You Should've Seen Her Shake It Up Like Orangina - Otome No Sewing Pattern

50s
During my final exams, I snuck home for a weekend and finished this retro-styled beach pin-up dress for a post-exam beach themed party! It’s got a fully shirred back so there was the perfect amount of comfort for dancing in, and the straps are convertible to halter straps.
The pattern is adapted from part of the Otome No Sewing Book (Volume 2). Further information on the book can be found here, but I think the book is out of print now (although further volumes are available on Amazon JP). I used the three panels that make up the bodice. The back and the skirt are just rectangles, so no intense pattern drafting skills necessary!

I tried out a couple of new techniques with this dress - facings with the lining, and adding pockets into the side seams. I'm pleased with how both of them turned out - the facings give a much neater finish.
Overall, I'm really happy with this, especially with the new things I tried out. The only thing I dislike is the strap placement as I think they're too close to my neck. I'm working on drafting my own pattern with a wider centre panel and straps further apart (an example of my pattern is with my London Letters dress, but it's still undergoing some further tweaks for a perfect fit!)

Title from The Bravery's Red Hands and White Knuckles.

You Hollow Out My Hungry Eyes

50s
I've recently got a new job - my first graduate job! - and bought a new dress to celebrate. I was idly browsing a Japanese second-hand store's webshop, and this popped up. It's Metamorphose's Princess Wardrobe print, and I already owned the cream version in a different cut. I like it that much I want to track down the black colourway too!
Metamorphose 'Princess Wardrobe' pinafore dress and necklace - Amavel blouse (all secondhand) - Hush Puppies shoes - eBay socks
 Of course, buying one dress meant that I'd got an open order and thought I might as well add a few more bits if I was going to pay international postage anyway...so I grabbed a few blouses from the auction sites, as well as some jewellery and a makeup brush set. Possibly my favourite thing was this cute alpaca pencil case, which I bought as a present for my mum and couldn't resist Instagramming as soon as I saw it!
 I also treated myself to some vintage blouses in the Beyond Retro sale, and some fabric - which has promptly disappeared into the stash under my desk that I promise myself I am going to get round to working through!
 I went to Manchester in this outfit and looked around the vintage shops. When I holidayed in Manchester in June, a Thrift Shop had opened in Piccadilly Gardens offering three vintage items for £10 - an incredible bargain! Sadly, when I returned the price of dresses had increased to two for £10 or £6 each, and I felt that the range on offer wasn't as good, but I still managed to snag a gorgeous 60s baby-pink minidress.
My father's company has an office in Manchester, and apparently someone from the office spotted me when I was in the thrift shop and asked if I was out and about in Manchester. I guess this outfit is hard to miss! 
I picked up some comics from Travelling Man, a shop I can't come out of without buying something to read. Bee and Puppycat is a YouTube series about a magical temp-work agency, and it's great. I can't wait until more episodes come out, but the graphic novel is filling the hole! I've been enjoying the trailer for the Deadpool movie, and felt I should get to know the character more before watching...and I really love Hawkeye so couldn't resist the team-up.

Title from Taking Back Sunday's MakeDamnSure

All The Oldies & The Goldies Playin' On The Radio [Simplicity 1609]

