A Christmas Dress (in April)

Back in December (when Christmas was in the future), I was invited to a Christmas party for the band I’m in. I decided to make a new dress for the occasion – because why not!?

I was in the mood for something sparkly/shiny and found this amazing fabric from the New Craft House. I think I got the last metre, which was just enough to make this dress.

I used the Inari pattern from Named as the basis for this dress, but I wanted to add more fullness to the hem than the dress version is drafted with. I didn’t, however, write any notes about what I did. If memory serves, I placed all the pattern pieces on the fabric and extended the tee from under the arm to as wide as it would do for the width of the fabric.

Since this is a woven fabric, I used the facings included with the pattern but I think I stretched out the neckline of the dress a bit – it’s definitely wider than I would have preferred. Lesson for next time – stay stitch the neckline.

I do enjoy how slinky the fabric is and I hope this dress will be a little more wearable for more occasions than a lot of the other things I’ve made for specific events.

I think one of my favourite details of the Inari pattern is the sleeve cuffs.

Did you sew a Christmas dress/outfit this year? I bet you’re not as late sharing it as me!

 

 

Designer Inspiration: Yves Saint-Laurent

‘In 1985, Caroline Rennolds Milbank wrote, “The most consistently celebrated and influential designer of the past twenty-five years, Yves Saint Laurent can be credited with both spurring the couture’s rise from its 1960s ashes and with finally rendering ready-to-wear reputable.”‘ (source)

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YSL is credited with introducing the tuxedo for women, calling it ‘Le Smoking’. I was actually tempted to make a version of the original 60s tuxedo for the Sewcialite Soiree (for which I made a mustard corduroy suit instead) but decided if I got hot and took the jacket off, I would look like a waiter!

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I personally prefer the version above over the version below, but both must have been equally ground-breaking in a time when a lot of women probably didn’t even wear trousers, let alone a suit.

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‘At the age of 17, Saint Laurent moved to Paris and enrolled at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, where his designs quickly gained notice. Michel De Brunhoff, the editor of French Vogue, introduced Saint Laurent to designer Christian Dior, a giant in the fashion world. “Dior fascinated me,” Saint Laurent later recalled. “I couldn’t speak in front of him. He taught me the basis of my art. Whatever was to happen next, I never forgot the years I spent at his side.”‘ (source)

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‘Although Dior recognised his talent immediately, Saint Laurent spent his first year at the House of Dior on mundane tasks, such as decorating the studio and designing accessories. Eventually, however, he was allowed to submit sketches for the couture collection; with every passing season, more of his sketches were accepted by Dior. In August 1957, Dior met with Saint Laurent’s mother to tell her that he had chosen Saint Laurent to succeed him as designer.’ (source)

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‘In 1957, Saint Laurent found himself at age 21 the head designer of the House of Dior. His spring 1958 collection almost certainly saved the enterprise from financial ruin; the straight line of his creations, a softer version of Dior’s New Look, catapulted him to international stardom with what would later be known as the “trapeze dress”. Others included in the collection were dresses with a narrow shoulder and flared gently at the bottom. At this time, he shortened his surname to Saint Laurent because the international press found his hyphenated triple name difficult to spell’ (source)

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Saint Laurent was fired by the House of Dior in 1960 after less than stellar follow up collections but sued them for breach of contract and won. He then set up his eponymous line with his partner Pierre Berge.

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One of Saint-Laurent’s most iconic designs must be the Mondrian dress (which had a resurgence a couple of years ago thanks to the Sewing Bee). It’s so completely 60s! I do love it. Maybe I’ll make a version one day?!

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‘In the 1960s and 1970s, the firm popularised fashion trends such as the beatnik look; safari jackets for men and women; tight trousers; tall, thigh-high boots; and arguably the most famous classic tuxedo suit for women in 1966, Le Smoking. The 1965 Mondrian collection was particularly renowned. Saint Laurent also started mainstreaming the idea of wearing silhouettes from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.[citation needed] Yves Saint Laurent brought in new changes to the fashion industry in the 60s and the 70s. The French designer opened his Pret-a-Porter House YSL Rive Gauche in 1967 where he was starting to shift his focus from Haute Couture to Ready-to-wear. One of the purpose was to provide a wider range of fashionable style being available to choose from in the market as they were affordable and cheaper.’ (source)

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And, of course, like most big name designers of the 60s and 70s, Yves Saint-Laurent released sewing patterns!

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I love the yellow version (unsurprisingly)

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I think pattern envelope designers (from the big 4) could learn something from times gone by!

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I love this coat!

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I kind of love this dress, but I’m not sure how well it would work on anyone with boobs! I guess that’s true of a lot of 60s fashion though.

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What’s your favourite YSL look?

Sequined Bomber Jacket

Quite a while ago Fabric Godmother had this amazing sequined fabric and I had to snap some up!

And my immediate thought was to make a bomber jacket out of it – especially after googling to find inspiration pics and finding out that loads of designers make sequined bomber jackets.

Sorry not sorry for all of the photos, I’m in love with this make and want to wear it all the time!

