Monday, February 28

Shirts and ties

Two weekends ago I picked up a beautiful silk paisley tie from a charity shop near me. The brown/grey tones of the pattern seemed so perfect for my colour palette of choice, and I've been meaning to adapt more towards a menswear-esque uniform for work that's a little easier to throw on in the morning than my more elaborate ensembles. I dressed it in a similar way the first two times I wore it, once with my wide legged grey pinstripe trousers and brogues for a more dapper formal look, and the second with my skinnies, because I enjoyed the way the androgynous-ness of the boots, shirt and tie mixed with my unruly hips and belly in those jeans.

Jumper, Dorothy Perkins, £7
Blouse, M+S via eBay, £15
Trousers, £14, Very
Jeans, Beth Ditto for Evans, £8
Docs, gifted
Brown brogues, Primark, £12
Belt, old vintage stock, £free
Paisley tie, £1, charity shop

I definitely have so many more plans for the tie. I just won this beaaaautiful floral blouse on eBay, and I think pattern clashing and pencil skirts might be in order next, though I'd also love to pair it (and the blouse) with these serious floral palazzos from Very, which are calling so hard to me right now.

Sunday, February 27

Ah, something almost resembling Spring is approaching on occasion at the minute. Certainly not today (though luckily I'm only going out to a local record fair in Leeds), but it was the day I took this. I can't wait to chuck my winter coat to the back of my wardrobe and bring a simple blazer or mac about with me once again.

Blazer, £10, Dorothy Perkins via Fatshion Exchange
Top, £3, Dorothy Perkins
Skirt, £10, Evans via an online sales post
Cameo necklace, £4, online sales post on Thrift Store UK
Tights, M&S
Shoes, £15, Evans

Saturday, February 26

...and we're back

So I have internet contact again! Yay! I'm up in Leeds for the week now, staying at my boyfriend's house, and *hopefully* I might even have my laptop charger by Monday. In the mean time, I actually have photoshop also, so hurrah for non-shit image editing. Here's an outfit from a couple of weekends ago, worn to go shopping for Algerian sausages and various food delights.

Lace body,, £12
Cami, £4, Primark
Waterfall waistcoat, £8 Primark
Shorts, £20,
Docs, gifted

And the epic banquet of the evening. Merguez sausages, potatoes roasted in chilli and chorizo, roasted red peppers, hummus, pittas, lentil dip, olives, followed by many a gin and juice. Yum!

Wednesday, February 16

Hey all

Just to say that my laptop charger has died on me, so I’m waiting until a replacement reaches me to be able to post again! It’s a shame because I’ve had an epic week of thrift scores (paisley tie, gingham blouse, FULL LENGTH (FAKE) FUR COAT FOR £8!!) and I want to show them off! Ho hum... watch this space, anyhow.


Saturday, February 12

Dressing down the dress! Firstly, please excuse me er, pursing(?!) my lips in this picture, I appear to have been a very angry person that morning. Oh dear.

This is how I plan to wear the dress I made in a more casual style - paired with a button up blouse beneath, and my staple docs. I am in love with making my own more formal workwear at the minute (my list of sewing projects grows a bit too quickly perhaps!) - it's great to have items of tailoring that can work during the day that aren't just generic black trousers.

Dress, handmade (from a £4 piece of fabric and reusing an old pattern)
Belt, old vintage stock, £free
Badge, traded with the lovely Donna (who makes the most beautiful purses, photo frames and hair ties ever, seriously!) over on ThriftstoreUK. It has a lion on it!
Tights, M&S
Docs, gifted

Wednesday, February 9

Here's Monday morning for you! I scored this plaid shirt from a junk stall at the open market in Brighton two weekends ago. I seemed to have endless trouble finding button up blouses that actually button up to the collar last year, yet recently I've thrifted two for a pittance! This makes me happy. I get the feeling that button up shirts with this belt, loafers and the Beth Ditto jeans will become my work uniform for spring (I work as a technician in an archive, and my working day generally involves lots of dust and heavy lifting, something my wardrobe is not used to!)

