Sunday, 29 March 2015

Afternoon Tea At Criterion

Criterion is based at Piccadilly circus and is surprisingly hidden in plain sight. I have walked past it many times and been totally oblivious to its presence. I saw it advertised on a voucher website which prompted my visit.

Criterion is an old, English establishment - over a hundred years old - and is still in the same location. Inside the restaurant is splendidly opulent. My photo does not do it justice. Glittering gold ceiling and mirrored walls, very fairy tale-esque. I felt tiny sat in such a large space with massively high ceilings. There was a grand piano in amongst the tables, but unfortunately there was no one playing while we were there, so I was a bit disappointed.

I wore my new Collectif suit to tea, and I felt very proper and sophisticated in the mint green  jacket with faux fur cuffs and collar.

The waiting staff were unbelievably polite and attentive. The hostess seemed to be expecting us and every staff member we passed greeted us warmly. It was an unusual experience to be served by such happy people and made our time there all the more enjoyable. 

There was a varied selection of loose leaf teas to choose from - a flavour to suit everyone - and the waiters kept topping up the water, which I am always grateful for.

I paid £20 per person for champagne afternoon tea and there was plenty of food! We were greeted with a champagne cocktail, which was a lovely start, and gave us the oportunity to absorb the setting. Tea was served shortly after with an assortment of finger sandwiches, sweet and savoury scones, homemade preserves, cakes, chocolates and a dessert. I could not finish all the food but it was all scrumptious! 

For the Criterion I would score as follows

  1.  Mise-en-scène - 4/5 - An opulent setting with soft lighting, glittering ceilings and mirrored walls.  
  2. Tea - 4/5 - A varied selection of loose leaf teas that were topped up with water.
  3. Scones - 3/5 - The sweet scones were large, quite dry and dense. I did like the savoury ones though.
  4. Service - 5/5 - Very friendly staff who were attentive, happy and accommodating.
  5. Value - 4/5 - They do great deals on amazon local, and there were plenty of scrummy cakes.

Total: 20/25 

Keep an eye out for my next Afternoon Tea review which will feature next month. I'm aiming to visit a different London tea room every month in my search for the best!



Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Collectif Suit

My first Collectif purchase turned out to be extremely successful. I found this 60's style suit and sweater for £50 online and, though the skirt was not my size and needed serious alterations, I still think it was a bargain. 
I have styled the suit in a modern way with black leather accessories, neutral makeup and an understated, simple hairstyle. I think people can often be scared that vintage looks too costumey, so I wanted to illustrate a modern take for this suit.

The fabric has a rich texture to it that looks luxurious and is surprisingly warm. It does feel slightly carpet-like, but I do like carpets ;-)
The jacket is a size 14 and fits nicely, true to size and the sizing chart on their website. The only skirt available was a size 18, which I took in from the centre back seam and shortened to just below the knee.

These buttons are smooth and reflective and have a Bakelite feel to them, which is a really nice touch.

I'm generally not a fan of faux fur but this collar is soft with a beautiful sheen to it.

The fur cuffs are elegant and finished at a comfortably chic position on my wrist.

POP!!! floral lining! I love a cute lining. It feels luxurious to have a pretty, soft and slippery lining inside, making the suit easy to put on.

I am a keen supporter of matching belts - why did they ever go out of style? They are really the perfect finishing touch!

Black leather boots would not be my usual choice, but in attempting a more modern twist I gave them a go and surprisingly it does work.

I also got the matching sweater with the same faux fur collar.

I'm really happy with this look and glad to wear something with a bit of colour now that it is staying lighter for longer but still a bit cold.



Tuesday, 17 March 2015

How To Sew A Scalloped Hem

 I'm currently working on a cute little outfit for summer and am experimenting with a new hemming technique. 
Why have a straight hem when you can have a scalloped one right?

I started by making a template of the shape I wanted my scallops to be- exactly one stripe in width (on my fabric the stripes are exactly 1 1/2" wide). I made the depth of the scallop 1". I used this template to draw in each scallop on the wrong side of the fabric. You could do a template of a few scallops to save time, I did only one for accuracy due to the stripes.

