Couture Inside Out

I’m fresh back from the ‘Couture Inside Out – 1950s Paris and London’ workshop at the London Fashion and Textile Museum.

Must blog straight away for fear of forgetting anything! After all I forgot notebook and pen in the first place!

First treat of the day was that I got to meet and enjoy this experience with Handmade Jane. It’s always so good to have like-minded people to raise your eyebrows at, make ‘ooo faces’ with, and give knowing looks to, during a lecture!

It was a very informal 2-hour affair with such amazing content divulged by the lovely Dennis. We donned our white cotton gloves and prepared to soak up all the info we could.

The first thing I learned (and remembered) was the definition of ‘haute couture’. (please spare me if I’ve got this wrong!) It is a term used to describe the highest level of hand-sewn, bespoke garments, in Paris by a delegated team of incredibly experienced seamstresses to strict regulations. Interestingly enough it was a term that was originally associated with the fine work of Charles Worth who was an Englishman.

Of course we have couture in the UK but with much more relaxed rules, apparently!

As the garments were presented, on a white covered table, the polite student audience jostled for position to get a better view and a feel and a photo.

First up was Dior. A gasp as the two Dior creations were revealed from under the tissue.

The fact that both were aged: faded, stained and torn, did not deter from the unanimous awe.

Both dresses were in two pieces which was intriguing. Nothing like a skirt and a top. So much clever scaffolding with fine underskirts attached to the bodices. No waist-stay required.

dior cream dress

Every little bit of both of these dresses were hand-stitched!! Including the tiny rolled hems on all the chiffon layers. Beggars belief!

Please excuse the fuzzy photos taken on a phone whilst being too polite to jostle too much!

dior embroidered dress

dior embroidered dress detail

Next up was a later Dior in a really heavy weight fabric. I will be looking at furnishing fabrics in a totally different light from now on. This was heavier than any curtaining I have ever felt.

It was laid out on the table, ready for inspection! A gorgeously shaped one-piece dress. Made for someone who clearly didn’t eat that much. The waist was super tiny. The seam allowances on the other hand were enormous. At least one and a half inches. All pressed open and hand finished. The fabric had a ridged, pin-tuck like texture. All the rows of which lined up perfectly on the side seams.

dior later dress

No lining, which was a surprise. Though the dress was underlined and interfaced.

dior dress inside

Chanel then graced the table with black contrast dress and two piece skirt suit. Both very classically Chanel.

Chanel black dress

The bling was upfront and out loud on this one but only took shape as a collar detail and chain weight in the hem on the set below.

chanel skirt suit

Chanel only incorporated details if they worked and if they were functional. The little ‘petal’ pockets sit at the hemline, precisely centred with the seams. The chain weights are typically seen in Chanel hemlines. She was obsessed with the way that fabric hung and remained throughout wear and this little trick became one of her many signatures.

chanel_hem_weight

Far removed from the finer details of Chanel but not to be sniffed at, is the work of Balenciaga. This Spanish master draped most of his designs and employed much fewer seams than other designers.

This coat was A blooming Mazing. My rubbishy i-phone photos do not do it any justice whatsoever. Firstly the colour. Secondly the texture of this fabric… OMG. It was hand created to get this incredible effect. And yet the design remained oh so simple. I can’t tell you how much I want this coat!

balenciaga green coat

I didn’t care too much for Balenciaga’s Sarong Dress. But you gotta take your hat off to someone who incorporates so much into the under-scaffolding of something that fundamentally looks like a sarong!

balenciaga sarong

Now, will I get shot for not having heard of Courréges? Probably. As these designs were pretty iconic!

courreges blue dress

Jane got right in there! Impressed by those perfectly bound buttonholes.

courreges coat

Dennis couldn’t be sure of the fabric that this Pierre Balman dress was made. It kind of felt like the sew in canvas that I recently used to interface my jacket! But it was gorgeous and necessary to keep that amazing shape. There were cutouts trimmed with velvet at the hemline and on the sleeves.

pierre balman dress

Of course it goes without saying that every detail counts. Balman even ensured that his labels were mitred.

