Thursday, 24 April 2014

Her name is Rio and she Greenwich

As some of you might know, I love Whistles. But, unfortunately my bank balance doesn't love their prices - plus if you can make it, why buy it - right?

I love the SS14 collection from Whistles. Metallic skirts, midi length skirts, casual weekend shirts... it really is the style that I like and want...NOW.

For a while I have been in love with their feather print skirt and top. It's a glorious feminine print made in silk organza with a full skirt. The skirt is really cool as the lining finishes a little shorter to allow the bottom to be sheer.

When I was in NYC in March, I hunted high and low for a similar print. Unfortunately, there was no pink feather print to be found, but I did spot a lovely cotton ikat on one of my last days in Mood. It's sheer and light enough for this look and is ultra feminine.

There was no need for a pattern for this skirt. I just used the width of the fabric and gathered it to my waist measurement. I then cut a waistband the desired width (plus seam allowance and a little extra allowing for the fold - remember when you fold a fabric you will lose some measurement in that fold) and the desired length (plus seam allowance and extra to create a button tab).

It's then a very straightforward case of attaching the band to the skirt (after you insert a zip) and ta-da, skirt!

Because this ikat was very sheer, I bought a gorgeous almost pale peach voile from Rolls and Rems and hemmed it above my knee to create the sheer bottom as per the Whistles version.

I am standing like this to show you sheerness, but also because I am a ladyyyyy.

For the lining, I just drafted a very simple skirt block but instead of sewing the darts, I used pleats. Using pleats in a lining allows for a little more movement anyway not to mention being a quick job. I then attached the gathered skirt to the lining before adding the waistband to both layers.

For the ikat, I only had one seam (on the side) and used a french seam to finish. I inserted a 9" invisible zip to the ikat only and then hand-sewed the lining to the zip tape. I finished both skirt hems on the machine.

This skirt feels super nice on and I can't wait to rock it in Brazil for cocktails with Don...oops I mean Mr Szabo. Have you started summer sewing yet?

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Shine on you crazy print: the Lola Woven Pant

I've been wanting to make a relaxed pair of summer trousers for a while. A pair that I could chic up with some heels, but dress down with some flats or sandals. My thoughts were pockets (always pockets), relaxed around the hips, tapered ankle - that kind of thing.

A while back I ordered the Ziggi jacket from Style Arc and there was a promotion in which you received the woven Lola pant free. Cash back!

There was a colourful display of bold prints at the SS14 fashion shows and I thought this vintage fabric, inherited again from Mr Szabo's Grandmother, would work nicely with the Lola pattern. I made them with my trip to Brazil in mind - hopefully Rachel approves!

I ordered a size 10 from Style Arc. If you're unfamiliar with this company, the patterns come in one size and you order based on your measurements. These trousers have pockets, an elasticated waist and a tapered leg.

I would say this is a very straightforward make, although a beginner may scratch their head a little over the pockets - Style Arc patterns include minimal instructions - be warned!

The only criticism I would give this pattern is regarding the instructions for the waistband. To reduce bulk, the waistband has a front panel of fabric that is NOT elasticated. Pictured below.

The instructions tell you to cut the elastic to your preferred measurements. However, that must be incorrect because when you apply the panel, you're adding extra length as you only stitch it to the rest of the band using a 3/8" seam. My first attempt failed and the waistband was far too loose. It could have resulted with me being inadvertently entered into Miss Bum-Bum 2014 in Brazil! Nobody wants to see that.

I ripped off the waistband (fun) and tried again. This time, I cut the elastic a lot shorter in length to compensate for the panel. Bingo! I couldn't find any mention of this in other reviews, so I'm either stupid is as stupid does, or other bloggers were like, yey, trousers, who cares about that waistband shit!?

Other than that, this is a quick and easy pattern which gives a really great fit. I didn't have to make any alterations and i was impressed with how nicely they fit across my bum-bum. Length was fine as well. The beauty of these trousers is definitely that elasticated waist. Call me frumpy, but me and Elvis are excited about elasticated waists - more grilled peanut butter sandwiches less button popping stomach constriction!

I finished the seams with my overlocker except for the pockets which I simply zig zagged.

I have plans for a second pair in a lovely grey Cupro that I picked up in Goldhawk Road. I'm thinking those will look nice with a white linen or denim shirt. Have you tried this pattern or anything from Style Arc? How did you get on? And more importantly, the elasticated waist...yey or nay?

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Thank you for being a friend Dolly Clackett

As Rod said at the beginning of The Faces live cover of Macca's Maybe I'm Amazed, "if you don't know this song, I don't know where you've been."

If you don't know about the Sew Dolly Clackett sewing challenge doing the rounds, then yeah, like my beloved blonde boy from Highgate said, where have you been?! Our gal, Roisin, is getting married to the lovely Nic in May and in a fitting tribute to their nuptials, Sarah at Rhinestones and Telephones created an awesome competition to make a dress in the style of Roisin. The winner is picked by Roisin and gets lots of fab stuff.

