My Dressmakers’ Ball Dress (AKA Red Carpet Copycat)

After I shared a sneaky peak of what I was making for the Dressmakers’ Ball, I am now here to show you the finished outfit (which you may have already seen if you follow me on Instagram!)

But first I want to share a little bit about the ball itself……it was amazing! It was run by the lovely ladies at Crafty Sew & So, a fabric shop in Leicester. It was so nice to see everyone go all out when given the excuse – and I’m sure some of us don’t need much of an excuse! I kept thinking how awesome it was that sewing allows us to express ourselves exactly as we want to. I can’t imagine how painful it is shopping for a prom dress, or even a wedding dress, and not finding exactly what you want. My prom dress was made by my mum and now I know if I’m going to a wedding or something, whatever I can imagine that I want to wear I can make (within the boundaries of my skills of course!).

These are all the ‘advanced’ dressmakers (which meant you had been sewing for 3 or more years). The photo is by TKL Photography, and I thought it was great that they had a professional photographer taking pictures because whenever I’m having a good time I don’t think to take any (which I guess it how it should be!)

I went with my friend Sarah who I met at the Sew Brizzle meet ups and Jen, also from Bristol, was there too (though she didn’t take part in the competition so isn’t in the photo above).

I was really impressed with the beginner dressmakers too – they had all been sewing for less than 3 years, and some of them had made their dress for the ball and it was the first or second thing they every made! They were a lot, lot, lot better than the first and second things I made, I can tell you! I tried to take some photos, but they’re all terrible and mostly of people’s backs, so do go check out the photo album on CraftySew&So’s facebook page.

Special shout out goes to Kendell, who I sat next to at dinner, and who won the beginner dressmaker category. She has only been sewing since September! (Photo by TKL Photography). Amazing!

Helen from Stitch My Style (who I’ve had a bit of a girl crush on for a while now because I love her vlogs!) won the advanced dressmaker category for her latest recreation project – after the amazingness that was her Marilyn Monroe Dress – the opera dress from Pretty Woman. It truly was a wonder to behold, and she had completely shelf-drafted it. She is a very talented lady! Also I got to chat to her a little bit on the night, and the next morning when some people met for breakfast and she’s as lovely and funny in real life as you’d expect from her videos.

Here she is (left) with the equally lovely Elisalex from By Hand London, who was one of the judges, and Nina from Nina Lee patterns, who I met a couple of years ago at a meet-up and I was surprised she remembered me – for some reason I always assume people will forget me as soon as I leave the room!

Well, this might be enough chat about how great the ball was and maybe I should show you some photos of my dress?

Here it is from the front – looks kind of boring I think, though it is a good colour – the fabric is the leftovers from my By Hand London Alix Dress. The bodice is the Christine Haynes Emery, which is my go to basic bodice as I did quite a bit of fitting back when I first made it, and I’m too lazy to do it all again with a different pattern! The front skirt, though it a sort of made up thing. I used the skirt I drafted for my Navy Lace dress but I extended it to the ground and made the top of the skirt the same length as the bottom of the bodice (plus seam allowances, of course).

There is also a split up the front of the skirt. I did this using a random tutorial I found online, where you make a sort of facing, sewing either side of the line you want for the split, cut the line between the 2 rows of stitching, then turn it to the inside and voila! You have a split, with the raw edges all enclosed. I then handstitched the facing part to the inside using herringbone stitch – there was a lot of handsewing on this dress as the fabric marks quite easily, so where I might have machined a hem on a less ball-worthy dress, I did it all by hand on this one.

You also might be able to see there are trousers underneath my dress. I thought about buying the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers pattern, but then I remembered I have Gertie Sews Vintage Casual which has a Cigarette Trousers pattern, so I used that.

I did have to do quite a bit of adjusting to the trousers, but I failed to write any notes so I’m stuffed if I want to make them again! I moved the back zip to one of the side seams, shortened the legs on the pattern by an inch below the knee and then took them in quite a lot on the legs. Like an inch or more on each leg, inside and out.  They didn’t look perfect but they looked okay. And they fitted okay across the bum from the beginning, so that was a bonus!

