Saturday, 25 April 2015

Coletterie - Wardrobe Architect: Week 1

As I'm sure everyone does, I have a list of my favourite fashion/vintage/lifestyle blogs that I constantly re-visit to read and get inspiration from.(Check out my 'Links' page for some of them!). One of them being Coletterie, which is a fabulous sewing website full of sew-a-long projects, sewing hints & tips etc. Last year Coletterie ran a post series called 'Wardrobe Architect' which was all about (to steal their own quote!) 'designing and building thoughtful attire'.  Basically building a wardrobe full of clothes that not only suit your body shape, but reflects you as an individual. I read through the posts at the time, but didn't really think much about taking part. I don't think I actually shop that much, but I do feel like I'm stuck in a bit of a style rut. The same thing happened when I finished university, and as I did then I feel that it's now time for a bit of a wardrobe overhaul!

So I'll be working through the Wardrobe Architect project week by week as the posts were written. 
I'm pretty excited to see where I end up at the end of it!. You can follow along with my posts, or click the link here to go to the Coletterie website and read up on the project yourself.

So here we go, Week 1!

"On average, we are exposed to over x ads a day, all designed to elicit responses and get you to buy and to want. On top of that, if you’re spending time on the internet, you’re likely also being treated to a barrage of images of trends, status, and desire. You find yourself comparing your home, wardrobe, and life to the seemingly perfect ones you see online. Is it any wonder we lose the sense of what our tastes actually are? This week, let’s look a little bit deeper than the flashy and new. Let’s think about how we’re different, and how that affects our aesthetic choices."
- Coletterie

How has your personal history informed the way you dress? When did your tastes crystalize? Have they changed over the years, and why?

My family has always allowed me to look/dress however I wanted. I went through the obligatory 'grunge' period between 13-15 years old, including giant baggy trousers, dark make up and fishnet tights! Just the thought makes me laugh! Whilst the love for the music stayed I grew out of the grunge fashion and started developing an interest in fashion. I was just comfortable buying pieces from the high street here & there, and that's the way I shop now. I look for things that I find 'interesting'. Whether it's a print or logo, some embellishment or pleating. It just has to have something about it that makes me take a second look. Music has always been important to me, it's always been blasted out in our house, and I love to take inspiration from the various genres I enjoy - rock/punk/mod/indie etc. I'm not an extreme person so I have never dress in a completely 'mod' or '1950s' style, rather taking elements from these influences. I think this has been the way I've dressed since I was about 18.

Example of a top that had something 'interesting' about it!
I bought it because loved the beading and panelling on this River Island top

How does your philosophy, spirituality, or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected?

I am an athiest so I don't have any religious factors that affect the way I dress. That being said I think I dress quite modestly... don't get me wrong I have my fair share of short dresses and low tops, but I'm not one of those 'all out' girls. If the legs are out the boobs are covered, and vice versa! Haha!
I firmly belive in being happy in yourself, in all aspects of your life. So I would like to develop more of my individual style without feeling awkward & uncomfortable.

I loved this wet look dress I wore out for my birthday a few years ago.
Not sure it actually suits my shape - I haven't worn it since it's so low at the front and back and looks so baggy from the side! But I felt comfortable wearing it with opaque tights.

How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older?

I love that I live in a country like the UK where there are some many different cultures to influence and inspire us. As I said I think I've been pretty influenced by the music & films I've watched and loved thoughout my life. 

A very old picture, 50s style polka dot dress.
I remember buying this because it reminded me of the dresses in Grease!

How are you influenced by the people around you, including friends, family, and other communities you’re involved in?

My family aren't particularly interested in fashion and clothing, they dress well but aren't interested in latest trends. I've always been allowed to dress how I wanted to which has been great in developing my own taste and style. My friends again dress well, but don't keep up with latest trends. We all buy clothes that we like rather than what is on trend. A large group of my friends, including myself, enjoy alternative music, (i.e. rock/metal/punk etc) with that comes a certain style that I've always thought looks cool, but apart from the 'grunge' period I didn't really go down that route. However, I work in the fashion industry and in my old job especially, walking into other head offices definately made me want to dress in a more 'fashiony' way. I don't think either of those are necessarily 'me' though, which is probably why I've never fully taken the plunge in either direction!

Lzzy Hale from one of my favourite bands Halestorm
I love her rock chick look - especially these trousers! 
I just don't think I'd have the confidence to pull them off!

I do however love a good band t-shirt!
Wear with everything!

How do your day to day activities influence your choices?

I'm lucky that I have a job where I have a short drive to an office where I get to design all day!
I don't have a dress code at work, so I put on whatever I like in the morning. It does mean that I don't seem to have a separate day/night, work/evening wardrobe any more. Everything seems to have merged into one.  

Perfect example! 
My 'interesting' beaded top from above... worn out in the evening too! 

Does the place you live inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in?

I live in Hertforshire in England. So apart from a bit of rain (!) climate isn't really a factor in the way I dress. Apart from a few pieces, my winter wardrobe is essentially my summer wardrobe... with tights! I have a short commute to my office so I don't have to worry about keeping myself wrapped up warm, or keeping myself cool on public transport.  

Standard work outfit... minus the snake! Lol

In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?

I am lucky that I have a good relationship with my body and the way I look. I've been tiny and I've been pretty chubby, but once I realised that at a size 14/16 I was still worrying about the same body issues I had when I was a size 8 I realised it just wasn't worth the upset any more. I'm now settled at an average size 12 - I say average because the sizes vary store to store! - and I'm very happy with that. My body is strong and (for the most part!) healthy. I love the boxy, shell tops that seem to be all over the high street in a massive range of gorgeous prints & fabrics, but whenever I've put them on I feel frumpy. They just don't suit my shape. The same goes for any type of bodycon dresses, I've tried my fair share of them on, but I just don't feel comfortable in them. I love to wear strap tops with shorts or skirts, I have good legs and quite a small waist so I feel like this shows them off. I also love high/low hems on dresses & skirts, they're pretty & girlie without making me feel like I'm over or under dressed!

