Check Mate

So, the last time I did an outfit post, I was wearing a bobble hat and a winter coat. Now (hopefully) it’s time for sunnies and sandals. Hats off to fashion bloggers who put up daily outfit posts – it seems I can barely manage one every few months at the moment. The sunshine has definitely helped me get back into the blogging spirit of things though.

This kimono-style top was a really simple make, using a pattern from Simply Sewing magazine – and when I say simple, I mean simple. It’s just two pieces of fabric sewn together – no fastenings, no facings, no bias binding to contend with. I’m loving straightforward projects at the moment, as they are easy to work on when I get home from a day at actual work, and they are a quick fashion fix – not usually a phrase associated with sewing! I’m hoping to tackle a bigger project soon, but for now I think I’ll stick to ones that don’t challenge me too much; I’ll probably be making this one again in the not-so-distant future.

I chose to make it out of a check crepe fabric from Remnant Kings – it seems to be sold out now, but they have loads of other amazing fabrics to choose from (and there’s a sale on at the moment!). It drapes nicely and ticks the monochrome box, although matching up the checks was a bit of a nightmare as the fabric kept moving around while I was cutting and sewing it.

The cropped, loose shape makes it ideal for summer (and for eating burgers in, which is what I look for in an outfit). I paired it with a skirt made from a refashioned men’s shirt, meaning this is an entirely me-made get-up apart from the accessories, which, as any sewing geek will understand, is always exciting. Speaking of accessories, I recently treated myself to these Rayban sunnies – although tempted by the classic Wayfarers, the more girly, rounded shape of the Erika style made them a winner for me. Now I just have to try not to scratch the lenses or sit on them…

RaybanErikasSummerFlowersCheck TopKurt Geiger BagBirdyMonicaVinaderMariePendantSummerStyleOOTDSummerWalkRaybans

Sunglasses Rayban Bag Kurt Geiger via Shoeaholics (similar hereSandals New Look Necklace Monica Vinader Rings ebay, Nikki Stark & Bloody Mary Metal

Clothes that Care

When you make your own clothes, you come to realise how much time, effort and know-how it takes to create a garment. That’s why I’m always shocked by just how little shops like Primark can sell things for – the people making all those super-cheap dresses and tops are surely not getting a fair deal. So I love discovering brands that have an ethos behind them, be it sustainable, ethical or charitable – these three prove that ethical fashion can be edgy, fun and modern, and that it doesn’t always have to equal mega expensive prices, which is a win in my book.

Made By Riley 

Made By Riley

You might be wondering who the Riley of this brand’s title is, although if you’re a fan of trashy-but-oh-so-good reality TV (like myself) you might already know – she’s part of the MIC alumni. Although it seems like most of the posh MIC peeps have their own fashion label, Made by Riley is a little different in that it’s a charitable brand – its printed tees and sweaters are designed and created in Britain, and a percentage of the proceeds from each garment goes towards various handpicked charities, including Maggie’s Centres, Action Aid and Human Rights Watch. My favourite piece is the Live Your Life sweater – not only is it comfy and stylish, but 20 per cent of the cost is donated to Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Who Made Your Pants?

Who Made Your PantsThe Who Made Your Pants? team believe that pants can change the world. Crazy? Well, maybe not so much – you see, this campaigning lingerie brand is dedicated to tackling some of the most controversial issues in clothing production (and the world) today – wastage, working conditions and women’s opportunities. In a little factory in Southampton they use end-of-season fabrics from big underwear companies to create comfy and colourful undies, and hope to create jobs for women who have had a hard time and help them to thrive and learn new skills. What’s more, all their profits go back into the business for staff training and development. And, as if all those ethical credentials weren’t enough, their pants aren’t half bad either – they’re pretty darn lovely, actually, especially the lacy Aimee shorts.

Cossac

CossacEthical fashion once had a reputation for being a little bit, well, boring and untrendy, but brands like Cossac are adding some much-needed edge to the sustainable clothing scene. Cossac’s mission, according to its website, is to ‘promote transparency in the fashion world and to produce quality garments that are sustainable in both manufacture and design, without sacrificing on style.’ Its clothes are produced in the UK and Turkey in factories that provide just working conditions for its employees, and the majority of its fabrics are Fairtrade, organic, recycled or have low environmental impact. The main collection comprises sleek, minimalistic pieces that are designed to be worn time and again, season to season. The super-cool high-low topslogan tees and tote bag are on my wish list.

