2016 does 1926: Dorothy Perkins flapper dress rework

So it’s been a long six months since my last blog post! I really am terrible at keeping up with these things.

I have still been striving to make more of my own clothes, but I’m nowhere near the sewing rate I’d like to be at.

Since my last post I made a pair of trousers at the Sew Over It workshop, but haven’t managed to make another yet. I also made a pair of Sew Over It knickers, another thing that I’d like to make more of. I finished the scandi-style crochet jumper (just in time for spring) and the latest things I’ve made in April were a navy blazer for concert band uniform and a Tilly & the Buttons Agnes top. I’m particularly proud of these last two because they are some of the most technical things I’ve made & also that I am most pleased with the fit and finish of.

Anyway, I’ll probably post about those at some point later on. Certainly I’ll be making the Agnes top again and again in different pattern options.

Today, I decided on an impromptu re-work project. It’s Simon’s birthday this week, and we’re going to White Mink in Clapham on Friday night. It’s a 20s themed electroswing dance night, and I suddenly realised I had nothing to wear! Well, nothing that I could comfortably dance the night away in anyway.

Me in a too-long dress, doing some kind of Charleston wave thing…

Fortunately, yesterday was also a day when I decided to sort through the latest bag of castoffs for eBay sales from mum, and lo and behold I found this flapper style dress from Dorothy Perkins. I reckon it might have been one she picked up in a charity shop because the label style looks a bit older than the current ones.

The dress has a stretchy underslip and a lace/crochet style overlay. It’s comfy and fits well – just one problem. It’s about 2 feet too long for me, and with the clingy slip I didn’t have much legroom for Charleston steps…

Taking up the slip was no trouble – I measured up from the floor to the height I wanted the hem to be whilst wearing it, then with the dress on my mannequin I chopped into it. A quick pinning and then overlocked on my sewing machine. I don’t have an overlocker, but my sewing machine has an overlock stitch which I recently discovered and have a feeling I’ll be making more and more use of!

Overlocked new hem

The lace was going to be a bit more tricky. I wasn’t sure if I cut into it whether it would hold together long enough to restitch or whether it would unravel immediately. I played around with an idea of using some leftover silver fabric scrap to make a dropped waistband, and restitching the cut edges of the lace to that. But I didn’t really like how that was going to look, and decided I had to somehow preserve the clean lines of the dress without breaking it up with a feature or an obvious stitch.

So I moved my focus back down to the hem. I knew I wanted to keep the scallop-edge detail, and that I wanted the new underslip hemline to hit roughly at the peak of the scallop so the lace would hang over. I took a deep breath and cut into the lace at the new hemline…it didn’t immediately unravel! Phew. I trimmed down the piece of scalloping to just above the peaks, then with the dress laid flat I pinned the pieces of lace RS together matching the seams. I say pinned, there wasn’t a lot to pin securely so it was a bit loose!

Next I stared at my sewing machine for about 5 minutes trying to work out what stitch to use. In the end I decided to stick with overlock, but instead of catching the raw edges I stitched about 1cm in from the edge. I hoped that this would create a secure bound seam that would hold the lace together. Once sewn, I trimmed back the raw edges quite close to the new stitching, to reduce bulk, and pressed. The lace doesn’t press that well but it did help flatten the seam.

Overlocked lace seam
Shortened lace hem

I had aimed for the seam to be level with the hemline, in the end it’s fallen a bit lower but I decided that trying to unpick black overlock stitching from black lace would be a disaster. I’m happy with the new length anyway so I’ve decided to leave it.

Ready to Charleston!



For the love of Preloved

Ok so two more months have whizzed past since my “excuse” month of not making a #Wardrobe Challenge garment by going to a pattern fitting workshop…

Well July was a write off from the start, since I was away or busy every weekend and as yet I haven’t got good enough to be able to achieve much in the evenings. However, my weekends did include some vintage shopping. I must have spent an  hour in Beyond Retro in Brighton and came away with a playsuit, a navy and white sailor style dress which I think has to be one of my favourite buys to date, and a couple of scarves.

I also reworked a charity shop buy (Star by Julien McDonald for Debenhams) which I wore on my trip to Rome – and felt very glamorous too! The rework involved raising the bustline and re-sewing the elastication, and I gathered the sleeves to create a nicer neckline.

So that was July, I didn’t feel bad for not making anything. August has been a different story. I really haven’t had any excuse for not making something, other than it’s been easy not to. I did put together an outfit for Twinwood festival (next weekend woohoo!), but that was courtesy of the Collectif sale, so doesn’t really count…

Twinwood Look 1
So finally we come to the end of August (nearly) and I had a bit of a Preloved triumph. After the fitting workshop on the advice of some of the others I put up a Preloved wanted ad for a tailor’s dummy – the kind you can alter the measurements of. And just as I was forgetting I’d posted it, I got a reply last week! I went to pick it up this weekend and I’m chuffed – it’s really almost immaculate, as were some of the other items I got at the same time (house clearance) – a pressing ham and roll, pattern drafting/cutting board and fabric! You can see it modelling the sailor dress up above.


So – next weekend is Twinwood but September will be the month I catch up on sewing – now that I have all the tools I could possibly need to fit and finish properly, there is really no excuse left…

80s blouse reworked

On a recent trip to Leamington and Blighty Bazaar I bought two vintage tops from the sale rail for just £4 each. I’m still working on one of them, it’s a bit smaller than I thought and I’m still experimenting with ways to adapt it. The other was easier though, a white 80s blouse with pleat neck detail and double-button front.

This was oversized, so the first thing I did was put in double-point waist darts to draw in the shape.