I must say I've deviated from the challenge guidelines just a bit. When I think of Roisin, I think about Alan Partridge and Toblerones and tuck dancing drunk in my hallway, but mostly I dream about the retirement home we'll be living in along with Rehanon and Lauren. What gin-infused days those will be.

Stay Golden, Roisin!

I ordered this amazing Golden Girls t-shirt from Miami. A true perfectionist, only the best would do, and this company out there in Florida had the colour, design and fit I wanted to show off those silver sisters. 

To get the 'Dolly Clackett' look and still make a dress I cropped the t-shirt and added it to a gathered skirt made out of the infamous 'swimmers' fabric as sported by Roisin in her beautiful Anna dress. I chose the blue version as I felt it went better with the t-shirt. 

The skirt was dead simple. I just used the width of the fabric (approx 54"), stitched up the one and only side seam, overlocked and then gathered the waist using 3/4" elastic. I then added the t-shirt in the same manner, using a zig zag stitch throughout. I'm wearing a belt in the pic, but here's what it looks like without:

Golden gathering

In true Dixie Lou prison style, I've rolled up my sleeves, got a tattoo and added coral lipstick. I'm also wearing my new favourite shoes - my Mel 'Popstar' wedges that I bought in New York. We all know how Roisin loves her Melissas! 

And of course my entry wouldn't be bona fide unless it was taken in front of a front door and some steps, amirite?

Here's to Roisin and Nic - I'd like to wish them a beautiful, wonderful wedding day and many happy years of cava, NYPD Blue and burritos to come. Love you Ms Clackett xx

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

NYC, a tattoo and a whole lot of fabric

I can't believe it's taken me this long to sit down and write a post about my trip to NYC. I blame jet lag, laziness, work, laziness... blah blah blah, the usual, but here I am.

So, where do I start on telling you all about one of my favourite trips ever? I know I instagramed and tweeted the hell out of my stay, but there are so many intricate details and events that I want to share. How about you ALL come round my house for a Don Draper esque slide show. I'll get out the Kodak carousel and the bourbon! Okay.. maybe not, so we'll have to make do with this blog post for now. Apologies for length!

I started out on my big adventure on Wednesday 12th March. That night, after checking into my cool little pad in the East Village (the young punk in me was literally screaming) I met up with my dear friend, Kirsten, for posh beers in a bar called Proletariat on St Marks Place. I walked in to pretty much an empty bar save for the barman and.... yep... Rod Stewart on the stereo. Talk about walking into the right place right time.

The next day, I was on my own so I decided to get a big brunch (I heartily recommend The Smith) and afterwards walked on to Soho to find Moo Shoes (the only vegan shoe shop in NYC) and Babycakes (vegan cupcakes).

Both were fantastic and lived up to my expectation. Along the way I found some awesome vintage shops (so much better than UK) but my will power was strong; my aim was to head to Century 21 in the financial district for some CK underwear. Little did I know I'd find an Oscar de la Renta bikini for $30! Back of the net!

The cold wind had finally beaten me so I headed to Tribeca Grill (Robert De Niro's restaurant) for a light bite and glass of wine. I always have to go there when I am in NYC in the sheer hope he walks in and wants to marry me. You never know!!!

After my hilarious sighting of Jon Bon Jovi (yes! really!) in Tribeca Grill (I was two large glasses of wine down by this point) I headed to meet Sonja at a Craft Industry Happy Hour - I had such a fun night, I can't talk about this enough. As soon as I walked in I saw Sonja and it felt like meeting an old friend - she's incredible. I  also met the legendary Marcy (who is even more beautiful in real life) and we bonded over our deep love of The Boss. I also met the lovely Jennifer from Workroom Social and Amanda. I got drunk on crazy punch, made friends with the crafty Dr McGee and ended the evening with Sonja and Marcy hailing me a cab, NYC style. Boom.

The next day, feeling a little delicate, I had brunch with Jennifer and the adorable Trice. After that, Trice and I walked around Midtown and despite it being freezing, the sun was shining and New York looked super pretty. I existed on coffee and sunglasses while Trice kept me upbeat by just being lovely. That afternoon, I admitted hangover defeat, and headed back to my apartment to rest and wait for the arrival of my roomie... LAUREN!

Omg...what can I say? Best roomie ever. We got on so well and had such fun staying in our little East Village crib, making our way round the city (walkers unite!), getting our Nyquil on, realising we both loved the same obscure German punk band, falling in love with the cutest barman ever and buying crap loads of fabric. So, Lauren this is for you <3

The weekend that followed was so amazing. We started off walking to Devra's apartment on Saturday morning for a brunch. I was so excited to meet more people and it was the first day that NYC was bearably warm! I was so lucky that I got to meet the elegant and wonderful Carolyn as well as Peter - talk about being a bit star struck! I wore my Rigel Bomber and latest structured knit t-shirt to fully mark the occasion and received lots of compliments - thanks everyone!  

Sorry Sonja, I think you were just entering hyper speed

After a great brunch, we all headed to.... MOOD! This is my favourite shot of us en route to the fabric mecca.

