DIY Ulyana Sergeenko Skirt
Do you remember just before summer, I was going on about making a Ulyana Sergeenko skirt, in the post From Russia With Love?
Well in true Carolyn spirit, it has only taken me a whole season to actually complete it – just in time to go into winter! Grrrr….
I was actually going to make a summer halter-neck dress out of this fabric, using Simplicity pattern 3823. But once I started putting it together, I thought, stuff it – I’m just going to make this into a skirt.
So I just followed all the skirt instructions until it got to fixing it onto the bodice. Of course it did mean I had to make my own waistband, so I thought why not embellish it with a little bit of vintage lace and some pearl buttons down the side?
The dress came with a petticoat pattern and to be honest, to get the whole Sergeenko skirt effect, I would recommend making it or buying one. The photos below were taken without a petticoat, and you can imagine that with one, the skirt would be considerably fuller.
I didn’t have any Sergeenko booties but since Ulyana is wearing platforms in the first pic, I thought I would follow suit. Only, this is as far as I would get, they’re fine for styling purposes but jeez…I can hardly put one foot in front of the other!
I’ve now purchased a black floral print fabric so I’m thinking I might make a black folk skirt, which I can then wear with black boots. I will definitely make a petticoat this time, think it needs the va va voom!
Don’t forget you still have one more day to enter the 100th Post Giveaway! So if you haven’t already, get commenting…….
How To Make Your Own Statement Necklace
Statement necklaces are everywhere and where better to find inspiration than pinterest:
Be that as it may, bib, statement, collar necklaces- whatever you like to call them – can make an ordinary outfit unique.
So here’s a round up of what I’ve found so far:
Erickson Beamon £935 from Netaporter
Multi-faceted stone ribbon necklace £17.50, Marks and Spencer
Three stranded necklace £29, Toast
Bib Statement Necklace, $38 Etsy
Icy Rhinestone Statement Necklace $29, Etsy
Anton Heunis Necklace £329, My Wardrobe
If your feeling creative and you know exactly what you want, why not do it yourself? There is a wonderful book, Chic On A Shoestring by Mary Jane Baxter, which shows you exactly what to do and even includes templates – how can you possibly go wrong?
“Trace the template of your choice. Pin on to your fabric and cut out.
Start arranging your chosen stash of treasure onto the fabric. Play with different possibilities. If you come up an arrangement you like, take a couple of photos so you can remember where everything goes. Don’t worry about things being symmetrical or even – this is meant to be random. However, don’t put anything heavy on one side of the necklace without balancing the weight on the other side or your finished piece will slip around when you’re wearing it – very annoying.
When you’re happy, take everything off the fabric and stitch it back on bit by bit. It helps to sew on no more than five things at a time so that if you snap a thread, the whole lot won’t come undone. Use a double thread for strength. Don’t worry about how messy the reverse looks, you can cover that up with the backing.
Once your happy, try on the necklace and pin it in place at the back. Trim down the ends if necessary to get the correct fit. Sew a length of ribbon to each end of the necklace so you can tie it on round your neck. You can wear it either high up of lower down, it’s completely up to you!
Take the backing felt and cut out an identical shape to the first one. Trim the edges down so it’s a bit smaller all round than the original. Pin to the back of the necklace and sew in place, making sure your stitches don’t show up too much on the front. Try to keep them as small as possible.
So many projects and so little time!
DIY Veronica Lake
My friend had a fancy dress birthday party over the weekend.
If there is ever an opportunity to dress up head to toe in vintage, I’m in.
After trying to persuade my husband to go as a mobster he defiantly insisted on going as John McEnroe. Hmm should we go as a couple and I dress up in tennis regalia and go as Martina or Chris Evert?
Should I hell!
My choice for the evening – Lynn Bracken aka Veronica Lake in LA Confidential.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the film, Lynn is a prostitute who is a Veronica Lake (1940s movie star and pin up girl) look-alike.
My choice of outfit?
The one when Bud first sees her in her opera cape, or as the Costume Designer puts it:
“Lynn, a smart,sad Veronica Lake look-alike,is the crown jewel of Pierce Patchett’s stable of girls, and her wardrobe shows it.Bud spies her on Christmas Eve in a liquor store:she wears a dramatic black velvet cape with a white-satin-lined cowl, an elegant errand girl with bright red lips.” (The Costume Designer 2008)
So, where to start?