Pierre Balman labels

The following is a really bad picture of the Ellie Saab dress that Halle Berry wore to the Oscars for Best Actress, The Monsters Ball. In stark contrast to the dresses that were 50/60 years older you can see no seam allowances, no underskirts and no hand stitches to speak of. It is undeniably a gorgeous dress and she looked amazing in it, but it is incredible how standards have changed over the years!

Ellie Saab dress

I cannot for the life of me remember who designed this dress but the fine pleating in the linen was unbelievable. An underlayer of shimmering copper gave a depth to the translucent linen and you could also see where the pleating was tacked.

(Thanks to the lovely Angela, I can now confirm it was Sybil Connolly!)

pleated linen dress

detail of pleat dress

Just when you thought you’d seen it all, something very little left me lost for words. If you look closely at all those painstakingly sewn on eyes, you will see that they are all oversewn with thread!

bound eyes

Now it would have been rude not to have mentioned Zandra Rhodes creations at this very museum. She is the founder, after all!

She entered the fashion world as a textile designer and the following two garments are testament to her designs. I’d never be able to carry these off in a million years but you have to admire her total originality in the way that she designed around the design of the fabric instead of sourcing suitable fabrics for a pre-determined design.

zandra Rhodes tunic

Here is her Knitted Circle dress. So called because the fabric design is made up of graphic knitting stitches. I swear there is more fabric in one of the sleeves than in the whole dress!

Zandra Rhodes circular knitted dress

knitted circle design

Both Jane and I left the workshop in a fuzzy reassured kinda way. It made us proud that we hand made our own clothes, albeit perhaps not to the same level of lavishness but there was nothing on show that we could not have handled. Give us a year or two for a deadline and we would gladly knock one up. But perhaps we might delegate the binding of the hook and eyes to someone else!

I did wonder whether I should have posted in so much detail so as not to spoil the experience for future visitors but really, you have to be there to actually see it. You have to feel and you have to hang onto every word that Dennis speaks because he knows everything there is to know!

ooobop! review: Burda Style September 2013

Burda September 2013 Good afternoon lovely ooobop followers. Today I bring you news of September’s Burdastyle mag all the way from sunny Malta. Well actually not so sunny. More stormy right now, which Is why I am insanely posting from my phone. Impressed that I am able to do so but RSi of the thumb and index finger setting in already! Plus forthcoming punctuation and spelling blunders abound! 80s fans are in for a treat this month with batwing sleeves, baggy pants and pirate shirts aplenty! Some loves some hates but no borings! Batwings all of a sudden look great in open work knit lace. Fine example of the power of fabric! (Top right) and slinky floral dresses appear to make schoolboy socks acceptable! (Top left). I love the vintage style double breasted coat (top centre) but I already have the most divine coat pattern in the world! Just got to make it, that’s all  but I do love and have a need for that fabulous tweed jacket. (Bottom centre)

Great outdoors burdastyle september

Ok. Bananarama eat your heart out. The blouson and the chiffon is back! Add a cheeky little hat, raise that waistband, ladder those stonewashed jeans and you are as good as a walking time machine! All a bit too fresh in my mind, I fear and I’d certainly give Bobby Ball a run for his money in those strides… Rock on Tommy! But I can forgive that lovely dress (top left), socks and all! Fashion stars Asia style is up next featuring kimono sleeves, wraparounds and asymmetric necklines with a dose of almond blossom applique in jacquards, silks and linen lawn. I quite like the dress (centre left) with its wide over cut shoulders and would equally give time to the geisha style dress (centre right) but I’m not entirely sold on the sleeves. Irritated even by the thought of them flapping round my elbows! Asia style I keep promising myself a white shirt and the next section serves to remind me that it is a must have timeless wardrobe essential to dress up or down. That said, I’m not really drawn to any of these. I’ve got one in mind that goes by the name of Edith! A fabulous 50s style blouse pattern designed by Maria Denmark. The following shirts have their place but create just a bit too much white space for me. The ‘masterpiece’ a la John Richmond (bottom left) is 80s blouson typique in an extravagant mix of organza satin and linen. Totally time machine worthy! And even though its not included, I so totally want a black leather circle skirt. White shirts Plus fashions go Patagonia stylee this month. It’s all about patterns, layers and colours. That cape is so earmarked for my next UK camping trip. I will be the envy of all fellow campers. Though I imagine a few pleading orders will arise out of it too! The blue rouched jumper is described as a shirt if Angora jersey. I like it a lot. And I love the dress too with its high waist and softly frayed ruffle neckline. Plus fashion Baby Bliss rounds up this months collection with some really cute makes. Apart from the diddy clothes, patterns are also included for that cute little case and the doll and the moccasins. I don’t have a baby anymore but I so want to make all of these especially the dress and the blouse and the coat… Baby bliss