I already posted pictures of this dress worn, but I wanted to give a proper write-up of sewing the dress itself. This is probably the most quickly I've ever put a dress together, as I decided about 36 hours before graduation that I didn't like what I had planned to wear and that I needed to make something else. I'd had the fabric sitting in my stash for a couple of years, waiting to become part of a skirt for a 1950s-inspired dress, but I'm really glad it got used in this project as I think the simple cut was perfect for showing off the large scale fleur-de-lys pattern!
 This was my first time making up the pattern, but it went together really easily! I'd grabbed Simplicity 1609 and another vintage reprint pattern when patterns were last on sale, and I'm glad I had a pattern that turned out to be quick to put together! I eliminated the front seam, cutting the front piece on the fold instead, as to keep it in would have ended up chopping up the pattern on the fabric.
 I didn't have enough of the fabric to get fussy in how I cut the back, and as a result it's not totally even. It's not too bad, but it would have looked even better if I'd been able to line the pattern up along the centre-back seam.
 This was my first time inserting a lapped zipper - not by choice, but because my local fabric shop didn't have a long enough invisible zip and I didn't have time to shop around! I'd replaced one in another dress, so I wasn't approaching it utterly confused, and it went in really well...all three times that I ended up putting it in.
 Instead of using a facing like the pattern called for, I ended up stitching in bias tape and then hand-stitching it down. I was worried that a facing (something I wasn't experienced with) would confuse me and possibly mean I couldn't finish on time, so I went with a tried and tested method of encasing the raw edges in bias tape. I'm happy with how neat it looks, but it causes the fabric to lay differently than a facing would, so I'll be following the instructed method when I make the pattern again in the hopes of eliminating the awkwardness around the underarm where it sticks out instead of lying flat.

I ended up having time to overedge stitch all the raw edges, which I'm really pleased about! It's a new feature I've been playing with since February, and I like how professional it makes a garment look, as well as hopefully making garments more long lasting. I also finished the hem with my new blind hem foot, which I'm still getting used to but which makes the hem process a lot neater. My only real problems with the dress are the bagginess under the arms, and there's excess fabric at the end of the zip. I know where I went wrong with both of these things, so when I next make up the dress I should be able to eliminate the problems!

Overall, I'm really happy with the dress. It fits well, and it was a welcome change to introduce a short Sixties silhouette into my sewing plans. The pattern went together quickly, and the dress has survived a trip through the washing machine to become part of my work wardrobe.

Title from Studio Killer's Friday Night Gurus.

Magic Days, Golden Nights

I went into Debenhams looking for some T-shirts for some work experience I had on a farm...and came out with this wonderful H! by Henry Holland lemon and lime print dress. Slightly impractical for farm work, but excellent for lazy days in the summer heat (although I ended up going to pick up feed troughs from the store, so in a way it did still get used for farm work!).
H! by Henry Holland dress - Next shoes - eBay belt - New Look cardigan (bought secondhand)
The dress has a small built-in layer of tulle for shaping, and then I'm wearing my lightest petticoat under that to add just a little extra shape. I'm also wearing my hair in sort of faux-Victory rolls - it's a similar effect from the front, but from the side it's obvious that they're not done properly. 


I'm three posts in and already I've repeated my cardigan and belt combination from this outfit. I can't help it, the cardigan goes with so much of my wardrobe I find myself wearing it all the time! I'm wearing different red shoes though - so as well as revealing my habit of wearing the cardigan, I'm also revealing that I have way too many pairs of shoes. These are different to the last ones - these are flats, and therefore I can justify owning both!


I was worried that the polkadots of the cardigan would clash with the dress and be print overload, but I really like how the red makes the navy pop! Next time I think I'll go with white ankle socks to bring some white down to the lower half of the outfit and balance it out. I'm disappointed with the tights because I thought they were a better match for the dress in person!

Title from A's Pacific Ocean Blue

The Ride That Turned Us Inside Out

Approximately 36 hours before my graduation ceremony was due to begin, I decided that I didn't own anything that I wanted to wear, and that I should make a dress to rectify this situation. I had some skeptical responses to this decision, but I managed to complete the dress - even with having to take the zip in and out four times!

Handmade dress - Hush Puppies shoes - Innocent World bag (both bought secondhand)


I used Simplicity 1609 for this, which is a reprint of an authentic 1960s pattern. I'd had the fabric for about two years and still hadn't found a use for it. I'm really glad I used it for this, as it was a comfy dress to sit through the ceremony in and didn't crease at all despite the long drive.

Although the University of Nottingham is gorgeous, these pictures were taken when we stopped off at Thoresby Hall for an ice cream. It feels really odd to be a graduate now - I definitely don't feel ready enough to enter "the Real World", as my dad keeps referring to it!

Title taken from The Academy Is...'s Paper Chase.