Not Another Sewing Project: The Vivien of Holloway Rosa White Sarong dress with Shane Miller Photography

Back in 2014, I fell in love with a dress in the Vivien of Holloway online sale…a beautiful “rosa white” sarong dress with matching bolero. At the time my Vivien of Holloway collection was not quite as impressive as it is these days and mainly consisted of sateen halterneck pencil and halterneck circle dresses. I am usually a size 10 in Vivien of Holloway (B32, W24, H36). However, as some of you undoubtedly already know, despite Vivien of Holloway producing only a few styles of dress, you sometimes need to size up or down depending on the fabric itself. Up until this point I had been lucky enough to buy all of my dresses from the shop itself on Holloway Road after trying them on for size first, so I knew I was taking a gamble when I placed my order for this beautiful floral sarong dress. To add to this, while I was deliberating, the dress was rapidly snapped up in all sizes except the 10…so I had no choie and order the 10 I did!

When the dress and bolero arrived I fell even harder in love with the summery floral print, and 1940s style inspired by Dorothy Lamour’s attire in her South Pacific-themed films. The bodice is boned and the sarong skirt draped to one side, creating an overall look of “a fabulously pert, curvy and wasp-waisted silhouette” as described by Vivien of Holloway. As you can imagine I was completely devastated when I couldn’t quite zip the dress up over my bust!

I took the dress to Mother-Flounce hoping and praying that she could do something…anything…to adjust this dress for me. She had a little ponder and she came up with a solution. Having seen several of you ladies post about similar heartache recently on Facebook groups such as “1940’s/1950’s Most Marvellous Meet Ups” and “I have a Vivien of Holloway dress and love to wear it” I thought I would share with you how we overcame this problem. Fear not, there is hope ladies! All you need is a matching bolero (or a matching piece of material which you can often buy from the Vivien of Holloway website under “Fabric”).

As you can see from the images here, the seam on either side of the bust was unpicked and a triangular piece of fabric has been inserted to take the dress out a small fraction and allowing it to be zipped up. We determined the size of the fabric needed by first pinning a piece of tracing paper to the dress and creating a template. We then used this template to cut two pieces of matching fabric from the bolero to insert into the dress.

Mother-Flounce was even able to take this fabric from the inside of the bolero, so I could still wear it as a set and nobody would know any different!

I was so pleased with the result and unbelievably chuffed with the fact that I no longer had to return this item. It was the perfect choice for a Springtime shoot with the brilliant Shane Miller of Shane Miller Photography in Upper Basildon. Take a look for yourselves…and know this ladies: if a bargain dress is a little on the tight size all is not necessarily lost!

Monochrome Pattern Clash with Sue Phelps Photography

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This outfit is quite the departure from my usual style. Why? Well although the silhouette is in the fifties style that I love, there are absolutely no bright colours AND there’s pattern clashing!

What brought about this change in style was a new creative partnership with Sue Phelps Photography. In her own words:

I am a lifestyle portrait photographer with a huge passion for lifestyle, vintage and concept portraiture, and frequently offer my skills to help build portfolios. My approach makes everyone feel comfortable around me and my camera, so that the smiles you see in my pictures are genuine and through my work I have made many lifetime friends.
Anyone interested in a portrait photo shoot, or need help building their portfolio, whether experienced or new, please get in touch. I am usually available to shoot most weekdays with very little notice, and am able to travel to shoots. I work for pay or trade, depending on the concept, so please do get in touch.

I usually work with my husband for blog photos but we thought it would be good for me to branch out and work with other photographers. It was quite nerve-wracking meeting someone new and then flouncing about in front of their camera. However, Sue really helped me to relax! She has lots of experience as a professional photographer and it really showed during the shoot: she gave clear direction, she had a great eye for shots and she gave me lots of feedback as we shot. I really hope to work with Sue again (with Flo too).

I took along a selection of outfits for the shoot and laid them all out for Sue to look at – I like to get ideas for outfits from other people. She went straight for this mix of monochromatic pieces- a look I’ve never tried out. I ended up falling in love with the whole outfit and I will be trying out some more pattern clashing looks in the future.

Look No.1

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The basic ensemble was made up of a Lindy Bop ‘Peggy’ skirt, a black Vivien of Holloway petticoat and a striped New Look ‘Bardot’ top.

