Wednesday, 30 January 2013

I'll Be Darned!: Recent vintage alterations/repairs No.2

It has been while since my last round-up of what I've been busy with at I'll Be Darned! Hq, so this post contains some more of the beautiful things that I have had the pleasure of working on recently....

A phenomenal diamante 1920's dress!
A patterned 1920's day dress.

1930's blue velvet 2-piece.

A 1920's embroidered cushion.

 This 1950's "Betty Barclay" dress has a quilted circle skirt.

A lovely 1950's brown cord dress.

Red gingham 1950's dress.

L-R: 1950's black wiggle dress with amazing red lining, and 1950's lace overlay evening dress.

L-R: Wool 1960's shift dress and black & white 1950's dress with orange accents.

 L-R: Beautiful black 1940's dress with beaded bow motif, Black 1950's evening dress with fab red lining and red button.

To find out exactly what I did to each of these beautiful garments, you can pop over to the IBD Facebook page and read more.

Have you got any favourites?
Mine is certainly the 40's beaded motif dress....and of course that amazing 1920's diamante dress!

Pip pip x

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Sew What?: Butterick Retro '47 B5209

Happy Sunday dearest readers!

I do hope you are enjoying your day. I am at present snuggled on the sofa under a blanket, eating sweets and watching Annie. Now that is most certainly what Sundays are all about!

I recently purchased myself a few dressmaking patterns, in an attempt to satisfy my craving for more clothes without breaking the bank. One of those patterns being the Butterick B5209, a reproduction of an original 1947 pattern from their 'Retro' range.

Now, I chose this pattern because it was rated 'easy' according to the packet, and so I thought "what could be more perfect to satisfy my cravings?"...for, when sewing for myself, I am incredibly impatient! Terrible I know, but when I get an idea I want it finished as quickly as possible so I can wear it immediately! I suppose part of it is just that, because I sew for other people for a living (through I'll Be Darned!), sewing for myself often just feels like 'work'.

As it happens, this was the very first time that I've sewed from an actual commercial printed pattern....ever. I am fully aware that that seems ridiculous considering how long I've been sewing, but it is true! I did a degree in fashion, and have over the years made many items for myself and others, however at university we always drafted our own patterns from a 'block', and when making for myself I usually take a item I already have and strategically trace the pieces straight off of the fully constructed garment and then make the relevant changes and add seam allowances to become a pattern to work from. So I must say that at times I had to check and check again what certain markings and terms meant, as they were ones I had not come across before!

When the pattern arrived, I ran out in a snowy blizzard (that's how impatient I am) to my local cheap fabric shops to find something suitable to run it up in. Now, I wasn't too sure how this dress would fit straight from the pattern, so I certainly wanted something cheap so if it wasn't quite right I could treat it as a toile and adjust the pattern before the next time I made it up without feeling like I'd wasted a load of money. Having researched other people's attempts at this dress on the internet, I decided I wanted to try it in a nice slinky material . I've seen lots of lovely examples where people have run it up in a cotton which looks lovely as a sun dress but as the skirt isn't quite my usual shape, I thought I'd try it in a fabric with more hang so as the skirt didn't have the fullness that the cotton versions tend  to have. 

I found a lovely green floral fabric for the bargain price of £1.50 a metre, and I think it has quite a 1940's look to it, don't you?

With the fabric purchased I ran home to get started with cutting the pattern. This is where I began to regret my fabric choice; pinning and cutting my pieces took an absolute age....slinky fabrics slip and slide and warp like nobody's business!

Once I had finally cut my pattern pieces I was able to move on to the sewing! I must say now though that although the pattern professes to be 'easy', I found some stages of the pattern to be terribly badly explained and with diagrams that are hard to decipher. Now I could probably have gone freestyle at these parts using my own sewing knowledge, but I was determined to follow the instructions. So instead I found myself reading, re-reading, staring blankly at the instructions, scratching my head....and reading again! Such instances made the making of the dress much more lengthy that it should have been, but I plodded on and managed to finish it.

