this? Because it was all stirred up by Daniel Lismore. Someone I’d been following on Instagram for some considerable time without even questioning who he was and where he’d come from. I just loved his extravagant outfits; his spectacular selfies with countless celebrities; all the amazing places in the world that he travels to and the ‘confidence’ he ooozed. Well, about that…!
It never occurred to me to find out who he actually was. I was quite happy not knowing until curiosity got the better of me and I checked his profile: ‘Public Figure. Artist living as Art. Circuit Ambassador @Tate. Brand Ambassador @illamasqua. Cool Earth Ambassador.’ Then I needed to know more!
One of his Instastories announced a talk at the V&A with Hilary Alexander. I just love the V&A. Love Hilary too. So I booked my ticket. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Daniel’s words resonated loud and clear when he talked about the teasing, the bullying and how his looks set him completely apart from his classmates. He came from a small village in the Midlands and his struggle was undoubtedly harder than mine. But still so many of his words rang true.
At 16 he knew for sure that he didn’t want to be like everyone else. He was inspired by an eccentric aunt who loved to mix and match fashions and his passion for upcycling and styling began. Dressing-up became his armour. Not to be on show so much as to be a platform from which to observe his onlookers.
Beneath all the swathes of glorious fabric and striking make up is an even more, incredibly beautiful person. Strangely enough, one who looks very much like my eldest daughter – I hope Daniel won’t be offended by that. My daughter certainly isn’t! – And believe it or not, someone who comes across as insanely shy. That was the biggest surprise for me and yet the thing that made most sense.
It wasn’t a surprise to know that he was snapped up for modelling early on. But the nightlife was what floated his boat more. Dressing-up his way and meeting cool people at cool London clubs, he became a living artwork for all that he wore. Daniel believes that fashion is art, and who am I to argue?!
From overseas charity work, to activist operations at the side of Vivienne Westwood, Daniel’s life is never dull. And an appearance in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie was one of the stepping stones to his first exhibition co-curated by SCAD and presented at SCAD FASH: Museum of Fashion and Film, Atlanta, USA.
The exhibition was called Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken. I love those words. It’s like the perfect mantra when I’m losing a bit of faith in myself. And I love the book, titled the same – a small window to the exhibition that I would have loved to have seen it in real life.
The photography is amazing. All outfits are fashioned and styled by Daniel. Layers of exotic fabric, textiles, jewels and souvenirs from his travels, all pinned together – not sewn as I found out from the talk. Though he does immerse himself in embroidery from time to time. Lots of the accessories and fabrics are donated, many from celebrities. Boy George was the previous owner of the hat he was wearing at the V&A talk. And much like us sewing bloggers he finds it extra hard to resist the beautiful fabrics he comes across on his travels.
Don’t worry. I’m not about to be sporting Mickey Mouse hands or a Roundhead military helmet any time soon. Though I have been entertaining the idea of a ruff… just a small one, mind!
If like me, you like nothing more than pouring over slick coffee table books loaded with lush alternative fashion inspiration then go grab yourself a copy. Daniel Lismore: Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken is available in all good bookshops or just click right here:
So I did it again… mixing business with pleasure. With no regrets – just pure delight in my two worlds working together again, so effortlessly, so cohesively this time.
Lets start from the top. By day, my hat-wearing is in the graphic design department of mostly publishing houses where I design covers and inside pages for children’s and young adult books.
Late last year I was asked by Pan Macmillan if I would like to design the inside pages for a very cool book by radio and TV presenter, Gemma Cairney. This is the point when all my senses got seriously ignited and creative juices whisked up on hyperdrive. Errr… ok… like yes totally please… honour all mine and all that!
Open is exactly what it says on the tin: “A toolkit for how magic and messed up life can be”. All those taboo hard-to-deliver subjects laid bare, on the page, cool as.