Anyway, the interesting thing about my outfit is the back!

As you may have already recognised, this is a copy of an outfit worn by Emma Watson at the Golden Globes a couple of years ago. I tried to recreate her pose, but it didn’t really work. I added a second strap to hide my bra strap. Also I have no idea how her dress is staying up – I added some really strong interfacing to mine, but it still wasn’t quite enough. Luckily Helen from Stitch My Style had some spare (ehem) tit tape so Sarah stuck the top corners to my back, which was great because otherwise I would have spent the whole night adjusting it!

I love how the wind caught the dress in the above photo! The fabric was pleasingly swishy to dance in, but because it’s only half a dress and because of the split, it wasn’t as swirly as Elisalex’s dress, which was definitely one of the best for twirling in!

I’m pretty proud of my pleating on the back, so here’s a close-up. This fabric creases like a bitch, but it does mean once pleats have been ironed in, they stay!

This is me trying to copy Emma Watson’s pose – semi successful I think. If I had a stylist and someone to teach me how to pose, it might have been closer! Oh well!

Emma Watson Christian Dior, Golden Globes

To sum up, I really love this dress/outfit! I really enjoyed working out how to recreate something I’ve only seen in photos. And it was great to have an opportunity/excuse to make one of the things I’ve been dreaming about making for aaages! I also, surprisingly, enjoyed all of the handsewing. I think next year – assuming they’re running the ball again – I want to make something with a more tricky fabric to work with. Maybe velvet, which I’ve not sewn with yet. And I’d like to give boning a try. I’ve already got an idea in mind of another red carpet copy cat dress, but I’m not going to share it yet because no doubt I will change my mind by next May! I might try to recreate some others of my favourite red carpet looks too, like the less formal ones – I don’t know how many gowns I’ll need in my wardrobe!

I’ll leave you with another photo of our photography assistant who showed up again as The Boyfriend was taking these photos! You may recognise him from the photos I took of my denim moss skirt. I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but he lost an eye a few months ago, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed him down.

He seemed pretty determined to photobomb me!

But I couldn’t resist his lovely face. He really is a friendly cat and comes into our flat if we leave our back door open 🙂

Save

Save

Save

 

 

Save

Wardrobe Architect Week 9: The Capsule Wardrobe

After covering all the things that have been covered in the previous few weeks of the Wardrobe Architect, Colette say now is the time to put it into practical terms by coming up with a capsule wardrobe.

“A capsule wardrobe is a small, manageable subset of your wardrobe, and it usually is something you can plan seasonally (twice a year, or perhaps 4 times a year).

A typical capsule wardrobe consists of between 20 and 33 items, depending on who you ask and what kinds of items you’re including. It doesn’t have to include every single thing you might wear for the season, but it is the foundation for the rest of your wardrobe. The idea is that once you have the capsule wardrobe figured out, the rest is gravy.”

I feel like I’m getting slightly better at knowing what I wear and making accordingly, but I do have some gaps in my me mades and some alternative silhouettes I think I could explore.

The original post gives these handy prompts:

  1. Choose one to six silhouettes for the season.
  2. Create a color palette.
  3. Break down your silhouettes and colors into a list of pieces.
  4. Organize what to make, what to buy, and what you already own.

1. Choose one to six silhouettes for the season

Since Summer is so short in the UK I tend not to focus so much on warm weather clothing, so I think my silhouettes will be for all year around – just maybe in different fabrics or without tights and cardigans in the Summer. Also I’ve covered a lot of this before in the week about exploring shapes, but it helps me to see things visually.

a. Skinny jeans/trousers with looser tops and shirts – I’m particularly drawn to button ups at the moment

b. Looser trousers with loose tops

I’m liking the coulotte trend at the moment, and I think they would be comfortable when it does get hot. Again I like them with loosers style tops.

c. Shift/swing dresses

d. Mini skirts with loose and/or cropped tops.

e. Cardigans, jackets and coats have pretty much been summed up in the above photos (which can all be found on my Wardrobe Architect Pinterest board).

2. Choose a colour palette.

I’ve covered my colour palette in the week about my colour story and the one about choosing a palette, but I’ll recap here.