Lastly though was the hemming of the skirt. At this point I tried on the dress and discovered that the length of the hem was a little shorted than I would like it to be, pre-hemming. So I went freestyle on this part and decided to use bias binding, using only a narrow hem allowance of 0.6mm and then turned the bias up without folding, and stitched it up by hand, thus leaving as much length in the hem as was possible!

I should have used a green bias binding, but I was rushing to have this finished before I lost momentum, and had only black, navy or burgundy in my black it was.

I also at this point discovered that the bodice was rather too long and thus created an  unsightly wrinkly/baggy under-bust area, so I took the wasit up a little at the front of the bodice which solved this problem. I don't know whether anyone else has found the same problem or whether I am just a bizzare shape- although I must say it's not a problem I have had before with any garment!

I also found that the neckline was too low for my liking. It came low enough to expose my bra (I wear the Triumph Doreen bra, which comes rather higher than modern high street bras), so in future I will have to adapt the pattern to remedy this!

Do you want to see the finished dress?


During the process of sewing this dress I was invited to attend Blitz Party, acquiring a ticket last minute. So although the dress was a later pattern than the strict WW2 era dress code the website insists upon, I thought that this would be the perfect event to air my new dress! (As it turns out, I needn't have been so nervous about the dress being from a later pattern as there were many a 50's-style polka dot circle skirt and pant-flashingly short floral mini-dresses!)

This is a photo on my way out to Blitz Party, showing how the dress fits on me:

I wore my lovely new Clarks shoes, bought in the sale for £40, which I think have quite a nice 1940's platform look to them. I accessorised them with some matching shoe clips I made from scraps of the dress fabric!

I wore one of my handmade hair flowers and a set of diamante jewellery. The diamante earrings were from a supermarket of all places! The necklace is one of a few I have been given over the years. And although you can't see it in these photos, I wore a beautiful diamante dress clip my Mumma gave me at the centre front of the bodice, which hid my bra and the revealing neckline (which I had temporarily safety pinned together, classy!).

I also wore my amazing black 1930's bag, which I picked up a few months ago from a charity shop for a mere £2!

So, how do I feel about this dress after it is all sewed up? Well, although there are a few little problems to iron out the next time I work from the pattern, these are all pretty minor and fixable! For a dress that cost a grand total of..........£5.......yes, five whole, teeny, tiny pounds, I can't very much complain! And I'm sure that made up in a light cotton it will be a much quicker project too.
I shall certainly be making this dress again. However, I just hope that next time I use this pattern I remember how I did those badly explained bits that had me stumped first time round.

Have any of you lovely ladies had any experience of this pattern? If so, did you find it easy to use or stumble across any problems?

Pip pip! x

Thursday, 17 January 2013

When an outfit just comes together....and my very first Miss L Fire's!

I did it, I was naughty and treated myself to some Miss L Fire shoes from their sale. 
But boy oh boy were they worth it!

I just can't stop looking at them....

I opted for the Fern, which were £45 in the sale. I could have bought many others but my purse just wouldn't allow it (oh my, do they know how to make a beautiful shoe)! But these are a green-and-brown dream.

The moment they arrived my mind started reeling for outfits I could wear with them...and I came up with a rather perfect one. 
Don't you just love it when that happens?

 Rust coloured 1940's silk shirt: secondhand/antique emporium.
1940's style pinafore skirt: made by me (I forgot to get a close-up picture, but by total coincidence the straps button to the skirt with lovely rust coloured buttons too)

Autumnal hair flowers: made by me (Rosie Alia Designs)
Acorn brooch: a Christmas gift, from Luxulite
The beautiful shoes of joy: Miss L Fire
Green plastic beads: charity shop

Now I need to start racking my brains for some other perfectly coordinating outfits for these shoes.
I think I may have to get my sewing machine out for some projects based around these beauties!

Pip pip x

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Christmas and New Year....festive time photos!