Plaid shirt, found at Brighton Open Market, 50p
Jeans, Beth Ditto for Evans, £8
Belt, old vintage stock, £free
Loafers, vintage, £5

This week has been awesome - after making the polka dot dress for Plus London after work for the best part of two weeks, I needed a good few nights sleep. So evenings have been mainly watching trashy TV, cooking and plotting new projects. I scored this vintage pattern (in a size 26!) on eBay for £5, and I still have the 60s polyester I bought at the marina car boot sale in January, so I'm hoping to tackle it over the next few weeks. Scary exciting! It's a bit harder than the last two dresses I've made, so fingers crossed it still works out. Eep!

Tuesday, February 8

I'm so behind on my outfits of late. Here's one from early last week, trying the ASOS camel pencil skirt I got in the sale in a new way. Not convinced about the pale shoes/dark tights combo, but this is what happens when you get dressed at 6am! Yuck!

Lace body, £12
Cami, Primark, £4
Skirt, ASOS sale, £9
Tights, M&S
Shoes, £12, Primark
Scarf, vintage, £1

Monday, February 7

So onto the evening fun at Plus London! The evening do over at the Strand Gallery involved lots of champagne, cupcakes, and samples from Anna Scholz, Torrid, ASOS Curve and Yours Clothing amongst others (though I was useless and didn't really take many pictures of the clothes). There was also a pop up studio where my friend Caroline and I had some photographs taken (and I pulled my awkward camera horror face for a professional audience).

Annnnnnd, my sewing project in it's completed state! This was a close call, and only got finished on Thursday evening. It's a rehash of the same pattern I used in the summer to make this dress, by Very Easy Vogue (the number is V8615). With this dress I adapted this neckline to make it a round high neckline instead of a bateau as per the original pattern. My drafting didn't quite work, so I ended up pleated the (slightly baggy) neckline and crafting a bow to take onto it, which in hindsight worked pretty well!

I was terrified that a seam would break on the night or something, but it held up really well! Also, the fabric I used seems pretty crease-proof, so definitely suited for my wardrobe and er, lack of ironing skills. I'll definitely be dressing it down later this week. It was great to flounce about in my petticoat again though.

Dress, handmade using a £4 piece of material from the open market in Brighton (the pattern cost me £8 last summer).
Belt, former vintage stock, £free
Petticoat, Vivien of Holloway, £60
Cardigan, gifted by my lovely friend Caroline who found it at the Big Bum Jumble last August.
Tights, £3, Dorothy Perkins
Shoes, £8 Priceless

And also, Caroline's outfit, which I thought was super cute!

All in all, a lovely day, and it was great to get to meet so many amazing bloggers!

Plus London: daytime

So this weekend I attended the much anticipated Plus London meet. Here's a picture during the day section, after we'd all finished shopping and met up again.

Read all about it, and see much better photographs of the event and the outfits on the tumblr here. I only have a few pics as I'm more than slightly awkward about talking/asking people for pictures of their awesome outfits. But suffice to say, it was amazing to see so many different styles in one place, and despite having never met anyone before (and er, being more than slightly socially awkward), I felt comfortable chatting with you all...

Here's what I wore during the day:
I bought the Beth Ditto high waisted skinnies at the very end of the Evans sale (they had 20% off last week, so I scored them for £8!), and actually haven't really taken them off since! They fit perfectly, and haven't sagged at all over the time I've worn them. I've never found a pair of jeans that fit me well at all (the two pairs I own are jeggings, and aren't hugely comfortable), so now I have them, I'm regretting not buying two pairs!

Jacket, Sabrosa Vintage at etsy, £30
Necklace, £2, Primark
Jeans, Beth Ditto for Evans, £8
Shoes, Priceless, £8
Sequinned belt, £3, Dorothy Perkins

Wednesday, February 2

Sewing on a Budget

Sorry for my lack of posting this week! I am super busy, making a dress for the Plus London meet. Also my house hunting has been going badly (we lost out on three houses in a row, and now we’re easing off a bit, to avoid further disappointments), so I’m a bit glum.

