Occasionally it seems that world is in pure chaos with nothing making sense, but that doesn't matter as long as I can sew. Sewing is a form of art, or at the very least creativity, and a form of expression. A great outlet for the tension of everyday life. Also you can make cute things. The craft revolution is truly taking place, old skills are being revived by a new generation, but with a seriously modern twist.

I've made Mario pillow cases, a giraffe print background, and turned duvet covers into summer dresses. I enjoy making something unique, special, and me- then I like wearing it and watching it fall to pieces or not fit properly. Then I enjoy (slightly less) fixing it.

One day I shall have a room filled with glorious fabrics and boxes of notions, and on that day I will have found my nirvana. But until then this blog will exist as my virtual haberdashery and sewing room. Hopefully you'll enjoy looking at my creations as much as I enjoy looking at other blogs, and you'll be inspire to make something of your own.

Monday, 30 May 2011

The House of Worth

I got a book. And I've read...some....  I'm a rubbish reader, I'm so slow and have a stack of books I want to read so I'm not how sensible it was to get a new book from the Salts Mills book shop.  But my mum bought it, and its called Fashion Since 1900.  I am very interested in fashion history as a form of social history, I am also interested in how major events affected what people wore, and how fashion responded to social changes.  I've only got up to the 1930's (peeked ahead to the end and spied a picture of Rafael Nadal!) and the First World War only lasted a few pages but this post isn't about my book.

It's about Paris fashion design House of Worth who's Peacock Dress from 1903 caught my eye (when I saw it in my book, duh).  Unfortunately, digital cameras were rubbish in 1903 and the picture only offers a glimpse of what was probably a really cool dress.  So I searched online for better images and found a whole website of pictures (who knew the internet has pictures?!?)

Lady Curzon in 1903 in Delhi celebrating the coronation of King Edward VIII and Queen Alexandra as Emperor and Empress of India.

The image on the left being the photograph and on the right is a painting or drawing, so it's hard to know how accurate an image it is but I would have hoped the colours were more vivid in the real dress- like a peacock.  I definately think the photo is better as you can see how well it drapes on her body, although the poor woman will have been in cased in whale bone or steel (!) corset.  The House of Worth was founded by Charles Frederick Worth but the Peacock Dress was designed by his son Jean-Phillipe Worth. 

1898-1900 Silk evening dress
According to my book Worth clothes the wealthy movers and shakers ( well the ladies at least) and made them gowns of conspicuous expense (the fashion world really aint that pretty) to ID them as women associated with affluence and power.  In particular Worth appealed to the King's court to gain wealthy new clients.  The following are dresses, by C F Worth, I enjoy for there exquisite detail, ludicrousness and uncomfortable-looking-ness.

1883-85 Silk, glass, velvet Day dress
1887 Silk, glass evening dress,
1892 Silk, crystal, evening dress

1925, Silk, glass evening dress
And here's a fancy one by Jean-Phillipe from the 1920's that celebrated the slim boyish silhouette.  According to my book the ladies still wore corsets in this period but at this point it was to flatten their breasts not accentuate them.   I'm sure it all made sense at the time.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

50's Duvet Dress

Bought another second hand duvet cover from a charity shop, this time only a single, for £1.99, and used a pattern I had bought online, McCalls M6331, for about £5, I made this dress.  I had to adjust it slightly from their design as my zip was too short and I didn't want to have to buy another one as the local shop overcharges for zips imo.  But I think that actually added to the 50's style. 

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Crinkley Dress


Using a new pattern I ordered recently, and some crazy crinkley fabric I made a new blue dress.  The cover of the pattern had drawings but no photos so it was hard to know exactly what it would look like.  And using my crazy crinkley fabric it came out rather vampy. 

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Yorkshire Fashion Archive

A couple of weeks ago, over Easter I went to Salts Mill in Saltaire.  If you don't know Sir Titus Salt (world's coolest name?) built Saltaire in 1853 for his factory and to house his workers as the pollutions, overcrowding, and generally living conditions were creating major health problems for the people in Bradford and surrounding cities.  So in Saltaire every family had their own house (as opposed to multiple families sharing) with indoor plumbing and toilets, and local amenities.  Although Salt was a pious tea totaller with a strange dislike of washing lines and so residents were required to attend church every Sunday, stay off the grass, drink nought but water, and keep their laundry to themselves.

Anyway, Salts Mill is now an art gallery housing all things David Hockney related including old paintings of swimming pools, photo montages, and new ipad produced pics of flowers (erm not his best imo).  The gallery is massive as it used to be the factory but its light and airy and a perfect gallery space, and serves well a giant art book shop- a really really good one btw.  There is also a small gallery space with a permanent exhibition on Sir Titus Salt, and a temp exhibition.  Which is currently some pieces from the Yorkshire Fashion Archive- a project by Leeds University (sigh why didn't I do that course???). 