I laid a 6" strip of cotton fabric the same width as my skirt hem behind as my facing and pinned together.
I then machined along my drawn line as accurately as possible, pivoting at each point.

I cut close to the stitch line, approx 1/8" away. Then clip between each scallop into the point as close as possible without cutting into the stitching.

Then I turned the right sides out and pressed well.

If you do not clip close enough between each scallop you will get a little tuck like the above. Fix this by turning inside out and clipping closer.

If you cut into your stitch line you will get a small hole as pictured above. To repair this you can either turn inside out and sew a new machine line higher up to conceal the hole, or you could repair with a few hand stitches once your hem is completed. That second option is quicker and easier so I'd go with that.

I then turned under the raw edge of the facing and hand stitched down. I slipped in some 5" crinoline tape to give more body and structure to my hem as the skirt is very full, 6 meters full in fact!

And you could totally do this to a garment you already own  to freshen up the look and give an old garment another lease of life.

Happy Sewing!



Monday, 9 March 2015

Mrs Depew Beach Bustier

This is the first pattern from Mrs Depew that I have used and I was pleasantly surprised with the fit. I made up the size L, but was worried that the cups may be too small. The pattern outlines a 38" bust, and because I am a 41 1/2" bust, the difference was enough that I expected to be doing some serious pattern adjustments. To my surprise the toile fit me perfectly. It is cut very generously in the bust, so I expect that many people would need to grade this down.

This pattern was very easy to use. The instructions were completely clear and I finished everything in one afternoon.

Extremely depressing to look at your back centred and zoomed in, but needs must for a review I suppose.

I can't deal with the discomfort of a halter strap, so I have gone with cross over straps. No neck discomfort! Really a much more practical choice I think.

Worn with a bra, the cup shape was distorted so I have decided to go without, and I'm much happier with the shape. Being a double layer of fabric and of a medium weight, the bustier is very supportive and structured. (I did not use interfacing for this toile but will for the real deal where the pattern specifies in the arch detail and under bust band.)

This is a very cute top that I will be making up in a white cotton twill for spring. It will go well with many high waist options, so this is such a useful top to have in your wardrobe.

Worn in a patterned cotton with matching skirt or shorts, this would make a very pretty playsuit; or by lengthening the bodice to the waist point and attaching a skirt this could be transformed into a summer dress very stylishly.

A definite Triumph! Thank you Mrs Depew.

Has anyone else used a Mrs Depew pattern? If so what did you think?



Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Heyday Swing Trousers

Well, Hello there!
I have been looking for a wide leg trouser this winter but wasn't sure if they would be flattering - I'm used to a more fitted leg. After seeing Brittany at VaVoomVintage sporting a similar style I went ahead and ordered a pair.

I chose to go with the brand Heyday because they are a British brand that prides itself on quality and had a good range of colours. I went with their Swing Trousers in Grey for their versatility. The colour is a good neutral tone to be worn all year round and the fabric has a nice soft drape whilst being full bodied and medium weight. 

Looking good at the rear!
For sizing I went with the size 16 as recommended on their sizing chart (I usually always wear 14). They are a good fit in the hips and bum and only needed taking in at the waist as I had hoped - for the perfect fit.

I really like the side button closure, easy to open and adds an interesting detail on the side.

 I shortened the hem by 1 1/4" and recreated the turn-ups. I also took in the waist by 2 1/2" and left all the fabric inside. You never know it may need to be let out later! The alterations took under an hour and I was happy to go ahead with them to get the best fit.

I have styled the outfit with an ivory flat collared blouse, a navy cable knit jumper, a gold styalised leaf brooch, black leather gloves and brown brogues for a casual 40s daytime look.

Anyone else a fan of the wide leg? And how would you style them?



P.S. This is not a sponsored post, I bought these trousers with my own money after comparing different online companies myself. I have created this review in case someone might find it helpful.