I don’t often shout from the rooftops about my work unless I truly believe the hype but in this instance, with Gemma at the helm, loud-hailing her invaluable advice and support, awesome art direction from Rachel Vale who also designed the gorgeous cover, fellow designer, and wonderful person Tracey Ridgewell, and a plethora of edgy art from illustrator Aurelia Lange, I was in my element and couldn’t possibly keep shtum.
Here’s a little taster of what’s inside:
This book involved a proper dream team, of that you can be sure. Just check out the thank you’s at the back. It’s all inclusive and that’s what made it such a pleasure and an honour to be working as part of #teamopen on this very important and unique book. Boy do I wish I had this book when I was a teen.
It was a lot of work in such a short space of time and yet when it was all over and the proof copies were in, it seemed like a distant blur. And then I got an invite.
So when one gets an invitation to a very special book launch party, whereby the dress code is ‘fantastical and dazzling’… what is one to do? Make it, right?!
I didn’t have much time to plan. A couple of weeks in fact. So I needed a tried and tested pattern. All hail the Capital ChicMartini! I have only made this once before, in a vintage bark cloth (see here) but always knew there would be a need for more versions. Thank you so much Sally for such a brilliant design. I love it so much!
The fabric had to be shiny – no doubt about that. And preferably yellow. Though the thought made me squirm. It could all go horribly wrong and I might possibly end up looking like some gone-wrong banana.
But I set to, with some weird synthetic shiny stuff from the Goldhawk Road, quite thankful that a no-smoking policy is ever present. All the time with a niggling urge to customize the dress somewhat. Then I chanced upon some pink fabric of the same kind in another shop. And appliqué stars just happened.
And then the night before, at quite literally the 11th hour, I had a thought that I could paint one of the illustrations from inside the book, on the dress. Excitement overload!
I couldn’t possibly go ahead without first asking Aurelia’s permission – Open‘s incredibly talented illustrator – so when she got back to me with an absolute yes, it was all stations go, and I made a stencil from sticky-back laminate paper and used black fabric paint to daub one of her many cool iconic illustrations. I just love the end result.
The party was immense. At the Women’s University in Mayfair, with period rooms bursting full of the most inspirational and creatively talented people. Jaw awe to say the least. I’m so proud of Gemma and I’m not even her mum! And just look how she rocks a sequin or two!
It’s insane that I managed to whip up this dress at a time when my workload has been so bonkers. But it just goes to prove that passion triumphs over ever everything. Even shut-eye! I will totally sleep when I’m dead.
I learned a lot from this project. Mostly that I respond well to a hefty deadline; I love that my job brings such creative people and projects to my table. But also that I relish a bespoke brief and a perfect opportunity to create an out-of-the-ordinary outfit for a party. I’ve just got to learn to deal with the attention it gets. Didn’t factor that in, lol!
Daniel took these photos for me a couple of weeks ago. Just love the yellow against the green. He is so clever to have by-passed the daffs in in the local park to get to a scuzzy railway arch… who knew?!
By stark contrast I’ve just finished three of the prettiest bridesmaid dresses in floral Liberty Lawn, that I hope to share with you after the actual wedding. So I must be due something more for me, hey?! Plus there are plans for a @Mccallpatternuk #thecocktailhour dress for the @eveappeal. More on that soon.
Are you more productive with a looming deadline or do you do just as well without? And would you be more inclined to make or buy a short-notice party dress? I’d love to know.
Till next time, my lovelies. Happy sewing! xxx
Your comments are always brighten my day and inspire me to write another post. Thank you.
Mostly I sew from patterns. Vintage ones, Burda ones, any of the big-four, independent ones, any that take my fancy, really. But when it came to finding a pattern befit of a significant birthday party dress, I was stumped. I searched through the hundreds I owned, I trawled through plenty more online and still I didn’t come up trumps until a visit to the hairdressers presented this beauty in one of their glossy mags.
Who was I kidding?! But a girl can dream right?!