For my first look, I added black Converse, a sheer black scarf (handmade by Flo) and a Lindy Bop shrug to add to the pattern clash.

For my hair, I just did an overnight wet set with my fringe rolled for bumper bangs. I’m not as skilled with hairdos as Flo is, but I was so happy with how my hair turned out. I did simple winged eyeliner and bright pink lips for my make-up.

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Look No.2

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For my second look,  I added a faux leather jacket, a sheer pink scarf handmade by Flo and studded ankle boots.

I simply changed my hair by pulling it back into a ponytail – I actually prefer this hairstyle!

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I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to Sue Phelps Photography for these gorgeous images – I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to collaborate on this project with such a wonderful, creative woman.

Sewing with Mother-Flounce 1: Bunting

Like most of you, I took sewing lessons at secondary school. I must admit, at the time it never really excited me. History, Art and Science were always the subjects that fascinated me the most. At the time sewing definitely didn’t come naturally to me and so my focus was in other areas. Skip forward 14 years and all of a sudden this past time has taken on a whole new light in my eyes.

Why was this, I hear you ask? Since getting into the world of vintage and pinup, I have developed a bit of an interest in alternative clothing which is not always so readily available on the high street…surely sewing could be the answer to some of my problems? In addition visiting the Fashion on the Ration exhibition at the Imperial War Museum last summer also gave me more of an appreciation for making do and mending what you already have at home. Finally, visiting various vintage festivals and fairs, I am always coming across such fabulous fabrics and often find myself wishing I could sew my own circle skirt or swing dress. The possibilities would literally be endless. All of these factors added up and back in October last year, I set myself the goal of learning to sew. Luckily for me, Mother-Flounce is an absolute whizz on her sewing machine (well on all three of them). Over the years she has taken all kinds of things up, down, in and out for me. Obviously she was delighted at my new found interest and jumped at the chance to teach me all I needed to know!

While picking up my machine at Hobby Craft I noticed that they offer sewing lessons in store (for those of you without a handy Mother-Flounce two minutes around the corner). For these lessons they encourage you to take your own machine along and the experts are on hand to help, giving you the confidence to then go away and have go yourself.

For my very first sewing machine I decided to go for a well known brand…Singer. Now, there are many different models to choose from and I am by no means an expert but after a little research I settled on the Singer Promise 1408. This was for two main reasons. Firstly, I was just starting out, and to begin with I felt more of a basic machine would be suitable. It had all of the main functions that I was going to need, but it was nice and simple and there was certainly less that I could get confused about. When I became a master seamstress, yes I will definitely upgrade! Secondly, my machine belonged to the same Promise range as one of my Mum’s more top of the range machines so she would be able to help me out a little easier than if I had gone for a different brand/range entirely.

When I got my new toy home, Mother-Flounce took me through the basics first:

• Threading the needle
• Inserting the bobbin
• Selecting the correct needle for the thickness of the material
• Removing and inserting a new needle
• Using the foot peddle to control the speed
• Pinning your material in such a way that you can easily remove the pins as you sew
• Holding your material in the correct manner as you pass it through the sewing machine
• Using the reverse setting to help prevent all of your hard work from unpicking

Not only was I now beginning to feel a lot more confidant in my abilities. I am not going to lie I was also growing strangely attached to (and a little bit in love with) my sewing machine. Now I was definitely ready for the fun stuff! Lesson 1: Bunting.

I had already purchased several duvets from the pinup bedding range from Asda, and since seeing some very clever ladies on Instagram convert this into beautiful clothing I decided to use this as my material to begin with. I already had this kicking around at home and I figured if it all went horribly wrong, at least I hadn’t spent out lots of money on expensive new fabric. With the help of Mother-Flounce I followed the steps below to make my marvellous pinup-inspired bunting:

1. I drew out a triangular template on card. I adapted mine from a template I had found in a feature in an old Vintage Life Magazine. You can make them however large or small you desire. Triagular or square, whichever you fancy!

2. The material was pinned and cut on a fold; so when you cut the material you are only cutting out two sides of the triangle, then when you unfold the material you have a diamond shape that is equal on both sides.

3. While one of us was drawing around the cardboard template, the other was pinning and cutting the material.

4. When all of the matieral was cut, they were folded back over in to triangles and pinned more securely into place. The pins were placed 1 inch from the top of the triangle and 1 cm from either side (the larger gap at the top would allow us to thread through the roll of hessian later on).