So there we have it! Mission September Burdastyle i-phone blog post complete. Squiffy eyes and permanent pointy finger but so happily delivered from the comfort if the poolside! Wishing you all summer loveliness and looking forward to reading about your new creations. Laters x

ooobop! review: Burda Style August 2013

Burdastyle Magazine August 2013

Well hello August Burdastyle Mag with 16 Free Patterns. So very pleased to receive you!

This month veers completely away from the beach and heads into Autumn with a whole range of styles. Heaven knows how the Burda team keeps it up each month. It’s as much as I can do to come up with one style that I wan’t to actually make!

Neo Romantic a la Downton Abbey, makes a dramatic entrance with chiffon and ruffles. Very reminiscent too of my 80s New Romantic phase. I’d have killed for a neck ruffle like that back then… and actually maybe now! Don’t ask me about the Michael Jacksonesque lace blouse though. I actually don’t have words. But I did use to have a dress very similar to that white one, top right. Though mine didn’t look like I was wearing pants over the top!

neo romantic burda august 2013The lace dress in the centre is lined with silk. A fitted bodice and three quarter length sleeves make for a very special dress indeed. I don’t reckon I could carry off the Hong Kong Phooey look, alongside, though.

Bottom row left corner, coat is a very simple but stylish design and I might have considered it had I not have accidentally on purpose purchased a good looking coat pattern just recently 😉

I like the pinafore dress though. Very much. But it’s odd that the chiffon sleeves are joined on. I would defo leave them out and have the option to wear my own blouse under or not.

And that jacket, bottom right is really cute. I would defo have worn that in the 80s and I might be persuaded now. Leather puffy sleeves or not!

Described as having graphic inspiration from the 20s, I get an 80s vibe too from this next section: Form and Style. I don’t dislike anything from this section, I just don’t think it’s my thing. It’s a bit too ‘blocky’ and casual for me. I’m aware that it’s completely away from my colour palette (kidding myself I actually have one) and as much as I try and envisage the styles in a teal or a red or a black or an orange, it’s still not working for me. The skirt, top row centre, is quite interesting though.

Form and style section

And then enter the Style Icons!

Swinging London, rock ‘n’ roll meets bohemia. Now that’s very much more up my street.

I have had a blouse like the first one on my list for such a long time but the leopard print chiffon brings it up a line or two. I love the idea of leather drainpipes but might have to rein myself in a bit there! The jacket top centre is a very sleek chic sort and there’s a great step by step tute included for this one too.

Check out that cape! Kind of commands a big floppy brimmed hat to carry off the whole dramatic look and I might be inclined to add a pair of thigh high leather platform boots. (Woahhh…..there I go again!)

One of these days I will run up a maxi. I’m sure I won’t look back. I love the whole floaty nature of them but I just can’t seem to get going on one. Too busy eyeing up the leather pants and fitted jacket look! (bottom right)

style icons section

Am I just fickle or is the next ‘All in Red’ section the best? Am I blinded by one of my favourite colours or are all of these styles indeed strong, sophisticated and stylish, red or not?

all in red sectionOk, ‘all’ might be a bit of an exaggeration. The peplum is still hanging around. Just to annoy me. I got vaguely interested in creating something with a peplum at the beginning of the year. I toyed with it in my head and for whatever reason, now it just really annoys me. There is a ridiculous amount of volume in the front of this one too. I don’t need that kind of volume placement, I can tell you!

But I do like everything else. That gorgeous dress top left is made of washed silk. Red washed silk! So cool and soft and luxurious. I love that massive bow. But I dislike the pockets. I think they are too much for a fabric so delicate.