Girl band

Me and Amity in the elevator to Mood. 

I love Wanette!

So, I bet you're all wondering what I bought... well, let's just say I am glad past Clare decided to take a big ugly backpack as her carry-on bag, because that little star carried most of the fabric home including 4 heavy yards of awesome striped knit. The quality felt amazing and I haven't really found anything as cool as this back home. I also grabbed some plaid flannel for another grunge shirt later this year.

The Mood loot (note the metallic silver
linen for a soon to be Whistles copy) 

Also from Mood, this lovely coral vinyl 

From elsewhere in the Garment District 

I also couldn't resist these foxes

Sunday, Lauren and I decided to forego any other plans and head to the garment district again. We met up with Trice, Devra and Sonja and toured the shops that were open. Little did I know we'd fall head over heels in love with SAM, one of the owners of the fabric stores. Sam was quite coy at first until we convinced him to throw a pool party at his house in Long Island. Our summer plans were going swimmingly (hee hee) until he whispered to me his wife was round the corner! Oh well, Mrs Sam, you snooze you lose!

Later that day we did some touristy stuff like Tiffany's, F.A.O Schwarz and checked out the fancy dresses in Saks.

Monday, St Patrick's Day, we headed to YEP the garment district again. Another visit to Mood was in order as well as Pacific Trimmings. Seriously people, this place is a gold mine. There are zips with rainbow coloured teeth, bindings like you've never seen before as well knit ribbing I thought were only in my dreams. I bought this awesome knit ribbing for another bomber. I couldn't leave it behind and at only $6 a strip, BARGAIN!


Monday was particularly cold, so Lauren and I felt it was only right that we stop, have lunch and a pint of guinness before she had to head to the airport. I really could have sat at that bar all day, but we had to get back to Carolyn's office, where she was kindly storing our luggage for us. After a sad goodbye to my roomie, I waited for Kirsten to come and collect me and whisk me off to a new life in Brooklyn.

Ahhh I loved Brooklyn. I have so many nice memories from that second week. From hanging out in Kirsten's apartment listening and watching Ryan Gosling (how I didn't know Ryan was in a band is beyond me!), to eating her perfect salted chocolate cookies PLUS my second week also provided a pivotal point in my life.

On the Wednesday, after much deliberation I decided to go ahead and keep my appointment to get a tattoo... a TATTOO. Originally, I had big plans for a TCB logo nestled in the flowers I laid on Elvis' grave last year, but on the morning of my appointment, I suppose I had this radical change of heart. Don't worry, I still ADORE Elvis, but as much as I am obsessed with that man, my gut instincts told me that what I really needed was to get a tattoo based on my passion for animal rights. It's my daily fight and just made sense.

So, that's how my new buddy Jeremy was born. I got the ferry to Staten Island by myself, walked into Bound for Glory tattoo studio and an awesome vegetarian tattooist from New Jersey (named Jeremy) worked on a great design, combining my love of art nouveau, rabbits and the animal rights slogan - 'Never Be Silent', all while C.W. Stoneking was playing.

Jeremy spoke in classsss tooooday

The design is based on a mixture of Alfonse Mucha, Watership Down and Mackintosh font. I love Jeremy's interpretation and so glad he made sense of my pre-tattoo nervous rambling. If you're in the NYC area and are thinking of getting a tattoo, I really recommend Jeremy (Miller). He's at Bound for Glory tattoo studio and his portfolio is amazing - JT you're the bestest!

I regularly receive negative comments, judgement, bewilderment and even teasing about my vegetarianism and my strong belief in animal rights. It staggers me as this is my life choice based on kindness, health and environmental concerns, so I can't see what is so annoying or crazy, but as the slogan says, I'll never shut up or bury my head in the sand about it. Jeremy is here to stay - permanently!- and he's a motivator for me to continue to be a strong person, confident, and to do what I can to live a kinder life.

The end of my trip was as cool as the start. Kirsten and I hung out as much as possible - I can't thank her enough for letting me stay so long and for being the perfect hostess. She's such a gorgeous person, I'm already wondering how I can see her again. Here's us just casually drinking prosecco on her balcony in Brooklyn (this is my prosecco face) with our new plant friend. Really, Lena Dunham, you have nothing on us.

On my last day in NYC I explored Williamsburg in Brooklyn, finding the Trash Bar, which was so awesome. I sat at the bar talking to Nick the barman about The Cure and he serenaded me with Robert Smith and New Order as he poured me more beer and tequila shots - which is why I ended up doing this.

Girl band 2

Since I got back I HAVE been sewing, honest. I've been working on some secret sewing and also finished a wearable muslin of the Style Arc woven Lola trousers, which I tried out in Barcelona at the weekend. I will do a blog post on this asap as I really like this pattern and have plans for another, dressier pair in cupro.

So, apologies for the long post, I am off for coffee...I suggest you take a nap or hey leave me a comment saying, Clare, no more long posts PLEASE.