Well, I was going to make a cape from scratch but to be honest that would have meant buying some black velvet, and I was adamant that I wasn’t going to spend loads on this outfit.
So I spotted a great velour version on Amazon for a mere £10. Then with some white lining fabric I made the lining for the hood, by making a pattern out of baking paper:
and with the help of a certain person…
….hand-stitched the lining into the hood:
Underneath I had a vintage 1930s dress which I purchased a while back from a vintage fair.
But the clothes were just for starters. What about hair and makeup?
Veronica Lake was famous for her peek-a-boo hair.
Apparently the reason behind her style was due to the fact that one eye was much wider set than the other and she used her hair to level out her look.
Her hair is pin curl perfection and quite a feat.
So here is a wonderful guide to pin-curls which I found on pin interest, which I followed:
You should really do this before going to bed and sleep on them but the last time I did that I woke up looking like Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie!
So this time I set them in the morning and took them out after lunch – since Veronica’s hair is actually very sleek. Then I brushed and brushed and brushed………..
I studied Kim’s makeup in LA Confidential and then had a quick look at some colour pictures of Veronica.
It struck me that actually the eyes are quite soft – brown shadow with a touch of grey at the outer edges. I opted for brown lashes and brown liner. I rounded my brows are rounded and tried to sculpt my cheekbones. And of course finished it off with red lips.
This was my plan:
and et voila – ready to go .
Kim Basinger? Not quite – but not a bad effort and an extremely funny evening.
My only fashion faux pas? My partner in crime – a curly wigged husband, waving a tennis racket!
A Dress of Envy – Atonement
My very gorgeous cousin in law was going to a wedding at St Paul’s Cathedral and she asked me to make her a dress. Aha, I thought, another one to add to the recreating vintage list.
When asked what sort of dress she would like, she replied “that green dress in Atonement”. Hmmm – not just any dress, that green dress in Atonement – who doesn’t want that green dress? I have lusted after that dress since the first time I saw it.
The problem is – it’s one hell of a complicated dress!
I won’t go into a full description of the construction of the Atonement dress as there are a couple of excellent articles (threadbythread and kartanonrouva) which do that job very nicely but needless to say it is a labour of love.
I searched my vintage patterns sites for a similar pattern but couldn’t find one and, since reading the above articles, I now realise why. The pattern is actually a combination of 20s, 30s and 40s features – it didn’t actually exist at the time.
So we concentrated on finding a pattern that had similar ruching in the front, a delicate back and a full skirt. We finally found a Vogue pattern (V8556) which would be more than adequate.
So armed with green satin we beavered away.
I have to admit I didn’t do this project alone, sometimes you just can’t do without your mum. There was even a late night phone call to my grandmother, in South Africa, for advice on attaching a zip to a ruched bodice. It turned into a family affair.
The ruching was rather difficult – since without sitting on the body it looked as if it wasn’t going to ruche at all. It needs the stretch to bring the fabric together. A good few headaches later regarding a strategy on how to actually get into the dress, we finally completed our Atonement Dress.
Miranda and I were doing the makeup at the wedding so fortunately I was able to see her hair and makeup and take some pics before she went off to the ceremony.
Martin, the hairdresser just casually twisted Miranda’s hair into a gorgeous setting at the back – perfect for the little feather comb I had made for her hair. We finished accessorizing with my favourite gold dress clips and gold earrings.
She looked fabulous (even if I do say so myself).
Against the railings of an London Street, she really did look like she had just come out of the 1930s. I’m really quite jealous now – I just might need to make another one. Oh, my mum is blaspheming behind me – perhaps not!
On that note I am now on the hunt for my next vintage recreation – any suggestions gratefully received.
Phew, this challenge I have set myself is sure keeping me out of mischief!
Eat your heart out Erte
Accompaniment: Jazz (Interlude) – Gil Scott Heron, Jamie XX
Phew……..finally finished this month’s Vintage Recreation! And boy, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be.
I bought this beautiful Art Deco edging from the Vintage Fair, and was originally going to make a black camisole and use the edging around the neckline.