Red silk velvet for the dress 3rd one along top. I would make the front opening a tad more discreet but I do love an empire waistline. The collar stands higher at the front than at the back and again I love the three quarter length sleeves. Teamed with some 60 derniers and some Docs, I would be happy as some Larrys in that cheeky little number!

The coat is lovely but not as lovely as mine! 😉

The jacket bottom and bottom right is the one that has a supporting step by step tute. Such a versatile shape. Teamed with strides or a skirt. Dressed up or down. But properly bringing some class each time.

No little retro number for me to harp over this issue but there is a special Designer Style a la Wolfgang Joop. I had a ‘quick’ Google of the Wunderkind label and was pleasantly surprised. This dress pattern, though tamer than most of the dramatic styles I saw, is an attention seeker nonetheless. (Would be even moreso in red!) And oh how I love that style of fashion drawing. Going to teach myself how to draw like that one day.

Wunderkind dress

But it’s the Plus Fashion section that captures some fine vintage styling for me. I love all the styles apart from the crazy wide cut silk trousers. It would take someone special to carry them off. I’m getting closer in my quest to grade patterns, having just dipped my toe in with my latest dress. So I’m taking more notice of the bigger sizes with the hope that one day my grading skills will be enough to start with any size and make it fit me just so!

plus size burda august 2013

And so the Children section wraps up this issue. But not in such an uber dramatic way. The coat is lovely but Little Miss Ooobop didn’t look overly impressed. And both of us agree that the skirt looks more like a sewing fail than anything else! I’m sure the T-shirt pattern will come in handy at some point but hey. I’m not complaining. I could do without a small person adding more to my list!

burda kids august 2013Any faves? Any already made up? Do tell. x

Burda birdie drawstring top

blue bird drawstring top

I knew I’d make another one of these. I just needed another metre of fun chiffon and this little birdie print was perfect. All totally synthetic of course but I’m learning not to be such a fabric snob in my old age and hey… you can’t argue at £2.50 a metre!

I had a couple of issues with the last one I made, namely the size of the armholes. It transpires that this was partially due to the stretch in the other fabric because the alterations I made – namely ditching the side seam allowance and raising the underarm point by 1 inch – have made a larger difference than anticipated. But its all good and there will be no fashion faux pas when wearing this one!

blue bird drawstring top

Advisable to seam the sides with French seams. It gives a very satisfying finish but the instructions provided are otherwise very simple to follow.

Below is a pic of the back view as requested. Exactly the same as the front, in case you thought I might have the ability to rotate my head a whole 180 degrees! And you also get to see the print a bit better here too.

blue bird drawstring top back view

Actually. Maybe they’re not birdies. Maybe they are the little fluffy bits from a dandelion clock. Hey ho. Cute all the same!

Since my last post, the instructions for the pattern are free to download from Burdastyle here. It’s called the Summer Tank 05/2013. If you are not already a member I can assure you it’s worth the registration with this site. The gallery is constantly being updated with inspirational uploads from fellow sewists and there are plenty of other free pattern downlads available among the great ones you can purchase.

Thanks as always to Mr O for the great photography. He snapped these literally in seconds this evening. That birthday camera was worth its weight in gold! 😉

Burda drawstring top

‘Well about bloomin’ time!’ I hear you say… again! After all those reviews, all those bigging-up posts harping on about what I fully intended to make, you’d think I’d have rustled up at least one of those Burda goodies by now.

Well here it is. Care of Burdastyle Magazine, May 2013 issue, the drawstring top.

drawstring top
Fashioned from a lovely piece of chiffon that was hanging around after the fabric swap at Rachel’s meet up back in April. Incidentally, if anyone can put their hands up as to whom was the kind donor I would be so happy to know.

I had no idea it was destined for this top but I was secretly hoping that whatever I made, it was going to incorporate a flower placement, both front and back. And guess what? It does!

drawstring neck
It is the most simplest top in the world. One you have to draft yourself, mind! And I don’t mind that at all as it goes.

