Princess Jessica’s Prom Dress

I think I have kept you all in suspense for quite long enough. This evening is Jessica and Tom’s leavers prom and so I am allowed to reveal the dress I have been working on for the last few weeks.

I was feeling a bit poorly today so Mr Ooobop, like the knight in shining armour he is, set off with his new birthday camera without sparing the horses. The following photos are some of the loveliest he has taken. And I think you will agree that the beautiful subjects contribute somewhat to the awesomeness too.

Meet Jessica. The most wonderful 16 year old daughter of my friend Tina. Can you now picture the pressure that was to create her a prom dress fitting for such a beautiful princess?!

Jessica having hair styled

Jessica having hair styled

Tayla Harris was in-house hairdresser for the evening and styled Jessie’s hair beautifully. Complete with little jewels to match her necklace.

Hair jewels

Hair jewels

And ooo… look. A cheeky first glance of the bodice! Such a tease, I know!

Hair styled with jewels to match necklace

Hair styled with jewels to match necklace

With make-up, hair and outfit complete, enter Jessie’s Prince Charming – the lovely Tom. I’m so pleased he liked his tie. He didn’t really have much choice in the matter, bless him. It was delivered seconds before this photo was taken. I only finished it this morning! And here we also have a side view of the prom dress. I’m getting there, honest!

Tom's arrival and receiving the tie

Tom’s arrival and receiving the tie

The tie was made to match Jessie’s sash as you can see. And Tom did a much better job of tying it than I did!

Tom putting on his tie

Tom putting on his tie

Tom looking more like Prince Charming every minute!

Tom looking more like Prince Charming every minute!

So now they were both dressed to impress, Mr O worked his magic and took some awesome shots of them together. Don’t they look adorable?

Jessica and Tom

Jessica and Tom

A beautiful portrait of the prom Princess and her Prince

A beautiful portrait of the prom Princess and her Prince

I would love to be a fly on the wall tonight and take a picture of them dancing together. The dress is a circle skirt underneath 10 layers of gathered polkadot tulle so you can imagine just how twirly and frothy it would be.

A little dance to limber up!

A little dance to limber up!

Jessie came to me with a firm idea of what she wanted and luckily for me there was a very similar pattern in one of my old Burda magazines. I’ve got quite a hefty collection now. It’s always a joy to go through back issues and see patterns you didn’t notice first time round. But this one was on the money! The only thing I had to do, knowing how standard the sizing works, was to do an FBA. And I had to learn how to do it pretty quick!

prom dress idea

Thankfully for me, and for Jess, I had recently come across a great set of instructions on the By Hand London site. These totally took the fear factor out of the whole process. And I learned so much. Not least of all to come down 2 sizes for Jessies petite body and then doing an FBA. It took just 4 fittings to get it right but oh it was so worth it.

Side view of the dress

Side view of the dress

The strapless bodice section of the dress is boned. For good reason! This was a first for me too. Though I did discover some fantastic boning in my local haberdashery department that sold pre-cased boning. I just had to sew it directly onto the open seams.

The front and back have rouched tulle stretched across 2 panels

The front and back have rouched tulle stretched across 2 panels

The front and back have rouched tulle stretched taught across 2 panels. I love the way they ‘butterfly’ out from the centre seam. And I love how classic and timeless they both look here. Reminiscent of the 1950s.

Full skirt. 3 layers.

Full skirt. 3 layers.

The tulle overlay is ivory in colour and works so well to soften the pink. Kind of like a frothy strawberry milkshake, don’t ya think?! Of all the techniques involved in making this dress, funnily (or not so funnily) the most tricksy part was gathering all those 10 metres into a 27 inch waist. I even made several gathering threads to avoid breakage but it was still a nightmare. I ended up gathering small sections at a time and pinning it on the underskirt, on the mannequin and then hand tacked it all together before I even thought of taking it to the machine!

The bodice and skirt are lined in full with a slightly darker pink lining. That was one of the easier bits! Unlike the Burda instructions, I sewed the circle skirt lining to the waist seam and then once the bodice lining was seamed at the top, I turned under and hand-stiched the waist seam of the lining over the raw edge of the skirt lining.

Oh yes! How could I forget? The shoes!! Check out these amazing Kurt Geiger shoes that Jessie snapped up in the sale for a mere £29! Pink patent leather with bows and bling!

Kurt Geiger shoes

Kurt Geiger shoes: Pink patent leather with bows and bling!

Have you got loveliness overload yet? I think I have. But hang on I forgot to show you the back. Pretty bow sash and all

back view of the dress

back view of the dress

And so the ‘royals’, unfazed by their impromptu photoshoot, bade their farewells and headed off to the prom.

En route to the prom

En route to the prom

I would so love to have seen everyone’s faces as they walked in together.

Outside the venue

Outside the venue

A massively big thank you to Mr Ooobop for these amazingly professional photos. I would never have got these together myself. I also have to thank Tina for asking me to make this dress for her beautiful princess. It has been such a huge learning curve for me. I don’t deny there was a fear factor involved. I had no choice but to get it right. But that’s how we learn fast, right?!

And last but not least for the ever obliging Jessica and Tom. You make just the perfect models and have brought such beauty to my blog! I am being totally honest when I say that these pictures brought a tear to my eye. I hope you guys had the time of your life! x

Vintage Festival, Southbank 2011

vintage festival cake

Vintage festival cake!

So here we are . . . better late than never!

