Monday, 25 May 2015

Chelsea Flower Show 2015

What to wear for Chelsea Flower Show, well florals of course! And ruffles and ribbons only improve a good floral, so wack them all into the mix!

I came across this Pinafore pattern in my stash and thought this would be perfect in a delicate meadow, floral patterned cotton. The only change that I made to the pattern was to shorten the ruffle to the bust position instead of the full length of the dress. I also inserted a waist tie to clinch in the waist and tie a bow in the back.
This is only my 3rd vintage pattern of the year but has got me on a roll to really speed through the next 7 that I plan to make!

I'm really pleased with the final result, and finished just in the nick of time (on the morning of the event)

The sleeves are my favourite part of the dress. I do like a softly, dramatic sleeve.

This is my brand new brooch bought from The Pink Bungaloo that is a reproduction of the MacArthur 'Key to My Heart' pin and I'm absolutely taken by it!

I'm very happy with the fabric I chose because it looks just like a wild English meadow, and that's the sort of garden I like- uncontrollable!
I didn't pattern match the back pieces because the print is so busy, and the flowers so small, that I thought it wouldn't mater. Turns out pattern matching always matters, bad seamstress!!!
It doesn't spoil the dress for me at all though, I cant see my back when I wear it!

I went to Chelsea flower show for the first time this year with my friend from work Janina.
Janina has the most astoundingly vast knowledge of past era's and a museum worthy collection of various treasures so naturally we had a brilliant time!

Isn't this flower bag just perfect. Janina was admired for her bag all day, and her necklace is a colourful 50's plastic beaded necklace.
There was an Alice in Wonderland theme to a great many of the displays in recognition of the 150th anniversary this year.
Some of the displays were very grande indeed!
Just look at that giant teacup!

 Oh, Fox gloves are especially stunning. This little area looks just like fairies live among the flowers and help them to grow.

The markings inside of these blooms are amazing, and each one unique.

 There were many garden ideas, if only I had a garden, then this little archway would definitely be an idea worth recreating.
I had never seen a Clematis, but they are so delicate and sweet that I have fallen in love with them. Janina ordered this variety to plant at home in her garden and I cant wait to visit them next year when they bloom.

I had no idea that there were so many varieties of the same flower, I was in awe of the different blooms. Daffodils are my favourite flower, they are happy flowers and when I see them popping up at the beginning of spring it always brings a smile to my face!

I had never considered Cacti to be beautiful, but look at all of those colours.
I bought a tiny one to take home with perfect pastel pink flowers. I hope that it grows and continues to flower just like these.
Sooo Sweet!!!

We stopped for a cheeky lemonade half way around the main tent. It was very busy indeed and there was no where to sit so we sipped lemonade whilst wondering around looking at pretty flowers.

So many colours, it was like walking through a dream!

Those foxes are soon cute strolling through the flowers. I like that the foxes give the gardens a story and personality.

We stopped for a picnic lunch that we brought along and sat on some lawn by a garden. I prepared home made Scotch Eggs, Asparagus wrapped in Parma ham, Greek salad and Tiramisu. It is really worth the effort of packing your own food, there were some envious stares from other visitors.

I needed that sit down after walking around all afternoon. No where better to sit than in a garden!
I hope that you enjoyed the flowers I have shared with you.
I had a Glorious day!! and felt very 'Alice' in my Pinafore, which to my delight suited the event perfectly.
You honestly can't get more quintessentially english than the chelsea flower show.
A very tasteful and proper affair.



Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Fashion on the Ration

The Fashion on The Ration exhibition is currently being held at the Imperial war museum in London. I waited to see the exhibition until I had finished reading the companion book-
I truly did enjoy reading this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in war time fashions. This book covers England exclusively but there is a great deal of information there. I particularly enjoyed the chapters about the uniform of different women's organisations as well as the make do and mend portion. 

There were not many images included in the book which I found odd as fashion is extremely visual and difficult to describe well but I battled through it. Many of the garments mentioned in the book were featured in the exhibition so it was very helpful to see things in real life. I found the authors writing style easy to follow and she often made me laugh.

Although a small exhibition it is definitely worth a visit. As a sewing enthusiast I like to get up close and personal with the little details, if you know what I mean. I left no pocket , collar or seam unscrutinized. It is those small details that I really like to inspect closely as they are what can make or break reproductions for me. 

 I was very surprised that war time fashion was so very colourful. I had assumed that frumpy and dowdy would be the norm but No! Colour, Colour, Colour galore!

I wore my 40's Horrocks house coat with brogues and camel wool coat for what I hoped would be an era appropriate look.

 I tried to do an early war Veronica Lake peekaboo hairstyle that worked out well until the London drizzle decided to wage war with my bouncy curls.

The collar is one of my favourite details of this dress, so very elegant!

When I bought this dress, one of the buttons was missing, but I was fortunate enough to find white Bakelite buttons on Etsy that were the perfect match. This literally never ever happens to me- small miracles!!!

 I tried out seamed stockings with a garter belt that was slightly too big- safe to say it was an absolute disaster, won't be wearing that again!

I had a brilliant time at the exhibition, and always love an excuse to get dressed up, plus I learnt something new. 



Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Afternoon Tea at the Millennium Hotel

 Tucked away in the quiet streets of Mayfair, the Millennium Hotel sits discreetly. It is a building in keeping with the area and has an air of sophisticated decadence.
The foyer is grand and old fashioned, just as a lobby should be! The bar that I peeked into is a small masculine room full of leather and mahogany.
The restaurant was a great contrast to the rest of the building and was an extremely modern space. A spacious and bright setting to enjoy afternoon tea, but lacking a little charm and character. I always think it is a shame when doing renovations to an old building, that everything original is torn out and replaced.

I paid £20 per person for champagne afternoon tea on an Amazon deal (I can never resist an Amazon deal!). We had champagne to start while mulling over the tea options, of which there were many. The menu had in-depth descriptions of each tea to help choose.
Tea was served shortly after with an hour glass to tell me when it had brewed, which was fun and a nice touch!
I always go for the Earl Grey, and this didn't disappoint. It was smooth, light and had that citrusy/floral bergamot twist.
Tea was served in a pretty Wedgewood wild strawberry tea set that was so very cute. I always think tea tastes better out of a nice tea set!

I enjoyed the traditional sandwiches, which were made with good quality ingredients and were incredibly fresh.
The scones were definitely homemade and nice and light. They were extremely large, so I struggled to finish them, but they were delicious.
The piece de resistance though was the desert tier. Incredible mini deserts, including a chocolate brownie, fruit and crème anglaise tart, a raspberry panna cotta, and my favourite, a pistachio crème brulee. Very small desserts, but each a perfect little morsel with flavours balanced to perfection.

I don't usually mention the toilets but these were particularly fabulous and spacious, so I took a quick selfie. I wore my Spring for Cotton dress that I have been wearing a lot recently.
For the Millennium I would score as follows -
  1. Mise-en-scène - 3/5 - A light and airy setting, quiet and relaxing.  
  2. Tea - 5/5 - A wide selection of loose leaf teas, the menu had in depth descriptions to help with choosing, plus such cute china!
  3. Scones - 4/5 - The scones were definitely homemade!  Yum yum!
  4. Service - 4/5 - Friendly, attentive staff.
  5. Value - 4/5 - They do great deals on Amazon Local. It is worth going purely for the deserts alone!

Total: 19/25 

I has a fantastic time at Millennium Hotel and would definitely visit again!





Thursday, 7 May 2015

Spring for Cotton - Final Dress

Finally I have finished my outfit for Spring for Cotton!
It has taken a lot of hard work, but it turned out better than I could ever have dreamed! I wore it to Hyde park to take some pictures on the most gloriously sunny day.

The shoulder ties are absolutely adorable!!!

The floral print is exactly what I was looking for. It reminds me of Chinese Blue and White porcelain.

I wore it with a tulle petticoat underneath for these pictures, but it looks equally beautiful without, just more floaty.

What you can't see in these pictures is how soft this light cotton lawn is - SUPER SOFT!!
I kept running my hands down the skirt all day!

After all of that posing, I laid on the grass in Hyde park and dozed in the sunshine, listening to Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens. What a glorious day!

I love it when something looks just as good on the inside as the outside, it seems so indulgent and luxury! (Doesn't usually happen when I make stuff for myself, but no staples or double sided sticky tape in this dress -Yay!!) This is also my second vintage pattern pledge garment this year, so I need to get a move on and sew, sew,sew!!!

A BIG well done to everyone who took part in Spring for cotton this year.
The outfits are amazing!



Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Sewing with Vintage Patterns- Part 3 To Toile or not to Toile, that is the question!

A Toile or Muslin is an important stage when you are using a vintage pattern, particularly when you have graded and altered that pattern. This stage is to check the fit of the garment and has the added benefit of giving yourself a dry run sewing it together.
I use Calico (also known as Muslin) for this stage and cut out the pieces of graded pattern as the lay plan outlines.
For this pattern I only need to make a Toile of the bodice, the skirt is full and therefore does not require fitting. I always Toile tight fitting garments and any details I have not sewn before-
e.g. cuffs, collars, pockets. . .
I don't ever Toile full skirts anymore as I do not find it to be helpful. It also requires a lot of fabric and so ends up also being a waste.
If you are new to this I would go ahead and make the full garment as a practice, it does give you much more confidence when you take your scissors to your beautiful fabric. 


I always read the instructions fully a few times before I start as I don't want to struggle with the construction and waste time mid sewing, or have to use the dreaded unpicker!
I like to do this a few days in advance to mull over any tricky or new techniques. Again this is for your own confidence more than anything else.

As you can see in the photos I was very lucky with the fit of this garment as it fits perfectly without needing to be altered. The only adjustment that I will make is to the bodice length.
You can see that excluding seam allowances -
 CF is 1/4" too long,
SS is 1/2" too long 
CB is 3/4" too long
 I have therefore got to shorten the body in exactly the same way I lengthened it previously by these measurements.

Once you have altered your pattern you need to make a final copy. This should be neat and tidy with all of the relevant pattern information included.
If you need to do significant alterations to your pattern, which I would consider more than 2 alterations, then I would always consider a second Toile. I know it takes more time and is not the most exciting, but working with a Toile or even multiple Toile's really saves you a headache and disappointment later if your garment just won't fit as you had hoped.

You can now go ahead and sew up your garment in your fashion fabric. I hope you have found these hints and tips useful.

I will post some pictures soon of my finished summer dress.