The Cambie Dress

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I loved the look of this dress. It was inspired from the movie “La La Land” with Emma Stones’s gorgeous yellow dress.  I had never previously followed a Sewaholic pattern and did some research before purchasing.  There were lots of positive reviews and a step by step guide on the Sewaholic website which is a great thing to have if you are a bit unsure during the making up stages. http://sewaholic.net/

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The pattern and instructions were easy to follow.  I did a mock up first as I am fairly large chested and always generally have to alter bodice measurements to suit my frame.  I am usually a size 8-10 so plumped for the size 10 to be on the safe side.

The dress is fully lined and actually the finished result looks more difficult than it really was!  Although I think that next time I may not line the skirt and only line the bodice.  The only alteration I had to make was ironically to take in the bodice slightly to achieve a more fitted effect!  I think next time I might even downsize and opt for a size 8!

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The only problem I have now is deciding on which material and pattern fabric to purchase for my next Cambie dress!

Thank you Sewaholic.  I will definitely be making more of your creations in the near future!
https://www.etsy.com/shop/Lizzyshomemade


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La La land! – The Yellow Dress!

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I was looking forward to watching La La Land when I saw the trailer well before Christmas.  My husband wasn’t so enthusiastic!  You just know when you are going to love a film and I knew I would love this film.  Yes, I saw the headlines and heard about the awards, but it didn’t matter to me as I couldn’t wait to see it and didn’t really care if it had bad reviews.  (It didn’t by the way!).

Readers of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of the 1950’s and 1950’s style dresses in particular!  I was even surprised that the film was set in modern day as from the trailer and the pictures I had seen, the women were all wearing lovely summer A line frocks!

Why not make your own?  The spotty yellow sundress in the opening credits of La La Land I coveted from the moment I set eyes on it.  This is just my style.  Indeed, my mind was going round with buying spotty yellow fabric and making a dress from a similar pattern that I have and that has been well used. The Butterick B4443 easy dress pattern can be adapted for 6 different styles of basically the same dress.  I’ve made a few dresses from this pattern and its really easy. https://butterick.mccall.com/B4443

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Indeed, there is a lovely article in the Guardian newspaper about the joys and benefits of wearing yellow, based on Emma Stones’s dress.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/style/la-la-land-yellow-optimistic-colour-everyone-should-wearing/

I love these 1950’s collar style shirts too.  I first saw them on Mad Men, when Betty Draper used to wear them all the time, back in the early series.  I did actually buy several similar designs last summer from Marks and Spencer’s; a lovely light lemon one and a pretty blue blouse which is an exact copy of the one in the picture below that Emma Stone is wearing.

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This leads us to the halterneck dress.  I have a couple of these lovely dresses that I have purchased from Boden over the years.  They do get worn on exceptionally hot days in the summer and mainly also on holiday in the summer sun! I do like this style of dress, not many people seem to wear it much and prefer the strappy sundresses that are often in abundance.  However, I think it looks classy and has a lovely old fashioned theme to it.

There is a nice looking halterneck dress from New Look patterns.  I’ve never made one of these dresses, but let me know if you have and if it is easy or difficult to make. ttp://www.simplicitynewlook.com/6457/

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Finally that brings me onto the sweetheart neckline, again very stylish and classy. This neckline has been around for ages and does wonders for emphasising the bust area.  These necklines are often low cut.  They are traditionally used for more formal wear, especially wedding dresses.

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It was quite hard finding a sweetheart neckline dress sewing pattern that would be do-able. However the Sewaholic Cambie dress with sweetheart neckline looks as though it could be made into a stunning dress. I might give it a try.

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http://www.sewaholicpatterns.com/cambie-dress-pdf-sewing-pattern/

There you go!  Lots of fabulous inspiration for making your own La La Land clothes!  Let me know how you all get on!  Roll on the summer now when we might actually be able to wear them!


Lobster Dress

I have finally got around to completing work on my lobster dress!

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I purchased this lovely navy retro looking material, with white lobsters a few months ago from Fabric Rehab,  www.fabricrehab.co.uk with a view to making a skater style dress.  However, after making a tote bag from this material for my Etsy shop first, I received a large custom order from Newfoundland to make several lobster bags and progress on the dress stopped!