3 & 4. Break down your silhouettes and colors into a list of pieces.Organize what to make, what to buy, and what you already own.

I’m going to cover these 2 together in terms of planning what to make, and looking at what I’ve already got. I’ve got more tops I think that anything else.

My blue patterned Melilot shirt (left) and my blue spotty archer see quite a lot of wear and they fit my palette and silhouettes.

Blue Patterned Melilot ShirtBlue Spotty Archer Button Up

I’ve got some short of cropped, and boxy-ish tops too, which I wear quite often, such as my silver toaster sweater and my mustard astoria top.

Mustard Ponte Seamwork Astoria

I have some nice shift/cocoony dresses, like my new Marianne dress, my electric blue peppermint magazine jersey dress, my drapey knit dress and my rushcutter.

#SewDots GBSB Drapey Knit DressNavy Spotty Rushcutter Dress

So then in terms of what to make, here are my plans (which will probably take a year to complete!)

Ginger Jeans in black and dark blue (and possibly mustard if I’m feeling bold in the future) and Morgan Jeans in dark blue and a lighter shade of denim.

I’ve got both the Papercut Guise Trousers and the Butterick B6178 (which came free with one of the magazines I’ve bought recently) and I think this has me pretty much covered to recreate the silhouettes above. I don’t have any specific fabric or colours in mind, but I think with the coulottes I want some more summery colours/prints. I might copy the stripey ones above too. And I like the spotty trousers above which I could copy with the guise pattern. I like the idea of patterned bottoms – I tend to wear plain bottoms and patterned tops.

I recently treated myself to both the Sew Over It Nancy Dress and the Pauline Alice Xerea Dress, so I should be able to make dresses in my dream silhouettes. I have some nice navy, grey and white patterned viscose which I’m planning for the Nancy and I’m thinking some colour blocking for the Xerea.

I’ve got the Closet Case Patterns Ebony Tee and Dress and the Named Patterns Inari Tee and Dress so between them they should cover most eventualities of tops (and dresses as alternatives to the ones above).

I also want to make 2 coats – one proper winter coat, maybe in a 60s style like the one from the 2nd Great British Sewing Bee book, and one a rip-off of Seasalt’s lovely duffle coats using the Colette Albion pattern.

Sea Salt Yellow Duffel Coat

Well I think that’s probably enough things to be getting on with for now! Maybe eventually I’ll reach peak capsule wardrobe. I’ll probably also still always make random things that don’t fit into the capsule!

Save

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Me Made May 2017 recap

My pledge for Me Made May this year was to wear at least one item of me made (or refashioned) clothing each day in May. And I managed it! Yay! I remember when I first started sewing it was a couple of years before I felt like I had enough clothes to be able to take part, so to have enough to wear something every day is pretty cool.

Week One:

Day 1: black simplicity 2451 with my newest charity shop jumper; Day 2: navy spotty rushcutter dress; Day 3: navy blue simplicity trousers and red and blue checked violet blouse; Day 4: spotty drapey knit dress; Day 5: bright blue jersey dress; Days 6 & 7 blue spotty archer with rtw jeans.

Week Two:

Day 8: navy blue simplicity trousers and turquoise coco top; Day 9: black simplicity 2451 skirt and pink stripey banksia top; Day 10: silver toaster sweater; Day 11: flowery archer with rtw jumper and trousers; Day 12: my dressmaker’s ball dress; Days 12 & 13: refashioned coral mustard and navy dress into a shirt; Day 14: blue spotty archer.

 

Week Three:

Day 15: refashioners shirt refashion; Day 16: semi-successful moneta dress with mustard astoria; Day 17: black simplicity 2451 with my favourite charity shop jumper; Day 18: refashioned dress with peter pan collar; Day 19: navy simplicity trousers and electric blue coco top; Day 20: refashioned teapot dress; Day 21: simplicity trousers and my favourite charity shop jumper.