TBH there wasn't that much there, my mum had told me it was an exhibition on 100 years of fashion but the space is so small I was skeptical they would have much.  The pieces were mainly from the 40's and 50's with one set from the 60's, they also had photographs of the people wearing the clothes, and the places they bought them which touched on the history of the local area.  I find social history interesting, and fashion and clothing* being part of popular culture offer a way to learn about our recent history.  Fashion and clothing do not exist in a vacuum they have affected society and vice versa, so I find it all very interesting.  And tidbit to tell your friends- there was a shop in Yorkshire owned by a man called Montegue who would provide a gentlemen with a full suit including shirt, waistcoat, trousers, jacket, and underwear.  And it was called...The Full Monty!

*Fashion is not necessarily the same as clothes, or clothes that most people actually wear and it never has been.  Fashion by its very nature is constantly changing, making sure there is a new vogue every few months maintains it's exclusivity.  It has therefore always been a preoccupation with those that have time and money, although clothes have become increasingly mass-produced and therefore accessible.  So I think fashion and regular clothes have an interesting relationship.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Fabric, Clothes, and Hair

Good haul today as I went shopping prior to a hair appointment. 
First a stop at Dorothy Perkins and I got these:

There's a cute blue jumper with seahorses on it, a plain black jumper, sensible black work trousers, and a little black dress.  The best part was that they were all in sale- yay!  At full price it would have come to £93!  But they were priced at £40 for all four, and at the till I discovered there further discounts and it came to £27!  (Too many exclamations marks???)  But I'm pleased with my purchases as they are cute but also practical, and on sale. 

Then to Fab Works the fabric store, where all remnants are £1 now.  There wasn't much there today that I wanted and I wish, wish, wish there were more/better fabric stores around here.  This one is the best I've been to though, and I got four pieces for £4.  The light blue piece is huuuuuge but I'm not sure what would be appropriate to make with it, I'd like to make trousers with the dark blue (has pinstripes) but  I've not have a great success rate with trousers, the red flowers piece is very thin so it may become the bodice for a dress, and I'm hoping to make a jacket from the cream piece.

From there I went on to get my hair cut and it looks nice and neat now.

 Check me out- super sexy hair. 

Friday, 13 May 2011

TV Style Icons Troi

If you were wondering, no there is no reason why I do my numbers in french, and no I don't know why I do it.

Today's TV styler comes from a TV programme I find soooooooo dull (kinda like Downton Abbey, except with singing and dancing...) Glee.  It's taken over the world for reasons I don't quite understand, clearly it built from the success of High School Musical but revolves around mediocre remixes of lame songs (oh don't get me wrong the peeps can sing and the songs are super down-with-the-kids but I don't get the point of politely singing a Kanye song- if you don't like him you won't like their version, and if you do like him you won't like their version, and yet everyone likes it).  All the characters are having emotions all the time, then crying about them, telling everyone about them, then bursting into song about them- just exhausting. 

Anyway, from the very first episode there was a diamond in the rough, Emma Pillsbury played by Jayma Mays is totally awesome!  And I'm not the only person to notice, many of my pics are from What Would Emma Wear- a website dedicated to dissecting Emma Pillsburys outfits in each episode. Happily I have a job now so a lack of free time will prevent me from going that crazy!

Emma Pillsbury never wears trousers, loves pencil skirts and nice cardis and vintage jewellery, and she often rocks adorably monochromatic outfits.  Her character is OCD, very prim and proper, hates germs, and her outfits are part of a perfect but incredible stressed exterior.  Observe.

A few of examples of the classic Pillsbury monochromatic looks.

And some of her jewellery, including collar brooches which I don't know the correct name for.                                                                  

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Moving Towards Adjustments

I've been concentrating on making new stuff from scratch, occasionally using old clothes for the fabric to make new stuff but I've avoided customising or altering my existing clothes.  I find it hard to imagine what a boring jumper could turn into or how to alter the fit of something that looks terrible.  But looking at the 'Embellish Your Knits' section on Grosgrain and the Refashion section on Made By Lex* has given me a few ideas.

I had intended to turn a flowery and ill-fitting summer dress into a playsuit (I know, just has so much potential for disaster but I was enthused) but it turned out I had already got rid of the dress I was thinking off.  I found another one that I had bought years ago when my mother insisted I buy a size too big because she always refused to believe I was a size 10.  It was too tight to turn into a playsuit though so I decided to try to save the dressiness of it (even though it's not really the type of stuff I wear now unfortunately) by taking it in. 