Happy New Year!

.....I'm not even going to mention the long blogging absence-shaped elephant in the room....ahem....

I hope all you lovely people enjoyed an amazing festive period, and are enjoying the beginning of this brand spanking new year!

I just thought I'd do a post rounding up how I spent my time over Christmas and New Years! As I'm cramming them all into one post, be warned, it is picture heavy indeed!

Just before Christmas I popped to my Mums local charity shops and picked up this amazing collection of vintage decorations!

A snap of a dressed down Christmas Eve (daytime) outfit...
A newly purchased 1940's silk blouse: £8, secondhand/collectors emporium.
Green and black silk headscarf: bought many moons ago from goodness knows where!
Green plastic beads: charity shop.
1940's repro trousers: Heyday.

A few Christmas snaps, including a photo of me and my chums at our traditional Christmas Eve gathering, and my little sister's adorable letter to Santa.

Christmas morning arrived and I awoke at the ungodly hour of 6am.....
Santa hadn't even delivered my stocking yet. I closed my eyes and TRIED to get back to sleep, but to absolutely no avail. So instead I (im)patiently awaited footsteps outside my door and a reasonable hour. But the moment I heard a rustle outside the door, I leaped up, harassed a very grumpy boyfriend to wake up, then plonked our stockings on our feet and commenced stocking opening in a frenzy of paper!

Then, we went downstairs and popped the tv on (a Christmas edition of Horrible Histories) and eagerly awaited the parents coming downstairs!

And then came PRESENTS! And boy did my nearest and dearest do well, as usual....

A flying V ukelele! This is my second ukelele, so I really should learn to play them.

A selection of my execellent presents....including a matching lurex bag and compact once belonging to my Step Mums grandmother, a black velvet dressmakers dummy, antique sewing scissors, a gold tea set, a book by Jon Ronson and taxidermy!

 After tearing through copious amount of wrapping paper to reveal many a fabulous present, we rushed off upstairs to get dressed before the arrival of family for more present opening and breakfast and booze.

This is my chosen Chirstmas outfit. Because if you can't wear red and green on Chrsitmas Day, when can you? 
Green plastic beads: charity shop.
Green cardigan: Primark.
Red 1940's dress: a birthday present from my Mum and Aunts, from Mishka Vintage.
Green belt: H&M

I wore my hair on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in a fine hairnet hand-beaded with gold beads, over a curl set, and lots of festive hair flowers.
Hair net and hair flowers: by me (Rosie Alia Designs)

This was my Dad's chosen outfit. The monkey mask was worn to answer the door to the rest of the family, obviously.

Later on, after an amazing dinner, me and Mr Mike drove over to my Mum's to spend the rest of Christmas Day with the rest of my family.

This included even more present opening, and even more food....along with a one AM game of Just Dance with my little sister and cousin.

More lovely presents, including matching handkerchief and glove boxes, a tiny set of amazing vintage nativity figurines, a stocking made by my 10 year old sister....

...and this beauty! A 1930's toaster, which my Mum got my Grandad to rewire so I can actually use it. *Swoon*

Me and Mike got to sleep in my Mum's lovely Shepherds Hut on Christmas Day which is always exciting.

We then did LOTS of travelling, heading up to Mr Mike's family in Lincolnshire for Christmas number 3, then back to our London flat for 2 days, then I hopped back on a train to Norwich to spend New Years back with my family.

My NYE outfit. I was particularly chuffed with my hair.
Cath Kidston tea dress: charity shop.
Plastic bead necklace: charity shop.
Red patent shoes: M&S sale, £9.
Festive hair flowers, again by me.

I went with my family to their friend's house for a party, where we ate copious amounts of wine-spiked cheese fondue, drank very odd shots of all types, and I played a 5 hour Monopoly game with the kids!

Congratulations dear readers, if you have in fact made it this far. 
I did warn you it would be picture heavy!

I hope you all had a fabulous time too!

Pip pip x