With a couple of months to go and so many people asking what I was going to wear, the pressure was on and almost too much to bear. I even considered RTW as a get out clause! But following more procrastination and now only 6 weeks to go, cool words of advice from Sally of Charity Shop Chic, put me back on track and sold it to me as a simple circle puffball attached to a bodice of choice.
I just needed a prompt, a bit of pressure and some added faith, obviously!
With all that poompf in the skirt section going on, the quest was for a simple bodice. One I could toile and fit with not much time on my hands. It also had to fit in with a busy work load leading up to Christmas, and be sewn in the the evenings so black was totally out of the question too!
I remember ear-marking this vintage Weldons pattern as a potential party dress some time back and when I rifled through my patterns for the umpteenth time, it shouted out all the reasons it should be chosen. Simple to fit, no sleeves to insert, flattering neckline, small amount of fabric required and a perfect yoke for a string of cockerel feathers!
The small amount of fabric issue was quite an issue at this point as I’d already decided that silk was the only way forward. The only way I was going to get a classy, crumpled look and not just wind up looking like a discarded crisp packet!
The skirt section is a greedy full circle with an added 16 inches around the waist to accommodate 4 box pleats: Two at the front and two at the back. The full hem is then gathered onto an a-line, mini underskirt which I self-drafted by closing the waist darts on a self-drafted skirt block, and adding a little flare. Both are attached to the waist seam.
The wonderful Sew Busy Lizzy gifted me the polka-dot taffeta some time back. I love that it found a special use. Not so shiny that it caused static, strong enough to support all that silk whilst adding a cheeky secret air of Moulin Rouge!
Having toiled the whole thing in calico beforehand, it transpired I needed 5 metres of dupion silk. Pricey at £25 a metre if one shops in Broadwick Street, London. But £12 if you’re lucky, in Goldhawk Road. I say lucky because I pretty much went in all the shops to get the right colour – a two-tone black & red. And the last one I tried had not only the best colour but offered the best price too.
For all my fretting, Sally was absolutely right of course. It really didn’t take long to sew. The indecision and worrying took way longer! And fears about working with silk were laughed off when I made the first cut. Literally like cutting into butter. And it behaved and sewed up brilliantly.
And so the finished article partied hard to the band and the DJ with a hall full of amazing family and friends. It went way too quickly though, and I so wish I could press replay so I could get round to spending more time with everyone who came. But I guess thats the downside of hosting ones own!
Mr O aka Daniel Selway took these amazing shots for me this morning. Nothing wrong with a party shot but lets just say there’s a definite improvement of photographic quality in the sober light of day!
Happy new year to you all. Wishing you a peaceful, healthy, and joyous 2017 xxx
You know how it is. One minute – all guns blazing, knocking out capsule wardrobes like they’re going out of fashion, the next – it’s all gone. Just like that. At the drop of a hat. You know – that thing that’s sent to try us – our sewjo!
So how DO we kick start the enthusiasm that was? Read on for some inspirational ideas to get those feed dogs chomping at the bit and hungry for more!
1. RTW window shopping
Have a wander round some local high street fashion stores and remind yourself why handmade and slow-fashion refashions are a far better way forward. Dodgy hems; crap fabric; poor fit; not forgetting the ethical issues… need I go on? But do take what IS on offer: Clock the styles you like, the colours and the closures, note the shapes, the trims, the sleeves, and burn them to your memory or better still, take a cheeky picture of two and store for future reference 😉
It’s an old fashioned concept in a digital format and it’s used by millions. Just search for inspiration and there’ll be a board ‘with your name on it’. I made a board called #inspirational fashion to post every thing I’d love to make, or be able to make! Make your own mood boards to pin or repin your favourite fashion finds, tutorials or sewing tips. And have a nosey on other peoples boards. But do be warned. This activity is highly addictive!