The second thing was that the neckline was VERY open and not really decent with work…so I’ve stitched that together, in the process giving the pleats a bit more stability.

Finally, I folded the edge of the neckline over and put in a few catch stitches. Originally I think it was meant to be worn with the collar upright and loose at the front, but I wanted more structure than that.


Styled up for work with my favourite houndstooth skirt and a pair of pointy mint court shoes! 80s updated.


Crafting and Upcycling Backlog

Ok, so I haven’t been feeling very inspired by my clothing recently, there are plenty of things in my wardrobe that I like but I feel I’ve been recycling the same outfits and colours again and again. However, I also don’t feel justified in doing the traditional thing at this time of year and hitting the new season lines with my plastic card.

Therefore, I seem to have piled up a few upcycled clothing ideas in my crafting basket!

Way back in May sometime I picked up some Ikea fabric from a car boot (I think I posted about it) and started making a skirt. I lost patience with attempt 1 based on a loose pattern, ripped it up (not quite literally) and started again. Yet, attempt 2 still isn’t to my liking and sits abandoned in the basket. I think the fabric is wrong for the skirt design I want, it won’t hang properly.

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a cardigan from Roman Originals in the sale, which has a really fun dressmakers model print. It had some naff sequins and beads on some of the models which I’ve unpicked, and I wanted to change the buttons. I really liked the ones I got with my free Home Barn copy of Mollie Makes, but they were too big to go through the holes. The cardigan comfortably goes on with the buttons done up anyway, so I decided to just stitch it closed with these buttons. Much better I think, the buttons really stand out.

Model cardiganSo that’s one down…many to go! I have my outfit for the Gatsby themed work christmas party to prepare – silver dress was found in a charity shop last week for £8.95, and just needs the straps and the length taking up a little. I’ve got some length of black lace and some emerald and blue-green beads to embellish with, but beyond a geometric design I’m undecided on the exact changes.

I was also given a really nice skirt this weekend that was mainly for the lovely fabric, beige silk with a geometric pattern, and a wide mint coloured band and sash. Lots of useful bases for ideas – at the moment I’m thinking of transforming it into a top.

No doubt this will be with the help of a recent sale shelf find – Little Green Dresses which is all about upcycling, recycling and generally repurposing fabric and clothing. The eco ethos behind the book is no doubt worthy, but beyond that it looks to be a great bible for both ideas and techniques.

Vintage and upcycling

Oh dear, I have been lacking again. Life is just too busy to blog at the moment! The telling factor is that in the last post I wrote about the monthly Village Market at Beaconsfield, and today I went again. This time though, I came away with a cute liberty button brooch, and a gorgeous Art Nouveau style vintage face powder tin. The lid’s not too stiff and it even still smells of cosmetics inside! I haven’t decided what to keep in it yet. art nouveau tinThis bank holiday weekend I have decided to make no plans other than to finish all my half-done and intended projects! I went to a big car boot at West Wycombe last bank holiday, and picked up some patterned Ikea bedding, which I have started to make a skirt out of using a SisterMag pattern. It’s been in pieces for a fortnight but I’m determined it will become fully formed by Monday evening!

Today though I made a necklace from a watch face I got from the carboot, inspired by Sarah Drew‘s work and one of her pieces I have which has featured on this blog. I also made use of some of her tips from her book ‘Junk Box Jewellery’. All the watch’s side fastenings were still present so it was easy to wrap some wire and connect the chain.

watch necklaceFinally, I was inspired to take the plunge and do something with a pair of tiny amber dice that I have been carrying from house to house with me since 2007. I bought them in the amber markets in the main square in Krakow, Poland, and loved them, even though I had no idea what to do with them. In truth I still had no idea until about 6 months ago when I got my books on upcycling vintage treasures. These were a bit trickier as I had to bend a fiddly wire cage around the dice, but then threading and twisting the hooks on was straightforward.

earringsSo there we are, that’s my start to the bank holiday weekend! What will you do?


A thousand apologies…

I have been severely lacking, in fact it’s been a month since my last post. However, there has been quite a bit going on not least of which a new job and a relocation in the pipeline for me (more on that soon!)

To make a start again, here’s the fruits of my labours earlier this month for the St Piran’s Day Ball. St Piran being the Cornish saint, the theme of the evening was Cornish dress. Lots of people went with accessories in Cornish tartan both traditional and hunting, black and white outfits, or official outfits with kilts and sashes.

I decided to go a little more creative, and picked up a dark turquoise cocktail dress from the second-hand dress shop in town – it’s one of those throw-it-on and go dresses that’s just really comfortable to wear. The beads round the neckline were knackered but that gave me the idea to replace them – you can see the stages of this in the photo collage below. Big square turquoise glass beads broken up by flat glossy black discs and gold glass barrels, with some turquoise faceted beads on the shoulder straps gave a nice Cornish twist (black and gold) without making it a 100% theme dress.

st piran dress

As you can see I also themed my nails with gold and a St Piran flag thumb.

Then I set to work on a brooch/corsage – made of a black flower hair clip I never wear, a St Piran brooch centrepiece, some gold ribbon and some feathers that I dropped on in Hobbycraft while I was looking for beads. I popped the centre out of the flower and worked out the clip from the back, pinned in the brooch and then glued the feathers in place and held with the clip until it had dried. The next night I looped the ribbon and put a stitch in to hold in place, then glued and clipped as with the feathers. Not bad at all!

st piran brooch

They were taking professional photos on the night, sadly the end results were not full length but you can see how I finished the outfit off with a gold shrug, and bronze Cornish St Justin jewellery.

St Pirans Ball_5385 72 cropped