However, whilst digging in my overflowing fabric bin, I found this cream silk.
I have no idea when or where I purchased this, but when I put it up against the edging it really brought out the cream detail, so I thought about a change in plan.
The pattern is a very basic (and very old) New Look sleeveless top. I can’t tell you the trouble I had with the silk and the edging fraying – the cat looked like he was covered in a thin film of silk thread from all the droppings.
However, with the help of some trusty bias binding I managed to sew it all down (hope it stays!).
In terms of inspiration, the edging itself was enough. However I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve – it just sort of evolved.
Sometimes the inspiration comes afterwards, almost like an unearthing of an image at the back of your mind.
Now that the top is made, the edging really reminds me of an Erte illustration. It has a very strong Jazz Age feel.
Erte was the only designer in the 20s who illustrated his own designs. “He envisioned women not only as ultra-chic creatures for whom money was no object but also as…..music hall stars, Assyrian princesses, Egyptian Queens.. Yet under this veil of fantasy, the clothes and accessories Erte created, reveal a sound construction that really works.” Stella Blum, Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Curator.
So here’s my adaptation, called “Eat your heart out Erte” (obviously he wouldn’t have struggled with such things as fraying) but it’s an attempt! Complete with obligatory cat photo.
I thought it would suit these high waisted wide-leg black trousers from French Connection or perhaps a full, long black skirt. I would love to try the top with a cream pair of trousers but I would need to be very careful that the cream matched, as this has a touch of yellow in it.
If you have any other suggestions, let me know?
I have two posts planned for next week. I am going to wear a recently purchased, vintage dress from Velvet Atelier, for a friend’s birthday at the weekend so I will take some shots. I am also doing a Tango workshop with my husband (much to his horror), so I think a Tango inspired post is a must!
“Once I read a story about a butterfly in the subway, and today, I saw one. It got on at 42nd, and off at 59th, where, I assume it was going to Bloomingdales to buy a hat that will turn out to be a mistake – as almost all hats are.”
Nikolaus Laszlo, Nora Ephron, and Delia Ephron, You’ve Got Mail
It’s that time of year when Christmas has passed and it feels like we are running the everlasting lap towards Spring – the one that takes the most energy and needs bountiful inspiration.
So until the spring bulbs start appearing, I’m keeping my head down and using this hibernation time to create as much as I can. This was a small project, more of a nibble, rather than my more meaty “Recreating Vintage” monthly pursuit – more of that later in the month.
I found these beautiful embroidered Japanese scraps at a vintage fair in early autumn. Apparently they were part of a huge traditional 19th century embroidered blanket which, I’m told, as a whole, costs a fortune. For some reason this one has been cut up into tiny embroidered pieces (which seems a bit of a travesty) – it must have been stunning as a blanket.
Not too much of a travesty for me though – as I sorted through bundles of colourful butterflies, birds and flowers. I wasn’t entirely sure as to the project I was going to use these pieces for, but wanted to ensure that I found two butterflies that matched, and as much detail surrounding the bird as possible (more for my money, you might say).
Since the fabric is a dense navy wool, I decided to find a navy cardigan and put the motifs either side of the neck and then around the neckline, at the back. However, I didn’t want to spend a fortune and I wanted a good quality wool. Cashmere cardigans are just so expensive but you can’t beat them for wear and tear, they really do last and don’t lose their pile. I finally found a silk, cashmere mix at Uniqlo for £39.90, which is gorgeously soft. Here is the result!
So the sermon for today is don’t walk away from bits of material that catch your eye. Be a magpie since, no matter how scrappy they look, you never know what you can turn them into……a fashion metamorphosis indeed!
And on that note here is some more butterfly inspiration, to wind away the hours until spring….
Clockwise from right: Xenia Taler’s Handpainted Butterfly Tiles, Cotton by Sanderson, Collection of Damien Hirst Butterfly Projects at the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles, Anthropologie Butterfly Mirror, Ercol Butterfly Chair, Damien Hirst Butterfly Deckchair, Loewe Spring Summer 2011, Butterfly Paperweights Cox & Cox, ReFound Butterfly Plates, Sibella Court’s Butterfly Collection,
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Grace Kelly Meets the Gladiator
Doing the daily routine, school runs etc, in slightly distressed vintage is all well and good, and indeed can add to the outfit, but sometimes there are occasions when the evidence of ageing just won’t do. The added advantage of making an outfit from scratch is making it to your size, particularly since the majority of my vintage finds are a tad on the small size. I comfort myself that it’s just evolution – we are obviously just getting bigger!