3. Movie Makes
Chill out! Where’s the fire? Remember it’s a hobby and the only deadlines imposed are callously created by you. So relax. Watch a movie. One with a prominent wardrobe! I personally like the oldies. As aforementioned, Shirley Maclaine in The Yellow Rolls Royce; Pick an Audrey Hepburn movie, Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany’s in fact any one you like or Marilyn if she’s your thing: Some Like it Hot and The Seven Year Itch are my faves. And Madmen is always flavour of the month. There’s a reason my Joan dress came about! The Devil Wears Prada, Sex and the City, Titanic…. there’s an endless supply and Netflix is mostly your best friend.
4. Glossy Mags
What do we look for first in a glossy mag? The fashion, of course. I confess that I rarely part with hard cash for a hard copy but a sesh at my hairdressers or any other waiting room becomes such a treat when theres a pile of them for your personal perusal. Vogue, Elle, Grazia, Marie Claire, all those high-end, sharp-edged glossies don’t scrimp when it comes to drool-worthy styling and photography. Dior, Chanel, McCartney and McQueen… they’ve got a top-paying ad after every article to fund fund them so no expense is spared. Re-snap those shots, Instagram them, Pin them, take notes in Evernote. You will feel the fire burning in your belly with every click! (I will have this dress!)
5. Meet up for real
Plan a meet up with sewing blogger pals in real life. It is so good for the soul and infinitely good for your sewjo. (I feel it prudent to warn about online safety issues but I’m assuming we are all grown ups) Like-minded sewing people understand. Friends and partners and children do their best. That’s the difference. Last Wednesday I spent the most pleasurable lunch hour with the wonderful Jax Black aka Mrs Bee Vintage. We talked without breathing, about a gazillion things sewing-related and I went home a far happier and inspired bunny. Most recommended – I swear by it!
6. Rummage and marriage
When was the last time you had a proper rummage in that fabric stash of yours? I mean a proper one, whereby you take every last piece out of every single box – one by one – spread it, stroke it, love it, admire it with a tilty head, ponder for a while, fold it up, and put it back again? Try simultaneously matching pieces with patterns in your collection and see if you can marry them together. I guarantee there’ll be a match made in heaven, you’ll see.
7. What’s on in your area?
Check out any exhibitions or fashion exhibits at local museums. Any period, any style, it really doesn’t matter. Better in fact to make a small departure from your usual comfort zone to trigger something afresh. And just take the time to study, properly. Close up and personal. I am so priviledged to have the V&A, The Fashion and Textile Museum at my beck and call. Handmade Jane and I spent a wonderful afternoon at the Fashion and Textile Museum, there in our white gloves inspecting the guts of such beautiful designer dresses as Chanel and Dior and Balenciaga. The workshop was Couture Inside Out –1950s Paris and London. Art galleries too: National Portrait and Tate galleries for instance. There is just as much fashion inspiration in a renaissance painting as there is on a glossy centre spread. (Just Google ‘renaissance paintings’, o ye of little faith.!) I love the silence of such places, the calm and the space. And more importantly how you get stripped of all niggling distractions the minute you walk through the door. It is proper therapy, I’m telling ya! And you will return to your machine, renewed and inspired.
8. Read all about it!
There’s a world of inspirational reading out there. Finding it is sometimes tricky. But when you do and it lights that spark that was struggling to flicker, the feeling is priceless. I have a few titles I’d like to mention: The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby as recommended by Didyoumakethat;Vivienne Westwood by Vivienne Westwood, totally recommended by me; The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham (very soon to be screened in the UK) and Mrs Harris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico as recommended by Dolly Clackett. Outside of the autobiographies and stories, you may want to seek inspiration from some of our favourite household bloggers: Tilly’sLove at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking, GertiesGertie’s Ultimate Dress Book: A Modern Guide to Sewing Fabulous Vintage Styles, Lisa Comfort’s Sew Over It Vintage. And when theres no ‘Bee’ on the telly, Claire Louise Hardy’sThe Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric feeds us some great challenges instead. I confess it’s been a shamefully long time since I set foot in my local library but the craft section is usually a cosy corner worth visiting and you get all that eye candy for free! But if finding time to read is tricky as it often is for me then Audible is definitely the way forward. This wonderful app has made it possible to me to listen to a book on the tube, at work, whilst jogging, in bed, in fact whereever and whenever you bleedin’ like!