The dress was quite big in the bust (when I am small :( and the dress is shirred but had absolutely no need to be whilst I was wearing it!) and in the back where it lacked darts.  So I focus the seam take in at the bust and added two darts in the back.  I tried to make it symmetrical but I just eye balled it as it didn't need to be perfect.  A very simple adjustment that I think made quite a difference.

I think these Before and After shots show the effect really well- I could tell people I've lost a stone in a day- unfortunately all from my chest!


Saturday, 7 May 2011

TV Style Icons deux

Period drama's can provide some nice stylin'- especially in this hectic modern world with mass unemployment and malaise, and nothing to entertain us but 100's of TV channels and a wardrobe revolving around thongs and Ugg boots.  Not surprising that looking back at a past sophistication ( doesn't matter that much when it seems- currently the 50's and 70's and in the high street stores, while the country feels like the 80's with the mass demonstrations against the government matched only by the mass support for a royal wedding) is in right now and we all developed a love of the early 20th century with Downton Abbey. 

The programme itself was slow and dull with rather dull or paternalistic characters (the attitude of the main character being that you should be nice to your servants because 'we all have our parts to play'- meaning those at the bottom should be pleased that their strong shoulders are holding up those at the top of the pyramid, and we should all stop whining).  But the costumes were rather lovely- simple silhouettes  with nice detail elements, and an empire waist is everyone's friend.  Observe:
Dressed Up Glam

Coordinating Summer Looks 
Depressing fact: the servants of DA dress better than I do now!

Unfortunately, there aren't many pictures of the servants (despite nonsense reports that they provide the drama in the drama they are largely ignored).  Equally, the two younger sisters are also overlooked in the promo pics, and I quite liked some of the mean red haired sisters looks, but couldn't bring myself to watch the programme again for stills of her.

Maggie Smith
 As usual I'm totally behind the trends and it was this time last year (i.e when DA was actually on TV!) that clothes were in the stores that would allow you to emulate the fashion, now not so much.  Fashion is so fickle.

Monday, 2 May 2011

TV Style Icons

I was watching an old fave TV show on DVD (I have all 6 series) the past few days and was struck, as I always am, by the outfits they were wearing.  In fact I spent one evening trying (not for the first time) to track down a cowboy print T-shirt or an animal print shirt without success.  It made me muse over other shows with great style- I could only think of a few but I thought I'd share them.  I think part of  good TV show or film is the costume as it's part of the characters and their personalities, but so often it's not considered or it's very fickle.  I would loved to have included some Buffy but they changed their looks at the end of each series like clockwork discarding their mini skirts and over sized sunglasses, and coming back to school in the next series with fringes and twin sets. 

So the show that started it all:
Third Rock From The Sun!

Dick, Sally, Harry, and Tommy are aliens that land and pretend to be humans to study human life.  Their outfits reflect that their not from 'around here', that they're a lower middle class family living in an attic in Rutherford Ohio  (with not enough bedrooms and no sofa!), and their individual personalities.  In America 'vintage' hasn't really taken off in the over priced boutique way it has done here and you get super cheap thrift stores where you can snag a real bargain- I suspect a extremely lucky/stressed costume lady went scouring local thrift stores for quirky/scruffy outfits.

Dick- the egotistical patriarch is the only member of the family with a steady job (physics professor at the local mediocre university) and usually wears a miss-matching suit and clashing tie.  He is dressing smartly for work but in a way that suggests he knows what to do but not exactly how to do- really a common theme in his personality and life.  I couldn't really find very exciting photos for Dick, so pulled a few stills.

Sally- the beautiful, tall, blonde weapons expert is exploring life as a woman, as her character switches dramatically from tough and scary to demure and flirtatious so does her wardrobe.  The key is that she's so tall meaning when she's wearing her casual clothes it looks as though she's borrowed a pair of men's trousers but they're still too short, when she's dressed up her dresses look sooooo short!  In later series she begins wearing little flowery cardigans with her trousers and boots which offers a nice transition between her two looks.

Harry- the quirkiest of the bunch, with no real purpose in the mission or on earth (apart from transmitting message back to the home planet) he hangs around at home occasionally finding things to get involved in.  His clothes are similar to Tommy's (see below) but he layers waistcoats and sweaters over shirts with clashing colours and patterns.

Tommy- the teenage information officer who is actually the oldest member of the team.  Occasionally, his age becomes an issue but usually he dresses and acts like a teenager- quite casual but often with retro style shirts.  His appearance goes through the most changes as he grows from 14-20 ish and he cuts his long hair in series 3 which has a big effect but his outfits stay pretty much the same.

Phew this was a longer post than anticipated, think I'll leave the other shows for tomorrow. :)