I went back to one of my favourite original patterns that I made my first dress from a couple of years ago; Vogue V8723, Very Easy Vogue Patterns.  This simple dress pattern consists of a lined bodice, a lined skater style skirt and a 20 inch zip at the back.

imageI had cut out the pattern pieces a few weeks ago and followed the bodice measurements for a D cup as I am quite busty.  Assembling the dress was fairly simple as the bodice consisted of a couple of darts in the front and only one in the back.  The lining was fashioned in exactly the same way.  However on trying the dress on, there was far too much material gaping at the front bodice so I had to take some more in from the darts, which seems to have fixed the problem. I will have to remember to use the B cup bodice pattern next time!

 

 

Although the pattern states that the skirt should be lined, I didn’t bother lining the skirt as the material is medium thickness and navy so hardly see through.  The skirt was fairly easy to assemble as it just had to be gathered and the gathers adjusted to fit the bodice seams.

I used to find the hardest part of dress making was zip insertion until I learnt how to insert a zip easily and properly through the YouTube channel of Professor Pincushion.  Here, they take you step by step on how to insert a zip.  This method works every time and makes dress making much easier. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huQh2aE2Sao

With some hand sewing to finish off the dress (mainly a hook and eye above the zip and attaching the lining to the zip too), the dress is completed.  Hurray!  I finally have my finished lobster dress in time for late Summer!

Next on the list is a fabulous Licorice Allsorts fabric in a black background, remembering to use the B cup front bodice pattern next time!image

My retro 1950’s shirt dress

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As readers of my blog will be aware, I am addicted to 1950’s style dresses.  I love the femininity of them, the swirl, that “princess” feeling.  Luckily for me I have an hourglass figure which really suits the 1950’s A-line style.

When my son started school a few years ago, I enrolled on a weekly dressmaking course and over the years, I have made a few tops and some simple sundresses for myself.  I particulary like the Vintage Vogue V8789.  However, this time I decided to tackle a 1950’s style shirt dress pattern; the McCall’s M6696.

Interestingly, this all came about as a result of receiving the new Boden Spring 2016 catalogue.  They have a lovely Sophia shirtdress in pale lemon but unfortunately had run out of my size with little hope of a restock.  I looked at the dress and thought how hard can it be?  So I googled simple shirtdress pattern and came up with the McCall’s M6696. This stated that it was an “Easy”pattern to tackle.  All the better!

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I looked to see if there were any general reviews of the pattern, then I looked at one of my newly discovered sites, The Curvy Sewing Collective. For the unitiated, this is a website designed to give advice on sewing patterns for the curvy person.  Although I am a size 8, I generally have a large chest which doesn’t always equate to size 8 clothes!  This website looks at sewing patterns and reviews and comments on them, giving helpful hints on how you can alter the pattern etc.  Anyways, they had the McCall’s dress in it and gave it a good review.

Next, I went to my favourite fabric store – Barrys, in Birmingham – to have a look for some fabric.  My husband and son are regular visitors here and the staff love my son and he loves hiding in amongt the fabric!  My husband has a good eye for material so he picked out a fabulous retro bicycle print in a pale green which would look amazing in a dress.  Great, I’ve now got my pattern and my fabric.

As I mentioned I went to dressmaking lessons but my tutor was always on hand for the more trickier stuff.  When I looked through the McCall’s pattern, although it stated easy, there was some stuff I had never tackled before, such as yokes, button down bands and collars.  Yikes!  The instructions would have been clear if I knew what I was doing in the first place!

Thank heavens for YouTube!  I googled “how to attach a yoke” and found a brilliant channel called Professor Pincushion.  This American lady has hundreds of different clips on all elements of dressmaking which are so clear, precise and easy to follow.  I have looked online for sewing stuff before but with mixed results.  However Professor Pincushion is now my new find!

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With her help, I made a yoke, learnt abou how to attach a collar and made a shirt button band.  I cannot recommend her enough if you are puzzled about instructons on a sewing pattern.  I completed the dress fairly quickly and really enjoyed doing it.  After previous bad experiences of cutting into patterns and fabric and finding the fit is not right, I now trace the pattern and do a mock up with some cheap fabric rather than spoiling the original! I was glad I did because the size 8 was a little too tight on the waistband (too many cakes?) so I altered it to a size 10 when cutting out my fabric properly.

I finally finished the shirt dress a few days later  I have to say I am really pleased with the results.  The fit is good and the dress hangs well.    The good thing is that I can now go ahead and make a 100 of these if I wish as I have the perfect pattern for my body.IMG_0454

So, if you fancy having a go at a new summer dress then take a look at McCall’s M669 and let me know how you get on!