A podcast is effectively an independently made radio show. And I always forget how good these are. My first intro to podcasts was Threadcult. Christine Cyr Clisset of Daughter Fish has such a natural interviewing technique and her content is varied and always inspiring. Tilly recommends Modern Sewciety. I love hearing how others got started, what fires them up and how far they’ve come. Seamwork Radio is a relatively new one but Sarai is a natural! Just like Audio books, you can listen on the go.
10. Join the club!
My first and my best and still my most favourite go-to sewing community is Burdastyle. I tentatively posted my first project on there before I knew anyone or very much about sewing. And I never looked back. The support and inspiration you get from such a world is amazing. Free patterns, great inspiration from other sewing people of every sewing level, the ability to interact and get feedback –and for FREE – is worth every minute invested. Other groups that spring to mind are Sewing Pattern Review, which does exactly what it says on the tin. A great place to check out a project before you get stuck in to your own; WeSewRetro which is my favourite resource for vintage and retro submissions and more recently The Foldline, a new, exciting and rapidly growing community of which I have recently signed up to. Join me here!
11. Fabric heaven
Take a trip to your local fabric store(s). No online store substitutes the therapy induced by real-life feeling and stroking and stretching (only in secret) and sniffing of fabrics. What? You don’t do that? Only me then! Allow yourself time. Wander slowly. Looking up, down, left and right AND behind the counter. AND move the front rolls to get to the back rolls. That all important fabric is waiting just for you. For that all important garment that you know nothing about just yet. But when it happens, its going to be jaw-dropping, show-stopping, envy-inducing. All you have to do is browse and let your imagination do it’s stuff.
12. Old news is good news
Who throws old copies of sewing/crafting magazines away? Not me! And I’ll take a wild guess at not you either! Put the kettle on, slip into your favourite jammies, blow off the dust and pile them at your feet. A cuppa and a browse of a Burda Style mag or two is guaranteed to inspire an idea or ten. If you are one of those less hoardie types I’m sure you don’t need a nod, but there are a gazillion great mags on the shelves of Smiths lately. Sew, Love Sewing, Sewing World, and Threads to name a few UK titles. Sign up and look forward to that monthly thud on your doormat. And then you can have piles like mine!
13. List lovers
Keep a running list of projects you’d love to make. Either digitally or the old-fashioned pen and ink way. Even if looks like you’ll never get a minute to yourself to follow through. You just never know when that moment will happen and when it does you will be prepared to seize the day with an inspired to-do list. Keep it on your person for when you are perusing the aisles of your favourite fabric store. It’s a penny-dropping moment in the making! If you’re bored of seeing the same old, same old on your list then rub it out and add something new!
14. Fashionary fashion
This is a fabulous little thing that I just love to have in my handbag at all times. It’s effectively a book full of naked croquis (body outlines) for you to create your own designs. Bring it out in your lunch hour; Have a go on the tube; whenever inspiration strikes sketch a garment on a pre drawn croqui. After all, that’s the hardest part, isn’t it? Drawing the croqui, that is. I got mine from the V&A shop. Amazon stocks a slightly different version too. Or if you’d rather spend your money on fabric you could draw and photocopy your own croqui by tracing a photo of yourself, preferably in your undies so that you have a true representation of your silhouette. You could then photocopy multiple pages to form your own very personalised Fashionary-style book!
15. Party time!
Do you have an exciting event coming up? A birthday party, perhaps; a wedding; anniversary or just a blow out with a mate next month? Then picture yourself making your entrance in that amazing outfit you’ve been making in your head for months. The reception is raptuous and your pride is bursting at the seams. So do it. You can. And you will have that dress. And boy it will feel good.