I’ve been tinkering with all sorts of pattern adjustments recently, including an FBA. Not for me, you understand. Which is why it’s far more exciting. I am making a prom dress for my friend’s gorgeous daughter. But more news about that in a couple of weeks. The dress is a big secret until her big day!

Anyway, I digress. Back to the top. Well, actually there is nothing much more to add, other than I figured out how to cut chiffon in a straight line after I had cut it on the wonk! I thought I was being clever by pulling a thread at the hem to make sure I hemmed it even. But actually I’d cut it completely on the wonk and the whole thing ended up being about 2 inches shorter than planned as a result :-/

I used a rolled hem… not by using my rubbish rolled hem foot… but by hand. It was a slow but sure process but it worked just fine.

The pieces consist of a front and a back, seamed only at the sides, with a drawstring around the neck. The raglan armholes are rather large – much larger than the photographs show – and you will therefore require a modesty garment underneath unless you reduce them beforehand.

This is how it appears in the mag:

chiffon drawstring top from Burda May 2013I made it in a panic when I thought I was running out of Me-Made-May garments but never actually got round to wearing it because of this stupid pretend summer we are having. But it was perfect for today’s Father’s day date at Café Rouge and even got the seal of approval from my eldest daughter…Win!

drawstring chiffon top

Now, back to that prom dress…

ooobop! review: Burda Style June 2013

Burda magazine June 2013

Can you believe this is the summer edition of June 2013? I can’t. I’m wrapped in my fleecy blanky, fingerless gloves no less, shivering my butt off as I point blank refuse to turn the heating on. My toes are curled for no other reason other than I can’t uncurl them because they are frozen solid. Is this weather for real?

I really want to get excited about summer clothes, really I do. But I’m struggling. So if you hear a slightly less enthusiastic tone this month, please bear with!

First section up is… Summer Fashion… ha! “Keep looking stylish, even in the heat…” is the opening line of the first intro copy.  Ha bloody ha! Rub it in why don’t ya!

Summer fashion Burda June 2013Ok. I’m going to try. I actually do really like the hand finishing on the brown shift dress, bottom left (above). Its a great couture technique that I’m thinking of employing on a future wool crepe dress I have planned.

The shorts, centre, bottom row, are not dissimilar to the plaid shorts I made. These ones are made with stretch pique which sounds more comfy. I will defo give these a go as one of my gripes was the lack of facing with with Simplicity ones. I know I could probably draft one but hey, I don’t need to now! A bit difficult to see in the photo (top row, centre pic) but that t-shirt looks to be a good fit with side panels and neat little sleeves. Don’t have an overlocker as yet and I’m wincing at the thought of messy insides so I’ll just hang on a bit for that one until I win the lottery. Boy I can’t believe how much those overlockers are!

My dislikes are the pink pants, bottom right. I love this look on the right kind of body. I don’t have that kind of body, unfortunately so they won’t be appearing on my list anytime soon. As won’t that dress top left corner, funnily enough. I say funnily enough because at first glance it looks like a classy dress. Save the pompoms! But it’s not even the pompoms that are putting me off. I quite like them. Its more the “artfully laid little pleats” that appear on the right shoulder aligned with the left hip. Even from the photo I can see some annoying crosswise folds that would annoy the heck outa me!

So who doesn’t like lots of dots? That’s the theme for the next section:

Lots of dots Burda June 2013I think I can safely say I like everything in this section save the long shorts, first column middle row. Just a bit unflattering and boyish for me. I love the shirt-dress top right, most of all. If Me-Made-May’13 has taught me anything it’s that I need more shirt dresses. I love how comfortable and stylish and edgy they can be. It’s not to do with cutting edge design. More clever choice of fabric that makes a great shirt dress. And I’d love to have one for every day of the week. This is quite a slim-fit one and it sure fits the bill as far as I’m concerned.

The shift dress, bottom right corner, has some great side panels that are piped. I still haven’t attempted piping but this would be a great opportunity to practice. It would also be a great chance to practise some colour blocking too. Employing some block colour in those panels would create a great slimming effect.

The cowl top with gathered sides (top left corner) is a firm fave too. Much more stylish to wear than a plain old T! And I love the yellow swinging full skirt. Perhaps not in yellow though. It’s got plenty inset godets on top of all the gathering. And a big bow at the waistband. Dead funky!