The pattern is McCalls 7100, which looks terrible from the styling on the pattern cover, but is actually a great bomber jacket pattern when you look at the line drawing. I actually had this pattern in my mind for if I ever decided to make a bomber jacket after seeing Sew Dainty’s lovely floral version.

I made the size small and made no changes – it’s only semi-fitted and I didn’t want it to be skin tight, though I don’t think I’ll  be able to get a thick jumper underneath!

The ribbing I got from my local sewing shop, along with the zip. I’m not sure I love it as much zipped up, but I’m glad there is the possibility to zip it up. I used a pack of cuffs for the cuffs (obviously!) and 2 packs of ribbing for the hem band and the collar. Luckily this pattern comes with a pattern piece for the collar so there’s no guess work involved.

This jacket is not lined, but since the sequined fabric was see-through I underlined it and bound all the seams with a matching binding, also from my local shop. The lining fabric was (I think) from Minerva Crafts. I think the colour was peach as I kind of wanted it to look almost like my skin tone was showing through, but the fabric was a but more pink than I thought it would be – but I think it looks okay.

The binding isn’t my neatest work every, but it serves the purpose of enclosing and hiding all the raw edges.

I really like the detail on the front where there is a square of matching fabric either side of the zip before the ribbing is attached.

I went for black ribbing, zip and pocket flaps (which are made of some mystery black fabric I had in my stash) because the lines on the sequins are black and I thought it would be the most neutral colour to pick out of the sequins – and the easiest to match in all the different bits.

 

Do you every make something and think ‘this is bonkers, I love it’?!? I have! And I’m so glad I’ve got something silly to wear to cheer me up in the dark times we’re currently living through.

I think that’s why I love sewing so much – you can make something you can imagine in your head into a real garment you can wear. And I find what I wear can really affect my mood – if I wear something colourful or that I feel really reflects my style and what I want to present to the world then I’m in a much better mood than if I wear something dull (or have to wear 8 layers of clothes to be warm enough to be at work!). Do you find that?

 

 

The Hundred Years Wardrobe Project

Since I’ve been sewing for a while I’ve decided to try to challenge myself to expand my skills and to sew garments and with fabrics that are outside of my comfort zone. And so was born my idea for the Hundred Years Wardrobe Project.

I’m going to sew one thing from each decade of the 20th Century. There is no time limit for this as I want it to be a fun exercise and deadlines are often where stress lies for me.

I’m going to also try to do some posts about my research for each decade and share some of my inspiration. A while ago I did write some posts about fashion history but I ran out of steam with them – hopefully with a garment to relate the history to I will have more to say and more to share. Some of the makes will be inspired by fashion and some will be from films – either made at the time or set in the past.

I would love it if anyone else wants to join in with this project – I’m calling it a project rather than a challenge as there is no deadline and there will be no prizes, just the pride in having made something cool!

Spoiler alert: I already have my first make made and ready to blog soon!

Style Crush: Kerry Washington

Last month I decided to start watching Scandal, which is all on Amazon Prime, to see what all the fuss was about, and because I love Joshua Malina on The West Wing Weekly podcast. I can’t decide if Scandal is good or not – it feels like a soap with a bigger budget, which is fine but not what I thought it was. Anyway I’ve decided I’m a bit in love with Kerry Washington. She is so so beautiful! And I love her style, so I thought I would share some of my favourite looks with you, in no particular order.

I really love the simplicity of the silhouette of this dress, coupled with the graduating colour of the sequins. If I had an exciting party to go to, I might make a copy of this!


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This dress looks like a pretty good idea for this hot Summer weather we’re having. It’s a bit Halston to me, and coupled with her more natural hair, it looks really effortless.

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This is another of my absolute favourite looks – I know she was styled for Elle magazine here, so they’re not necessarily her clothes, but I really want to copy this outfit. I love the proportions and the colour, and the tunic/dress could be worn on its own, which would give you a 60s vibe. I also really want to get a pair of those shoes!


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I like the silhouette of this outfit and the use of the reverse of the fabric on the top compared to the dress underneath.


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You know how much I like yellow. Nuff said!


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She seems to be so good at choosing simple but chic outfits for the red carpet, and this Lanvin (I think) dress is no different. The fit is so impeccable and I love the bow detail on the shoulder.


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I really love the bedazzled lips, matchsticks and jewels on this blush pink colour.


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This pink is perfect on her and I really love the panelling on the skirt. More inspiration to copy for next year’s Dressmaker’s Ball?


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This might be my absolute favourite look I’ve found.  It definitely has a 70s vibe, especially with the clogs and I love her hair here. Definitely inspiration for a cute denim Summer dress, and I love how the topstitching adds an extra layer of detail.


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More sequined dress inspiration! I love the neckline and shoulders on this. I reckon I could recreate it using the Tilly and the Buttons Martha Dress, which I have but haven’t made yet.


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Not sure about the 60s beehive but I love the dress – the fabric having the squares pattern on makes it more interesting.

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I love how she wears maybe more grown up looks and then younger looks like this dress, which is definitely made cooler with the booties and the loose up-do.


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And I couldn’t resist sharing this look – I love the sculptural style of the dress and how the white patches look almost like a lapel. And I love the blunt hair with the straight lines of the dress.


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Have you watched Scandal? Do you love Kerry Washington as much as I do?