16. Up the Tube
You Tube is a fabulous source for tutorials. My go-to for sure. If your sewjo is ever stuck in a rut because you can’t solve a problem, there’s a wealth of knowledge and selfless help out there just for you. And it’s mostly visual – no reading – which is always a win for me. I’m forever grateful that someone, somewhere in the world has hit upon the same issue and has the answer, a visual one. One I can pause and watch again and again, till it totally sinks in! You can subscribe to your favourite channels and keep up to date with your favourite teachers. And its all FREE!
17. Sign up
Join a class. Improve your skills. Learn a new technique. Meet some like-minded sewing people and make new friends. Have a look at your local authority adult-education classes, they’ll be the cheapest, or Google some private classes in your area. There’s plenty of classes in London but feel free to add any from your local area in the comments below. My London suggestions are: Thrifty Stitcher, Sew Over It, London Fashion and textile Museum, Morley College, Badger and Earl, Tilly and the Buttons… If the going out bit is the issue there are plenty of brilliant online courses on offer too: Try Craftsy, Burdastyle Academy, or Angela Kane for starters.
18. Bloggers delight
I know this sounds blindingly obvious but actively follow the posts other sewing bloggers. Read about their experiences. Ask them appropriate questions. Tap into their enthusiasm and build yours. It’s what we’re here for!
19. Better to give…
If you are stuck for something to make for yourself, make someone else’s day! I’m all for selfish-sewing but once in a while it’s a great fix to make for a small child or a rellie or a neighbour instead. And it doesn’t have to be a garment. Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries… there’s always an occasion for a quick fix crafting project. Or just rustle up some stand-by pressies for the hellovit! A quick Google gets you any amount of free patterns. Bags, ties, toys, aprons, napkins, headphone cases, purses, hats… I could go on!
20. Never let go
Be your own inspiration. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come, why you sew and what you do it for. Was it the fit? The relaxation that ensued? The social side? Or the endless possibilities for the most amazing wardrobe of garments ever?! Just take a moment to reflect on the best thing you ever made. How did it make you feel? What more did you want to achieve then? Just do it, why don’t ya? Or take a break. You can do that too. Because as scratchy as we get, we’ve come so far there’s actually not much chance of going back. Sewing just gets hold of us by the short and curlies… and never lets go!
I do hope this post has been a helpful nudge in the right direction. Please share any of your other ideas by commenting below and by reposting or Tweeting to any fellow sewing people who’s sewjo may be in need of a boost.
What are your favourite movies, your best books or your most recommended courses? Where do you go to get your fashion fixes? We’d all love to know please!
Yesterday was a very, very happy mail day. There I was, beavering away like a goodun, working from home, though at just about tipping point from the bloody noisy builders banging about next door, when not one, but two substantial thuds landed on the front door mat. My fuse was half blown and I was about to yell at the usual runaway estate agent delivery boy, when I remembered what could possibly be in those two packages.
Package number one:
This is the second batch of cards I’ve ordered from Moo. The third if you count the ones I ordered for Mr O. The first ooobop ones were way before I’d decided on my identity and so I’d ordered the cute little mini ones. But they’ve since run out. I secretly wanted them to run out when these fabulous new square formats were introduced to the range. My logo sits so perfectly in the middle and there’s plenty nuff room on the reverse to add details plus another image. Plus, they properly match my garment labels too!
If you’ve never used Moo before I wholly recommend them for a fabulous service and great quality. There’s even a real person on the end of the phone if you need any help. Though the process is a very simple step-by-step online operation.
I’m not being paid to big them up, by the way. I properly love them! And if you fancy some of your own there’s link here you can use which gives you 10% off your first order:
And I get rewarded in ‘moolah’ if you place an order. And so do you once you’ve placed your order and recommended a friend.