The next section is all about beach wedding/party dresses. I truly have goosebumps right now thinking about how the chiffons and georgettes might feel next to my skin, but there are some pretties…

beach beauty section burda June 2013The cowl neck dress, bottom left corner, is my favourite here. With its side gathers and simple shape I think it could be really flattering and perfect for a few evening cocktails on the beach. The dress, top right, is quite stunning and doesn’t look that difficult to construct but there is some yardage of crèpe satin going on here, so it’s not really for the ‘thrifties’ among us!

I don’t dislike the others. They all have their place. Apart from the strange diagonal pleated bodice dress, top left corner – same issues as that purple dress in the first section. Oh, and that one sleeve wonder dress bottom right corner. Not sure I could handle that!

So, swiftly we move on to ‘Surfer Girl’. Not me. Not any part of it. I have noted there are a lot of runners that sew. Or sewists that run! I wish I could say I was one of those. But I’m not so I will leave judgement in the hands of the “Sporty Spices” of the sewing blogger nation…

surfer girl section June 2013That said, the little jersey skirt in the centre, bottom row, could be a quick and easy casual make for holidays and weekends. The jacket is a bit 80s for me, mind!

The Mother & Daughter section is at the very least tweeee!

Mother and Daughter section June 2013Would anyone ever consider dressing to match their daughter?

I quite like the dress, top centre. Though it looks a bit starchy in the batiste. I might be inclined to use something slightly drapier. I do really like the idea of printing on the fabric though. That would totally seal the uniqueness of the garments. You could really create some signature pieces with a clever use of design. I just made a skirt, similar to the star-print one, top right corner, but from an old vintage curtain. I love the deep waistband. I need to finish mine but I hope it looks as good as it does on this mummy!

The Plus Section gets as much attention, if not more this month:

Plus fashions June 2013I love how each of these designs incorporate clever structured detail to flatter the curviest of bods. Simple lines and crepe satin exude the elegance and the loose cut sleeves and empire waistline of that red dress, bottom left is simple yet stunning. But the one I like most is the red dress on the right. Cute standy up collar and dinky button loops on a fabulous yoke bodice add perfect detail to really versatile dress.

So what do you all think? Any faves? Any absolute disses?

I’m off up the wooden hill to Bedforshire right now. I’ve given up trying to keep warm. But I’m still thinking shirt dress. Perhaps in some rockabilly print that I have in a box somewhere. I’ll dream about it and see how it looks!

Night all. And thanks so much for keeping up with my ramblings x

Fabrics that fashioned a band

For someone who has lived, worked and partied with musicians since a very early age, it’s shocking how little I used to listen to the radio. But, thankfully, my new found obsessionial love of sewing has sparked a renewed love of radio, in particular BBC Radio 6! A great all round, varied, genius playlist even though it does draw attention to my short term memory! Such brilliant company at night when everyone’s in bed and it’s just me and the the hum of the machine. And by day at work when I’ve got my designer head on, but sshhh not too loud though, some people can’t hear themselves think! ;-).

Many a planted seed, conversation, memory, argument and debate has been triggered just from the intro of a song that was from the 70s, 80s, or 90s… or even last week…. have you heard David Bowies new single? ♥

Anyhows, one such seed that got firmly planted was the realization of how many bands were named as types of fabric!

So here you go, in no particular order:

1. The Chiffons (A lovely one to have stuck in your head)

2. Suede (Oh yes!)

3. Corduroy (Remember these?)

4. Black Lace (sorry!)

5. Velvet Revolver (woken up yet?)

6. Velvet Underground (Another velvet, sorry cheating a bit!)

7. Psychedelic Furs (I won cinema tickets to see the movie from a radio phone in!)

8. Billy Cotton and His Band (I used to work in the road behind the Lambeth Walk!)

9. The Swinging Blue Jeans (Well kind of Denim!)

10. Elastica (Forgot how much I like this!)

I feel sure I’ve missed one or two. Can you think of any I shouldn’t have missed?

Happy Thursday everyone! x