I really enjoyed making this outfit – so much so that I thought it would be a great idea to make it a monthly “to-do”!
So here starts a new adventure – with a few weddings coming up this year – it will be a great incentive to delve into the ever-growing collection of vintage patterns and get stitching. It will be called Recreating Vintage.
In the 1930’s and 40’s, when Hollywood was perhaps at it’s most glamorous, it was very common to find patterns that were inspired by specific movie stars (those featured below are from So Vintage Patterns). Everyone wanted to have the dress from the latest film and, of course, in those days there were very few off the peg outfits and most women sewed.
In the 1950’s, there seems to have been a decline in these kinds of patterns, I would imagine due to the fact that womenswear was beginning to be mass produced.
Thankfully there are still patterns, if not specifically inspired by films, that show the styles used in the 1950’s films. The outfit that I made was inspired by Grace Kelly in “Rear Window”. I wanted to re-create the beautiful V neckline in the very famous dress Grace wears at the beginning of the film.
Designed by the fabulous Edith Head, Hitchcock wanted “the audience to know immediately that Lisa was a woman who came from wealth. A dress “fresh from the Paris plane’ was how Lisa described her dress, with a fitted black bodice and a deep off-the-shoulder V neckline atop a full skirt to mid-calf, gathered and layered in chiffon tulle”.* The V neckline was an important feature as Edith wanted to make sure the the neckline was kept very simple so that Grace’s face was framed by it for the all important close-up.
I managed to find this rich rust fabric – with a texture almost like thick silk. The skirt was incredibly straightforward. However, there was a lot of fabric, as I wanted to make the skirt longer than the one that Grace wears, floor length, in fact.
The top was more troublesome. Interestingly, at my sewing class, the teacher mentioned that the sizing in patterns hasn’t changed since the 1950’s and, if you look at the actual measurements of various patterns, you’ll realise that what is today’s size 12 in the shops, is considerably larger than a 1950’s size 12 dress pattern. Needless to say I had do a little creative sewing and I had a slight issue with the difference between darts and tucks – but I got there in the end.
This was the result – complete with the most beautiful accessory of all!
Talking of accessories, I bought the belt at a vintage fair but it was (again!) too small – so I took off the ribbon and replaced it with a deep red grosgrain ribbon from VV Rouleaux and a gold lace overlay (also purchased from a vintage fair), which matched perfectly with the gold butterfly design of the buckle. I must say I’m quite impressed with the result and will certainly be looking for more vintage belt buckles in the future.
Another fantastic accessory are these 1930’s clips – they can be used in so many ways. I bought a set of four on ebay for a mere £5 and I have used them here ,on the front and the back of the dress, and also as earrings. You could also use them on shoes (although you’d have to be a little careful not to lose them)!
When I first put the whole outfit on, I was actually quite taken aback at the strength of the colour. The length of the skirt put a completely different spin on the outfit. In fact it spoke of a different era altogether. It reminded me of a Veronica Lake 1930’s number – perhaps even earlier – perhaps a few good centuries earlier! Was it the colour or the cut?
It then came to me, later in the weekend, after watching Gladiator with my son, for his “Roman’s” project. There is Lucilla in a rich red heavily embellished dress. Absolutely stunning and with gold accessories, quite reminiscient of my own creation. I managed to find this beautiful illustration from the promotional shots.
So I have created a cross-breed!
Was I disappointed that the outfit didn’t quite match my initial objective? Not really. The whole effect is more slinky than it would be if I shortened the skirt and I am a long-skirt-kind-of-girl. But that’s always an option and, what the hell, I might even need to make another one – just for 1950’s sake!
Grace would have made an incredible Lucilla – and ironic that the epic proportions of the film are very similar to those of the 50’s. Not sure James Stewart has the tough-guy appeal as Maximus though!
So there we have it. Grace Kelly meets the Gladiator!
* Taken from Edith Head by Jay Jorgensen – available at Amazon