I don’t make any money from my sewing but I do make lots of friends. Like for instance I got chatting to a lovely lady the other day on the bus who was knitting with some fabulous yarn that looked like pencil shavings! I couldn’t resist asking her about it and within seconds we were chatting all things sewing and knitting. She had run out of cards but luckily I managed to dig out the last remaining dog-eared one from my bag just before she had to get off at her stop. It was then that I realised how useful they are and how I must get some new ones. I’m never quick or dexterous enough to tap in a new contact on my phone in a hurry. I come over all fingers and thumbs, so these are perfect!
And so what could possibly be as exciting in the next package?
Package number two:
I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to get a copy of this film. I don’t even know anyone else who’s ever heard of this film: The Yellow Rolls Royce! Anyone? Anywhere? The last time I watched this film was nearly four decades ago so I was hoping my love for it wasn’t a romantically distorted view! How could it be. Check out the all star cast: Shirley MacLaine, Omar Sharif, Ingrid Bergman, Rex Harrison, Jeanne Moreau, George C. Scott, Alain Delon, with surprise appearances from Art Carney, Joyce Grenfell and Lance Percival!
So why does this news belong on my sewing blog (besides the fact that I love watching an old movie while I sew)? Well. As I watched, and I indeed loved, I remembered exactly why I truly loved it so so much. Not just because I absolutely fell head over heels for Alain Delon at a very illegal age, I also totally fell in love with Shirley MacLaine and her wardrobe. She was a gangsters moll. ‘Fidanzata’ to George C. Scotts character of Paolo Maltese. And even at that age I wanted her clothes, her hair, her make up: tight wiggle skirts and dresses, stripy halter tops, swing skirts and chiffon scarves. Black, white and red, candy pink with black trim, polka dots, chiffon and fur. Pretty sure they were faux!! And there was me thinking it was all about Alain. Ha! I’m going to watch it again and again until I’ve clocked every item in her wardrobe and then make them all!
I just adore all the black buttons down the back of that pink dress. Mine would be red of course! And if you click the source for the image below you will get a little clip of the movie so you can see where I’m coming from!
I could just watch this film over and over. In fact I just watched that clip 3 times! This will now be my favourite movie to sew by.
Do you watch movies while you sew? What are your besties?
Grab yourself a cuppa, some delicious snacks and pull up a chair. This may take some time. The little gasp of joy I inhaled when I picked up the latest issue of Burdastyle is about to manifest itself as an exhalation of excitable word spray!
That said, the cover is probably the least inspiring of images. I don’t know, something to do with a grubby looking pink jumper teamed with a skirt that doesn’t make much sense but don’t diss that skirt till you see it later on…
The first section is titled ‘Call of the Wild’. It’s mostly about animal print but get behind that if it scares you, to see some of the sophisticated lines that are very camouflaged by it.
For instance this sheath dress (A). The print totally hides it’s streamlined seamlines but what a shape. Further on you’ll see some colour blocking to illustrate them. I love the neckline. Not too dissimilar to the BHL Flora dress which we all know and love. Skirt (B) is a classic pencil with gold buttons along the front two dart lines as far as I can make out. They are kind of hidden in that print too but it’s a nice detail all the same.
The choice of contrasting blue pleated panel with the print on dress (C) is a little mind boggling to say the least. I don’t hate it, I don’t think. Just not really sure about it. It’s an add-on rather than an inset. I much prefer the version that comes later.
Animal print parka (D) I can deal with though. This one’s made from polyester poplin so it’s very lightweight and it’s got lots of pockets too!
I’m loving the contrast of ribbing against animal print chiffon in this shirt (E). I’m loving that it’s described as easy to put together too!
So here is that skirt from the cover (F), teamed with a top that also has ‘an enhanced added panel’. It makes much more sense altogether, if you like that sort of thing. Definitely better balanced. But perhaps still a little odd!
Not so keen on this flared jacket (G) though. I think I’d prefer a more cropped look like the Vogue jacket I made (and have since lost… I’m so gutted!!). It kind of looks a bit maternity at this length.