As most of you probably know, I am a burgeoning crafter. By that, I mean that for many years I have attempted crafts of sorts. I am a average knitter, a failed crocheter, and I’m interested in embroidery and quilting (though as they are both time consuming hobbies, I haven’t really attempted any yet). As far as crafting goes, I’m not amazing - I work a full time job that sees me out of the house for 11 hours a day, five days a week, and I’m also juggling a long distance relationship, a semi-”band” of sorts and - oh yeah - blogging! So most of the time, I’m lucky to have an hour or two to myself a day, and quite frankly, I don’t have the time to build up epic skills.

Sewing is my favourite hobby, and it’s also the most cost-effective. I’m a bargain hunter in all other aspects, so I don’t believe that crafting should cost you the earth, though it can very easily do so. I’ve yet to pay more than £3 per metre for a fabric, and I can generally craft something which, if I bought, I’d pay lots for (if I could!).

My favourite things to make clothes out of include:

  • Second hand sheets, curtains, duvets. These are great sources of cheap heavy cottons in large quantities, and generally won’t set you back much more than £4 maximum.
  • Vintage fabrics, where available and affordable. I buy these from car boot sales mainly, occasionally shops.
  • Other items of clothing (I have made quite a few granny skirts into pleated skirts with fitted waists. These are cheap and easy to find in charity shops, and are often on the £1 rail!)

For modern fabrics, I also find eBay to be a great resource. Whilst not super cheap, I often pay less on eBay for fabric by the metre than I do in haberdashery shops. Etsy also has fabric options, though I don’t find them particularly cheap.

Patterns are pretty tricky to find in plus sizes, so in these cases, learning to enlarge patterns is your best bet. There are often boxes of patterns in car boot and antiques sales, these are also often to be found on etsy and eBay, so finding patterns for reasonable prices isn't too hard. My skills aren’t quite up to enlarging patterns yet, but I reckon this is the best route to go. Some swift googling just brought me to this, which looks like a reasonable and easy technique to size up vintage patterns, which I am definitely trying next. I’ve also been recommended this book as a resource, though I haven’t bought it yet so am curious to know if it’s as valuable a resource as I’ve been led to believe?

I also recommend searching for online tutorials, using the internet to self-tutor myself in the techniques of garment construction itself. Sometimes what you are looking for is easier to make than you imagine! Also, try inspecting items of clothing you already own, or in high street stores - I made my first skirt by sketching around the outline of a skirt I already owned, then stitching the sides and hems with a simple straight stitch. Start to think about how clothing is made, even if it’s beyond your immediate capabilities, it allows you to better understand what a project requires. I’ve made dresses out of stretchy fabrics with a similar approach (but sketching around a body con dress instead).

With my projects, I try not to expect perfection straight away. My projects started with fairly basic objects - cushion covers and a-line skirts without zips, now I’m competent sewing from patterns and making a relatively tailored dress. With each project I try to advance my skills slightly - in my latest project, I fitted a concealed zip for the first time, and adapted a neckline. It went as well as could be expected (though certainly not professional quality) apart from the neckline, which I ended up having to pleat slightly. Because I spend little on fabrics, I can also afford to make mistakes (though it is always a disappointment!).

As a last note, if you’re just starting out, don’t buy a new sewing machine!Depending on where you live, it’s worth checking whether there are any local resources that allow free use of sewing machines, or allow you to rent one by the hour. I remember Remade in Leeds used to do this, and it was a great way to get a sense of whether sewing was “for you” or not. Personally, I would recommend starting with an older model with a hand crank mechanism. These are everywhere in second hand shops, car boot sales, and on eBay (I got mine for £15 from a car boot), and range between £10 and £50 generally, though £20-30 is the average. These are less daunting to control as a beginner, as you are in full control of the mechanism. They only offer straight stitch, but this is generally all I use currently anyway, and they’re also incredibly durable in the long term.

Otherwise, try buying a refurbished vintage electric sewing machine. I bought mine from eBay for about £50 including postage, though if you look for electric models that haven’t been refurbished further bargains can be had.

Online resources:

DIY Couture

Burda style (check out the “curvaceous” section on the community!)

Gerty’s New Blog For Better Sewing

If anyone has more, please post them in the comments!