Week Four (and a bit)

Day 22: navy simplicity 2451 skirt and melilot shirt; Day 23: silver delphine skirt and rtw jumper; Day 24: navy scribble striped marianne dress; Day 25: wide-legged trousers I took in at the waist with breton striped plantain tee; Day 26: denim moss skirt with my merchant and mills sewing t shirt; Day 27: Gertie cigarette trousers (as part of my dressmaker’s ball outfit) with a rtw jumper and the coat I made from my Grandma’s vintage pattern; Days 28 & 29: Coco t shirt and rtw jeans; Day 30: navy simplicity trousers and silver toaster sweater; Day 31: electric blue jersey dress.
Things I’ve learned from Me Made May:

  • I hate taking daily photos. Thankfully The Boyfriend was a good instagram husband and took most of them for me, but quite often I’d realise we hadn’t taken a photo when I went to bed!
  • My simplicity trousers got a lot of wear. I definitely need more trousers I can wear at work – though I also wear them on days off too.
  • Quite often (unless I was wearing a dress) I would either have a top or a bottom but not a full outfit, so I need to make more pieces that go together. Hopefully by the time I’ve finished the Wardrobe Architect I’ll have ideas for more of a capsule wardrobe.
  • I failed to refashion anything in May, which was another part of my pledge. I have a bunch of clothes ready for alteration, so hopefully this month I’ll get back into refashioning.
  • There were a whole bunch of things I’ve made – mostly when I first started sewing which I haven’t worn this year and didn’t wear last year, so I’m going to have a wardrobe clear out to get rid of things I know I’m not going to wear.
  • I definitely need to make jeans, and more casual things to wear on my days off.
  • I found wearing dresses easier than putting together separates, so I’m planning to make a few more dresses. They’re also good for hot weather – if we get more hot weather than the one week we had in the middle of May!
  • It was nice to rediscover some of the clothes I’ve made or refashioned which I haven’t worn for a while.
  • There weren’t that many things I wore more than once (apart from my trousers and simplicity skirts), so I think I don’t need loads and loads more clothes, so I’ll try to be more thoughtful about what I make from now on.

What did you learn if you took part in Me Made May? Did you succeed in your pledge?

Save

Save

Save

April Makes and May Plans

Well, another month has come around! I can’t believe how quickly this year is going – is that a sign that I’m getting old?

I didn’t manage to blog much in April, but since I had a week off work, I did manage to make a few things! I sometimes find I either have time to make things or to blog about them, but not both. Does anyone else find that?

Hopefully you’ll have already seen the triumph that was my first pair of trousers! If not, you can read more about them here.

I also made a denim Moss skirt, pretty much like the one I made for my sister – I made mine from the leftover fabric from hers. I added the hem band, though, whereas hers was just a lengthened version of the mini length. I like that they ended up a little different.

I also made one of my #2017MakeNine, a Marianne Dress. It looks much better on my body than it does on a hanger! I’ll take some photos and blog about it in more detail soon. I think this might become one of my go-to patterns for jersey shift dresses. It’s a really lovely shape (though not on the hanger!).

Eagle-eyed readers will spot I didn’t quite make everything on my list that I had planned to make in April. This is partly because I’ve been making my Dressmaker’s Ball dress, which has taken a surprising amount of time – I don’t seem to have made much progress the last couple of weekend days I spent sewing, but I’m pretty much at the point of hand-sewing the hems and a couple of other little bits and pieces.

So my other plans for May are pretty much the ones I didn’t get around to in April:

My boaty Carolyn Pajamas

Hopefully some jeans

And I do have one addition, which I hadn’t planned before – a Roberts Collection dungaree dress from some black textured mystery fabric I got at the fabric swap at the first Sew Brizzle meet-up.

I think that should be enough for one month, especially since I’m probably going to make something for my nephew’s birthday too – so pretty inevitably I probably won’t make everything here, but I’ll do my best!

I’m also taking part in Me Made May again this year, so you can follow my progress over on Instagram if you’re interested to see how I wear my homemade wardrobe in my actual life. My pledge is to wear at least one me-made item each day through the month of May, though I imagine to manage it there will be quite a few repeats! I also am hoping to refashion something this month as I used to do it quite often, but haven’t done any in ages, but I have a whole loads of garments ready to be given a new lease of life!