Last Sunday I attended the wonderful Vintage Festival on London’s Southbank. The Festival is the brainchild of Designers Wayne and Gerardine Hemmingway, original founders of Red or Dead. I have to say that I did spot Wayne walking around the fringes of one of the fashion shows but I wasn’t brave enough to approach him for a photo. He seemed to go unnoticed for the most part but I wish I had plucked up courage at least to have congratulated him on such a fabulous event. So here is a photo I have ‘borrowed’ from the V&A!

Wayne and Gerardine Hemmingway.

Wayne and Gerardine Hemmingway

It is unlikely that this ‘party’ captured the same spirit as the original Festival of Britain, which was hosted in 1951 as a post war celebration to promote a feeling of recovery and progress in in Britain, but there was indeed an amazing vibe of creative appreciation and social interaction. All things art, music and fashion wrapped up in 6 floors of the Southbank Centre surrounded by sprawling vintage market stalls, nostalgic fairground rides and side shows.

I have since found out that the original Festival of Britain was in itself a celebration of the centenary of the 1851 Great Exhibition But going forward . . . !

We set off at midday after I gave up a whole morning of trying to convince my 7 year old daughter and fiancé to dress up a little for the occasion. 7 year old girls, if you ever have the pleasure, would normally jump at the chance but I have one who is far too contrary and managed to convince me that Tweety Pie t-shirt was from the ‘olden days’. Mr Ooobop had plans on going ’80s metal’ but that somehow jarred a little with my plans on 50’s day dress!

Me and Daniel en route to the festival

Me and Daniel en route to the festival

On arrival we were met with an amazing village of vintage stalls. Free to Joe public. Packed with all things nostalgic, retro and vintage. Lots of people dressed appropriately which in turn had lots of people smiling. Not least of all Mr Ooobop who was already  incredibly distracted by the sea of seamed stockings!

Cherry hats and lingerie

Cherry hats and lingerie

Vintage hats

Vintage hats

There were not as many stalls with fabric and notions as I expected but that was probably a good thing as the tickets weren’t cheap and a day of drinking and eating was going to cost a pretty penny!

Notions

Notions!

We stopped off at the little pop up tea house which was a hit with Samaria. The simple pleasures of 2 lumps or 3 (of sugar) brought immense joy to one who was already beginning to flag under the sun and the annoyance of two parents who were behaving like pigs in muck!

Samaria loves a tea scene

Samaria loves a tea party!

We could have spent all day here, honestly. It was like a treasure trove. But we ditched the temptation to head into the Southbank Centre instead. The festival covered all things vintage 1920’s to 1980’s (although I would personally consider  60’s to 80’s to be more retro than vintage!) The main feature on the first floor was Hot Shots night club. A gorgeously lit dance floor with the most amazing girl band I have ever seen, The Bombshellettes. They were so glamourous as were the people dressed 40’s on the dance floor.

Torch club

The Torch Club

The fabulous Bombshelettes

The fabulous Bombshelettes

ladies on the dance floor

Ladies on the dance floor

Beautiful dresses

Beautiful dresses everywhere you looked!

We supped G&Ts whilst watching the dance lessons and quaffed more than our fair share of Haagen Dazs ice-cream served by 50’s ‘cigarette girls’.

haagen dazs girls

The Haagen Dazs girls

Art was everywhere. Gorgeous photography and a mini Peter Blake Exhibition. The contrast in music styles between rooms was quite incredible. From the glamourous and charming 40’s we swanned past a Pearly King and Queen at the doors of an 80’s disco to get to the Balcony of 70’s soul and then down to the Cotton Club for a proper timewarp and some amazing jiving.

70s soul on the balcony!

70s soul on the balcony!

70s balcony with seams

On the 70s balcony with obligatory seams!

On route of course I couldn’t be in too much of a hurry to leave the craft room. A display of handmade dresses lured me into a long chat with a lovely teacher from Fashion Antidote, a fashion school in East London, a crochet class was in action and a there was place where you could sew your own souvenir vintage bunting. There was an art school too where you could learn printing techniques and sketching. I so wish I was more brave at taking photos of strangers. It really was a wonderful place.

Fashion Antidote

Fashion Antidote

Making souvenir bunting

Making souvenir bunting

It was difficult to cover all aspects of the day. I think we skimmed the surface of most of the events but when I go next time (and I absolutely will go again at the drop of a vintage hat!) I will be sure to spend more time in each area if it means missing out on some. I guess we were a bit too excited. General ‘people-watching’ was definitely the order of the day. In every direction there were stunningly dressed ladies, holding themselves in a way that oozed glamour, but probably because underneath those amazing dresses they were ‘trussed up’ in lingerie, corsetry and suspenders that forced them into straight lines! Im telling you, even with what little effort I made, I have never spent so long in the bathroom to go out for the day. Those ladies of the 50s must have had time on their hands or got up really early in the morning!

We did hop back out to the markets to buy some cool shades but also I was feeling a bit bad that Samaria was duly tagging along. So luckily for her there were some vintage fair ground attractions too!

Helter Skelter

Helter Skelter

The Carousel

The Carousel . . . those Victorians were very clever

One last stop before we left led us to the Pink Bus. A fabulous art installation by artists Victoria Brook and Caroline Fletcher. It is quite literally a pink bus filled with all things nostalgic and retro, cherished, saved and rescued from a landfill. Samaria loved sitting in here and you’d have to sit in there for a very long time to see everything!

Pink bus

Pink bus

Pink bus front end!

Pink bus front end!

Pink Bus back end

Pink Bus back end!

And even on our way back home, the vintage theme continued on the green. How absolutely delightful and British! Roll on next year!

A vintage picnic

A vintage picnic