An old fashioned Sunday afternoon!

IMG_1410I spent a delightful Sunday afternoon at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham where there was a screening of the film LaLaLaLand accompanied by a live orchestra.

I have already seen the film twice and own it on DVD and yes, I have the soundtrack!  I also previously wrote a blog article on the delightful clothes featured in the film so I suppose you could say I am just a tiny bit obsessed!

Anyway, back to the Sunday afternoon; myself and resigned hubbie arrived to find a hoard of people looking forward to their cinema afternoon.  I love clothes spotting and noticed that there were even a handful of the Emma Stone canary dress copies!  I myself wore a 1950’s pink and white gingham check dress and some slingback kitten heels so I felt the part at least!

IMG_1411An interval drink ordered and then time to proceed to our seats.  The venue was completely packed out with cinema fans alike.  The orchestra came on stage and started to warm up.  Then the main event started.  The widescreen CinemaScope peeled back and LaLaLand finally started.

I had no idea what to expect.  How were the orchestra going to fit in with the film etc?  I needn’t have been concerned as everything was perfect!  I remember seeing the film for the first time and knew during the opening sequence that I would love it.  Watching it again for the first time in months, just reminded me of that first feeling.  The prescence of the orchestra just heightened the whole spectacle.

I loved the old fashioned feel of the event from the overture (written on screen) to the intermission (likewise on screen) too!  I wondered how they were going to ensue a seemless interval in the film and I loved how they did. The first half of the film ended on a close up of Emma Stone’s face which then faded out in a circle, just like the old films that I love.  I couldn’t wait to return after the interval  and was not disappointed.

When the film finished, I lost count of the encores and everyone was standing up clapping.  It was a very special afternoon and a fantastic atmosphere.

Please can we have more afternoons like this?  I would love to watch some of the old films, the Gene Kelly and Fred Astaires with the addition of a live orchestra.  Judging by the popularity of this Sunday afternoon, I wouldn’t be the only one!

Many thanks to the Novello Orchestra who are currently on tour with their production  I hope to see them again in the future

http://www.thenovelloorchestra.com

@NovelloOrch @THSHBirmingham


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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 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!