1950’s Sewing Patterns – A brief history

8991jy23There is a trend today for making your own clothes, with programmes such as “The Great British Sewing Bee” encouraging would be sewers to throw caution to the wind and have a go! However this isn’t an entirely new phenomenon as sewing patterns have been in existence since the 1860’s.

In wartime Britain, women could save hard earned family money by making their own clothes. Trims were relatively inexpensive and could be used time and time again on different outfits and updated as and when required.

The main dressmaking pattern manufacturers included Butterick, Simplicity, McCalls and of course Vogue. These American companies are still in existence today. Women’s weekly magazines such as Woman’s Own all published patterns too, so pattern availability wasn’t a problem.simplicity_1655

In the 1950’s a wide range of skirt styles were on offer to make, however tops were always nipped in and fitted to optimised the desired for narrow waist.

There was also the introduction of “Easy to Make” sewing patterns and with the arrival of shift dresses towards the end of the 1950s many women ran up these patterns in no time at all as the pattern was so simple. Many different versions could be made and adapted to both winter and summer needs. Furthermore as the decade went on, new fabric and became available and better quality zips and trimmings came into existence.

vintage%20sewing%20pattern%20-%201950s%20junior%20misses%20one-piece%20dress%20and%20jacket%20simplicity%201157%20size%2011%20bust-f91435In the 1950’s one of the most coveted items for women was the Singer sewing machine. Singer began to recover from the effects of the war in which production was ceased and in 1952 introduced model 206, its first zigzag machine. These machines are quite sought after and occasionally you spot them in antique shops now for a small fortune!

Vintage patterns are particularly in demand today and there are a good choice online. Some manufacturers also now provide modern sewing patterns based on the vintage 1950’s feel. I have tried Vintage Vogue patterns and have successfully produced a lovely dress from using their V8789 1957 original dress design pattern.  At present I love the American sewing manufacturer Colette who produces some lovely retro/vintage designs, including the Ginger skirt and the Sencha blouse.  I have also made several tops from the Sorbretto 1950’s style sleeveless top pattern.

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If anyone  has tried any of these modern “vintage” patterns that has successfully worked out for them, then please let me know!

1950’s dresses – A brief history

imagesP86OHRPGI think sometimes that I was born in the wrong era. I feel much happier in a dress with a fitted waist and a full skirt. Not necessarily over the top with a petticoat underneath (I do the school run!) but something that makes me feel feminine at least. Jeans are comfortable and practical but they don’t make me feel good about myself.

I adore the 1950’s. Everything I like and am drawn to is mainly from this era. I love the clothes, the kitsch and the home styling!

My favourite 1950s icons include Audrey Hepburn (she will be covered in a future blog), Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. Hollywood glamour became popular in Europe with these icons.  To me they look feminine, dress fashionably and smartly and actually have a womanly figure rather than looking like a stick insect!imagesTR07WJ6G

The 1950’s were all about the waistline with an emphasis on a thin waist, defined hips and a larger more defined bust. In short a more feminine silhouette than had been seen for many years. Dior’s “New Look” defined women’s wardrobes and women’s figures were given the illusion of an hourglass shape with a nipped in waist and a full skirt, adding definition to the body.

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With the end of World War II, came a feeling of freedom, especially in terms of fashion for women. No more fabric rationing and a new choice of material and patterns from which to have fun making clothes with. There was now an availability of different fabrics, especially in the USA. Excess fabric was used to create full skirts, pleats and petticoats etc. Cottons, linens and silks were still used but were expensive and difficult to find, hence the rise of the synthetic materials market, most notably nylon, polyester and acrylic. These new fabrics revolutionised fabric care, with even a quick wash and possibly no ironing required!

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I like the 1950s because even today it appears timeless. The return of full skirts, capri pants and flat ballet shoes all feature heavily in my wardrobe. Okay, I do admit that I tend to stand out in the school playground, amidst the jeans and parkers but then again I get compliments on how I look and so many people comment on my dresses and how they wish they could wear them! Well, why not? It’s the easiest thing in the world in the rush of a morning when you can’t decide what to wear to put on a dress in the summer and a dress with leggings and boots in the winter. I always remember one of Gok Wan’s fashion programmes in which he said that he never understood why so little women wore dresses as they were so easy and versatile to wear. So try wearing the 1950’s style dresses for yourself  and see if you are convinced!