Are you taking part in Me Made May? Will I see you at the Dressmaker’s Ball? I’m really quite excited about it, but also a little nervous – I’m glad some of the ladies I know from Bristol will be there!

Save
 

Fabric shopping in Birmingham

Last Saturday I went with some of the ladies I met at Sew Brizzle to go fabric shopping in Birmingham. I was sad to have missed the bigger meet up the previous week but in a way it was nice to go in a small group as it gave me the chance to chat with everyone (which I didn’t manage to do the time I went to a big London meet-up).

Here we are outside Guthrie and Ghani. Thanks to Sarah from Like Sew Amazing for the photo – she remembered to take pictures when I didn’t! A very kind man took this picture for us 🙂

From left to right: Karen, Amy, Me, Sarah, Ruth and Jen.

Our first stop was Fancy Silk Store. I felt a little overwhelmed when we first went in as it’s deceptively big – and has an upstairs – and I couldn’t take everything in! I did spot that they had reasonably priced denim and after we’d been around some other shops, we circled back and I bought some stretch and non-stretch denim for Ginger and Morgan wearable toiles.

This is the stretch one – it has a nice flecked weave and looks a little like linen, but is thicker. It was £6.99 per metre and I got 1.4m.

And this is the non-stretch. I did want something a bit lighter for my Morgans, but this will do for a practice. It is a little lighter than the stretch one. It was £7.99 per metre and I got 1.6m.

After this first shop we headed into the rag market, where there are loads of fabric stalls, inside and out. I had made the mistake of not taking out any cash as I thought if I did I wouldn’t buy anything! But I did have enough to get some black and some white cotton twill (I think it was twill and not drill, anyone know the difference?!).

I’m planning a 60s style colour blocked Tilly and the Buttons Megan Dress. I bought 2 metres of the black and one of the white, and it came to £12 in total (so £4 per metre). I bought this fairly early on and for some reason it weighs loads, so I got pretty sick of carrying it around by the end of the day – I was glad I waited until the end to get the denim!

After the rag market, we all got on a bus and went to Moseley to visit Guthrie and Ghani. I was not-so-secretly hoping we would go there, and I’m so glad I was with people who knew how to get there! I just followed 🙂 I could easily have spent a small fortune in Guthrie and Ghani – you can tell everything is really good quality. And the shop is so pretty!

I decided to treat myself to a couple of patterns which I wanted – the Ebony Tee and Dress by Closet Case Patterns and the Guise Pants by Papercut Patterns.

They have a really great selection of remnants and I couldn’t help picking up a couple of them. I just loved the pattern on this Robert Kaufman cotton. It’s navy blue, though it looks kind of black in the photo. It seems to be called Storm Drown, and I can’t find it anywhere online so I guess it’s not available. This bolt end was 275cm x 90cm and was £15.50. I’m hoping there will be enough for a Colette Aster blouse.

I also couldn’t resist this gorgeous mustard loopback jersey. The photo doesn’t do the colour justice, nor how soft it is. It’s honestly one of the softest fabrics I’ve ever touched. It was £6.50 and there’s only 155cm x 40cm so I’m not sure what I’ll be able to make, but I had to have it.

The final thing I bought from Guthrie and Ghani was this coral crepe fabric. It has a lovely drape and a slightly mottled texture and I got 1.7m of it at £10.50 per metre. This is one of the more expensive fabrics I’ve bought, but the Anderson Blouse I’m planning to make will still only cost £17.85 which is pretty good for a blouse made of such nice fabric!

The last fabric shop we went to was Barry’s. I would have no idea how to find it on my own, but it’s definitely a hidden treasure!

This is another shop that is very, very full of fabrics and I think you could easily spend 4 hours in there and still not see everything!

I did manage to find one treasure, thanks to Jen (Gingerella). It’s this nice blueish-greyish cotton and I bought 2 metres – I can’t remember how much I paid, though. I think I’ll make a short-sleeved Melilot Shirt for when the weather finally gets warm!

So there we go, that’s my haul for a day’s shopping. Not too bad I think. Have you been fabric shopping in Birmingham? Did we miss anywhere good?

 

Save

Save