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!



1940s Office style

I posted about this dress back in June/July, I bought it for a 1940s themed Hangar Dance. I really love it but for some reason I haven’t worn it since. Today I decided to pull it out for workwear, styled with a brown belt, my new bargain Moda in Pelle shoes (£29.99 down from £59.99) and a vintage yellow scarf.

It’s army green in a wool felt fabric and feels very vintage, but it probably wouldn’t have passed the Utility clothing regulations. It has a lovely floral satin lining throughout, and the bow shape across the bust and even the tucks would probably have been considered “excessive”.

1940s Office style

Bletchley Circle is back on TV and I’m loving the styles the girls are wearing, particularly Susan’s maroon tailored coat and Millie’s tall-girl high waisted trousers and blouses (not a look I can ever pull off, sadly!). The series is set in the early 1950s but the style is definitely more 40s than 50s, we’ve yet to see any hourglass figures or circle skirts.

WIWTW – Two weeks of outfits

Ok, I have been sooo busy with work, I really haven’t done all that much interesting to blog about and it’s taken me until today to put together my WIWTW boards for the last two weeks.

So, week beginning 29th July, I wore these:

So that’s two new purchases; charcoal Mango silk panel t shirt and mint enamel Owl pendant, + grey trousers and New Look grey suede heels with bow detail.

Then it went a bit less sunny so I pulled out some heavier clothing – South black linen trousers and a blouse I’ve had a while but take a new liking to every time I wear it. It’s South (again) and has this heart padlock and chain print on it, it looks feminine but the print gives that little edge.

Later it the week the weather swung back the other way so I rolled out another new (sale) purchase, an Apricot brown polka dot dress. This may seem strangely familiar – because I have the exact same dress in navy! I wear that a lot so it made sense to buy the same in another colour, not something I do all that often. Both these outfits got paired with my purple Irregular choice Patty heels, and with the dress I wore my Mary Mary purple heart necklace. So purple and hearts were the themes that tied them together!

Then, week beginning 5th August, I wore these:

So Mango featured again in outfit 1 – both the blouse and the skirt (the blouse also something I purchased in two colours), plus South nude heels and Jutka & Riska owl earrings.

That was followed up by another sale purchase – Select pale pink blouse with crochet collage and bow detail, Debenhams houndstooth skirt and New Look mint heels, tied together with Primark black and cream art deco earrings.

Graduation outfit dilemma

It’s my MA graduation on Tuesday, the final marker of my entire academic life. Graduation outfits are notoriously difficult – the recommendation is to wear black, like a suit, and to wear a shirt so you can attach your gown hood to a button. Well this sounds like a disaster to me – my bust rather precludes the wearing of buttoned shirts, as they never fit properly, and as for having the weight of a hood pulling on one well that sounds like a recipe for said shirt popping open!

So I threw the suggestions out of the window right from the start, but that didn’t mean I had any good ideas. When I was home the other week I found a nice outfit from Ocean Blue, a floral print navy pencil skirt and coral short sleeve blouse which seemed smart but something I would also wear a lot to work. I knew it would also go with a jacket, clutch and shoes that I had;

Ok, so then I fell out with the shoes – I love them, but they absolutely cram your toes and are very uncomfortable to wear for any length of time. Then it got hot, and I realised I’d be ditching the jacket. THEN I was completely thrown because for the third day of staring at my rail thinking that all my workwear was not summery enough, I resorted to pulling out what I considered to be a ‘non work’ dress; the blue one I bought in Italy. Paired with a blue belt to give it some shape and mint heels, and the Dune bag I bought from TK Maxx the other week, I found I’d suddenly landed on another outfit I really liked…

This also felt smart and a bit more summery, but I figured I ought to give the original outfit a chance. I wore it to work the next day, but with different heels. It’s hard to tell but in real life the skirt does have more distinct coral and peach hues in the floral print.

peach shoe

I’m still not convinced though and suspect I’ll be going with the blue dress combo. The skirt is also not as neat in the wearing as I thought; it creases easily around the waistband and moves around a bit. Anyway I have only a few more hours to decide as I’m leaving for Bristol tomorrow morning and don’t really want to take more shoes than I need to!