High/Low hem dress - I've worn this to death!

So there you have week 1 of Wardrobe Architect. 
Let me know if you're doing this too :)

Em x

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

One Shoulder Pleat Skirt Dress

Apologies for the delay in this post, I've been on holiday, skiing in France for the last week! Very strange to be skiing in bright sunshine and not have to wear thermals, but stranger still to come back to sunshine at home! But anyway, it's good to be back and get the chance to update you on my little easter project. Before I went away I mentioned that over the Easter weekend I would be hitting the sewing machine and getting all creative again (read it here).

I had decided that I wanted to make myself a dress to wear to my friend's wedding the week after. (The same friends I made the wedding ties for here). I'd done a couple of sketches a few weeks before and settled on a one shoulder pleated skirt number.

After going through the huge fabric stash I have in my loft I chose a navy blue satin for the bodice & a gorgeous floral burnout for the skirt. Now looking back, I realise that this is the first time I have ever made a one shoulder, boned bodice. And I'm not gonna lie, getting this one right was hard.

To start with, I think I was a bit optimistic when I chose the close fitting dress block with waist shaping, to begin with. As it turns out, as much as I like my figure... I'm not that shaped at the waist!

So, I drafted up everything and pinned my paper pattern together & slipped it on to get a rough idea of the shape. Obviously you never get a perfect look at the shape as paper doesn't drape the way fabric does, but I always do this when I'm making garments for myself and then amend my pattern from there before cutting any fabric, even if it's for a toile. So, I put my pinned pattern on and to my horror (!) it was tiny! The sides weren't even close to being able to be pinned together!
I needed to add 9cm into pattern to get it to close!

**I blame this solely on the Cadbury's Easter Egg I demolished with the Ginge a few days before!**

Once that was rectified and I could actually get into the pattern I drew on the shape I wanted the bodice to be, with the help of my lovely assistant designer i.e. my Mum!
You can see the shaping below on the pattern in red.


I transferred these amendments to my block and made my first pattern, which I then toiled up.
Again there were lots of amendments to do.

I ended up:
* Reducing the shoulder strap width
* Curving out & reshaping the front & back necklines
* Dropping & reshaping the armholes
* Pinching out of the princess seams at the top
* Reducing the bust ( seems I make up for my lack of bust in the waist area!)

Luckily my second toile came out much better, and the pattern just needed reducing at the front princess seams again. I was pretty relieved there was nothing else major to do, as I reaaaaallllyyy wanted to get this all finished over the weekend!

The sewing process went pretty smoothly to be honest, so nothing to report there. 
One thing I did make sure to do was cover the ends of the boning with silicon end caps so they didn't end up sticking through the fabric & scratching me as I was wearing it!

And here's the finished product!

Excuse the squinty expression on my face, the weather was lovely and sunny that day, so not being used to nice weather my eyes couldn't handle the brightness! I'm really happy with how this dress came out, and it was so comfy to wear all day (and night!) at the wedding. If you put all the time together I reckon the dress took me about 2- 2 1/2 days to create from sketch to finished product - not too bad! This has definately given me confidence to continue experimenting with my pattern cutting & sewing, I have so much fabric stashed away who knows what will come out of it!

Happy sewing!

Em x

Friday, 10 April 2015

Bettie Page Reveals All

During my long easter weekend, (where I made a dress and ate my body weight in food... but more about that later!), I also fitted in some quality Netflix time! With the Ginge away, the Netflix account was just lying there unused, so I took the opportunity after family had disappeared home to snuggle up in bed with a cuppa and my iPad. I ended up watching a documentary on 'The Queen of Pinups', Bettie Page in Bettie Page Reveals All.

I've always known who Bettie Page is, I mean she's a pretty iconic figure, with her long dark hair, heavy fringe and sexy lingerie. But I've never known that much about her life or work, so this was an interesting look at the life of a pinup icon. Bettie herself narrates the documentary, telling her life stories and views on events that happened to her. People who met, worked and loved Bettie throughout her life tell their own tales.

I'll try not to spoil any of the documentary for those of you who want to watch it, but I was surprised to learn she'd had a pretty tough start in life, and didn't actually have a very long career as a model before she 'disappeared' from the public eye. She also made all her modelling outfits, including those tiny little bikinis & her lingerie.

It was very inspiring to see someone, who was even in the 50's considered to be 'too big' to be a model really love her body and appreciate the way she looked. It's clear to see from the documentary footage and photos, that Bettie really loved what she did, and she was gorgeous!
She was 36-24-37 by the way. So, not big at all!

Now Bettie Page is known as the cult pin up figure who's influenced generations of models, illustrators, designers, film makers and vintage lovers. So if you have Netflix definitely put Bettie Page Reveals All on your watch list!


Em x

'Bettie Page Reveals All' on ImDB

Friday, 3 April 2015

Long Weekend Creativity

So the easter weekend is finally upon us.

I'm not gonna lie,  work has been pretty hectic and quite stressful recently,  and as much as I love my job it's definitely time for a break! So this easter weekend I will be regrouping and destressing by getting creative and hitting the pattern making and sewing machine. The Ginge is away so I shouldn't have any distractions... apart from copius amounts of food, drink and family set to hit my house at some point this weekend!

Here's a sneak peek so far...

This one's gonna be a challenge!

Happy Easter everyone! 

Em x