5. I then sewed these triangles together, sewing along the lines I had made with the pins, and removing each pin as I went.

6. The triangles were arranged along a 2 metre roll of hessian that I purchased from Dunelm Mill. You could always use string or ribbon here instead. I managed to fit 13 triangles along the length of the hessian, however you may wish to add more or less depending on preference. I personally like a little gap between each triangle.

7. Once I was happy with the arrangement I pinned the triangles into place and then sewed along the hessian roll in a horizontal direction, again removing the pins as I went to ensure everything stayed in the correct place until I had finished sewing.

8. The strips of bunting were then pressed with an iron. I gently frayed the edges slightly to give them more of a vintage feel.

9. The bunting was hung up around my flat and was just perfect for when I threw myself an afternoon birthday tea party. I even threw in some matching table cloths and serviettes that I made with the material left over!

I was pretty proud of this first sewing project, simple as it was. Any ideas, hints or tips that any of you may have to assist me with my adventure into the word of sewing would be greatly appreciated (especially on clothing patterns that you think will be a good place to start). I will be letting you guys all know how I am doing as I go, so wish me luck!

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The Le Keux Pin-Up Photoshoot Experience

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Roughly a year ago, I treated myself and my little sister to a girly day in Birmingham during February half term. What a fabulous experience it was!

I’d had a look at the Le Keux Vintage Salon online and I fell in love with their gorgeous pin-up styling. Believe it or not, this time last year I had never done a photo shoot, so I was quite nervous and unsure of what the experience would be like. Thankfully, Flo had taken a friend to do the 2 for 1 £99 pin-up shoot a couple of months beforehand. She highly recommended it and so I booked my sister and myself in!

When we got to the salon, it was beautifully set out with pink vanity tables and a little fifties-style diner around one side. Both of us were nervous to start off with but the stylists really put us at ease.

We were given time to choose hair and make-up styles. Then, the makeovers began.

It was a truly wonderful experience – my sister definitely felt like a princess. I asked lots of questions about the pin-up look and the stylists were happy to answer with tips and suggestions.

It’s safe to say we both felt transformed afterwards! Next, we got to choose outfits from the salon’s wardrobe. It was like playing dress up. There was a wide range of sizes in different styles. My sister and I settled on two Lindy Bop dresses that suited our make-up – we even had shoes and petticoats to complete our looks.

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Finally, we had the photo shoot. This was the part we were most nervous about; we’re quite awkward and generally hate having our pictures taken. Neither of us should have worried though – the photographer was really patient and helpful. She gave us tips on posing and positioning. She didn’t even mind when we were messing about!

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All in all, we had a great time at the salon. Both of us got a warm welcome and gorgeous styling. We were really pleased with how our images turned out too! Even if you’ve never been into pin-up, I’d highly recommend the photo shoot with a friend – it’s lots of fun.

Le Keux have three salons: one in Leeds, one in Birmingham and a new one in Leamington Spa. Their pin-up shoots start at £99 but watch out for the 2 for 1 special offers – they’re great value for money!

Flo and I will be heading up to the Leeds salon this summer. What looks should we go for?

The Dita Project: Month 1 Evaluation

You can read about The Dita Project here.

Month 1 of The Dita Project was dedicated to Pilates. Here is a brief round-up of how it went:

  1. Did you stick to it?

Over the month, I managed to get in roughly five sessions a week, so it wasn’t a daily occurrence. Most of the time I ended up doing ten minutes before work.

2. Was it easy to fit in your daily routine?

Yes and no. Before work was the best time for me, however sometimes it felt like more of a chore than something I actually wanted to do.

3. Did you notice any benefits?

My posture has improved and it helped to relieve some muscle soreness after some gym sessions.

4. Were there any drawbacks?

At times I felt it was unnecessary, especially on the days that I went to the gym. I also didn’t get the same feeling of accomplishment as I normally get after a boxing or weights session.

5. Will you continue with this in the long term?

Quite honestly, no I won’t. On days when I don’t go to the gym, I’ll probably do a session of Pilates. Boxing is much more fun for me so I’d rather do ten minutes of that every day.

 

Month 2 is the month of the daily green smoothie – my fridge and freezer are prepped with lots of ingredients already!