What I Wore to Work – A mixed week

Just a brief post this evening as I’m up to my elbows in macarons (don’t ask), to show what I wore to work this week.

Weatherwise, it was really quite a mixed week, with Monday starting sunny then it got overcast and threatened rain mid-week, then yesterday and today bucking up a bit as we head into this scorching weekend forecast.

Monday: Mint got a reprise this week, with my Apricot mint-spot navy dress + mint heels.

Tuesday/Wednesday: The weather went dull, so I reverted to the more wintry ensemble of grey trousers and Next cream & pink butterfly print bowtie blouse, with grey suede New Look heels with a coral bow detail.

Thursday: The weather picked up, plus I went out straight after work to see the Mystery Jets in Kingston, although in the event I decided this outfit was too dressy and substituted the dress for jeans and an H&M drape neck top, also my dress-down Friday outfit.

Next coral jacket, Dorothy Perkins striped dress and Next platform heels.

Stepping back to the 1940s

Now I’m not normally one for costumes, I never really did fancy dress properly at uni and always preferred to concoct an outfit that actually looked genuine, something you would plausibly wear out to a non-theme event.

On the day we got back from Italy last week we also had a party to go to – ’40s in 404′ at the Classic Air Force Trust at Newquay Airport. The event was held in their hangar containing vintage aircraft in various stages of restoration, and there was a swing band and dance group that came to really rack up the atmosphere. Everyone made a great effort with outfits and there were one or two genuine uniforms out of mothballs I think!

So this was my outfit, which I was really chuffed with – the centrepiece being the wartime green ‘Amelie dress’ which was in the sale from Collectif. I paired this with a vintage gold bag I had already, and my cream/gold Ruby Shoo O’haras. The neckline of the dress negates a necklace, so it was just a cream/gold pair of vintage style earrings and my green/gold ring.

1940s Green & Gold Vintage style
We also went and got our hair done and upped the makeup – for a start I wore lipstick which I never do! There were a few aircraft outside the hangar so we braved the cold (still acclimatising backwards from 35C) and snapped some photos too.

What I Wore to Work this Week

So remember a few weeks back I said I’d discovered Polyvore, and might be addicted… well, that turned out to not be entirely true, mainly due to usability. On PC it’s great, but then it took a while to hunt down how to add a ‘clip to’ applet so I could add images from anywhere around the web, not just what they had in their library.

Secondly, I thought it would be a great thing to tatt with during my lunch break from work, but as yet they don’t have an ipad app and the website is not set up for tablet functionality – most problematic is the fact you can’t move or resize objects in sets because the tablet gestures aren’t recognised. This is something they need to sort, pronto. There’s just no excuse for lack of tablet compatibility these days, especially with something like Polyvore.

Other than that, it does fit quite nicely with Pinterest. Lately I’ve decided to compile some private boards with images of all my wardrobe pieces, shoes, accessories etc. This was really since I decided I wanted to create an Italy lookbook. It’s taken a bit of tweaking, and I’ve had to photograph most of my pieces as I could only find good photos of the most recent online. Then I found a nifty app called TouchRetouch to get rid of the coathangers and even out the backgrounds – then in Preview I use the InstantAlpha tool to remove the background entirely, then pin to Pinterest. From Pinterest I can clip to Polyvore, and then when adding to sets the ‘removed background’ setting works perfectly, so I can create sets based on my own wardrobe now. It sounds pretty longwinded but now I’ve got it licked it doesn’t take all that long.

So, below is the Polyvore set for What I Wore to Work this Week – if you click the image it’ll take you to my Polyvore profile.

Mint, Navy & Cream / Black, Cream & Purple

Mon / Tues :  Mango cream pussybow blouse + South navy pencil skirt + Mint New Look courts

Weds / Thurs : Soon textured purple vest + South navy & black trousers + Irregular Choice Patty heels.

All days: Per Una Navy trench coat.

Friday’s “dress down” so that doesn’t count!