Next section is Western. Fringe, kilim, wool and leather. Not generally my style but there are still some lovely things going on here.
I can just picture the envy of all my camping buddies if I were to turn up in that blanket coat (H) Its made of Jacquard and leather. A most special kind of parka!
The dress (I) is all a bit too much for me. The kilim design and the long bodice. I’m sure if the accented rib knit sat on the actual waistline it might appeal more. In a different fabric though.
This funny little garment (J) is classed as a waistcoat. It’s not for me, I’m afraid. But the urban western leather suit (K) totally is! I’ve only ever done an alteration on a leather skirt, never sewn one from scratch so all the topstitching on those panels scares me but excites me in the same breath! There’s a sewing class included for the jacket too.
And could this tailored blazer (L) be any more stylish if it tried? I properly love this jacket!! And I don’t even mind the ruffles that poke out on the little top (M) Though I foresee a nightmare and an expensive tantrum if 100% silk chiffon were indeed to be used! The ruffles on top (N) only decorate the front. but looking at the back view, I quite like the way that only the sleeves are ruffled.
Loving the dropped hem on this midi skirt (O) and especially how the centre front seam is embraced with diagonal stripes. A cotton/wool mix – I bet this skirt feels amazing.
The Timeless Beauty section brings forth polished cuts, sophisticated fabrics and delicate colours…
Here’s that funny little waistcoat again (P). A little more classically acceptable in leather, wouldn’t you agree? But I don’t like ruffles enough to deal with a full length dress worth of them! This dress (Q) just says ‘pain in the backside from beginning to end’ or ‘patience of a saint’ however you look at it!
Here’s another version of that top and skirt (R). A touch more casual but still very elegant. The sweater/slacks combo (S) is not really my thing though.
And just look how much more elegant that kilim dress gets to be in grey poly crepe (T)!
Shirt with accent and skirt with buttons (U) are a good office combo and I even like the variation on that blazer in velvet with details (V). Or do I?! Maybe it is a bit odd. But the classic sheath dress (W) is not only good as a classic staple, it’s designed for tall sizes too. This issue is definitely teaching me that there is sophistication to be found in plain colour dresses. Step away from the print!
There’s some cute little Cowgirl tunics and dresses in this issue. Some lovely details going on and I adore the fox purse. Surely that’s not for children alone?!
The next section is called The Art of Colour. Lots of colour blocking with high tech fabrics.
For instance you can now see some of those seamlines in that first sheath dress that were previously hidden by animal print, in this colour blocked version (1). It’s made from a high-tech reversable jersey, though you’d have to have darned neat seamwork to reverse this I would have thought! I find the blocking of this top (3) is quite jarring and unnecessary. It’s like one of those optical illusion vase pictures where you’re not sure whether to look at the black or the white bits. But, strange as it still is, because of the different colours employed, I’m quite diggin’ the weird pleated panel on this dress (4) now.
Whilst dress with no pleats is refreshingly, classically simple (5).
The giant pleat of fabric in the teal top (7) quite appeals now. Just with that contrasting neckline. Turns a very ordinary T shirt into something far more interesting.
There’s a lovely choice in the Plus Fashion section this month.
Who doesn’t love a shirt-waist dress (9) ? I’m currently working on a second version of the 60s shirt dress I made but I’ve already got sleeve and pocket envy, looking at this one.
The pretty cape collar dress (10) is so pretty but this fabulous bohemian knitted coat (11) is a total winner. Just imagine how cosy that would be in Astrakhan (71% new wool, 19% mohair).
I love the lace cuffs on that blouse too (13). Guipure lace in case you can’t see. Totally poshes up a peasant blouse! That neckline is repeated on the tunic dress (15) and the short sleeved version (16) too which incidentally works beautifully with leather strides. I think I want some.
And that just about wraps it up as far as this months gorgeous garments are concerned.
Did you get your issue yet? Any thoughts? Any faves?