Friday Fabric Love: On Cloud Nine

Cloud Print Fabric

1. Cotton cloud print from Cath Kidston. 2. Cloud print on medium cotton from Fabric Rehab. 3. Neon pink and teal clouds from Village Haberdashery. 4. Classic cloud design by Gunila Axén from This Modern Life. 5. Whimsical rain-cloud print by UK-based Dashwood from John Lewis.

For this week’s Friday Fabric Love, my head is well and truly in the clouds. There’s something quite fascinating and magical about clouds – they’re always there, silently floating past our office windows, but we rarely actually look at them (unless we think there’s rain on the way, of course, in which case we monitor their progress intently, trying to guess when the first drop will fall). As kids, though, there seemed to be almost endless time to play the ‘let’s find shapes in the clouds’ game – we had hours aplenty in which to gaze up to the heavens and find all manner of patterns and outlines in the sky. I suppose that’s why clouds remind me of chilled-out days and time off (especially rain clouds – thanks UK weather).

Inspired by Cath Kidston’s lovely cloud-print homewares (how amazing is this lamp?), I went on the hunt for some fabric that would have me on cloud nine. Of course, I’ve included a little number by Cath Kidston, which I think is my favourite of the lot, although the cute cartoony Dashwood rain clouds are a close contender and will give any dull day a silver lining. All are fab for home craft projects and pretty frocks alike.

Farm Life

I grew up in Somerset and I have to admit that I never truly appreciated its picturesque countryside when I lived there. I often bemoaned the lack of things to do (i.e. shops), and complained no end whenever it was suggested we go on a Sunday afternoon walk.

Ironically, going on a stroll around the countryside is now one of my favourite ways to relax of a weekend. I suppose we grown-ups end up with too many of the ‘things to do’ I so wished for when I was young, and so all we want is to get away from the to-do lists and city crowds. So that’s exactly what I did this Bank Holiday weekend, and ended up at a lovely little farm which has all manner of adorable animals on show to the public, from ducklings to meerkats. Entry is free, which obviously made it very popular with families, although I’m not sure who was more excited to see the lambs being fed, me or the hoard of hyperactive kids that were there (I admit, it was probably me). I really wanted to steal one (a lamb, obvs, not a child).

My day out on the farm provided me with some great photo opportunities – so many vintage pots, colourful flowers and, of course, ridiculously cute animals. Turns out country life ain’t so boring after all…

Watering Can Flower PotDuckiesVintage Flower PotDucklingCratesCountry PhotographyBlack LambFlower BasketCute SheepSpring FlowersFarm VisitPurple FlowersPretty Farmhouse

Friday Fabric Love: Sketchy Prints

Sketchy Print Fabric

1. Boxed lines from the Doe collection by Caroline Friedlander. 2. Summit Twilight by Hello Bear. 3. Script fabric by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery fabrics. 4. Town print lawn from Fabric Rehab. 5. Shubbery in Turquoise from the Yoyogi Park collection by Helen Moore for Cloud9 Fabrics. 6. Bandeau voile from the Revelry collection by Lisa Congdon for Cloud9 Fabrics. 7. Indigo hand-drawn cross fabric from Fabric Rehab. 8. Chalk Charcoal fabric from Atelier Brunette.

Ask any dressmaker what their favourite aspects of the making process are, and chances are that going shopping for fabric would feature very highly on their list (in fact, it might even grab the top spot for me). I can spend hours browsing online fabric shops, gazing longing at all the exciting new prints and dreaming of what I might make with them (hours very much well spent, if you ask me) so it seems only right for me to share some of my fabric finds here on the blog.

While big, bold, in-your-face designs certainly have a place in my wardrobe, sometimes subtler prints like these sketchy designs win the day. These pretty fabrics look like someone has taken a pen or pencil to them (in a good way) and are a great way to show your arty side (especially if, like yours truly, you’re better with a sewing machine than you are a sketchbook). My favourite is Helen Moore’s turquoise print from her Yoyogi Park collection, which is inspired by her time spent sketching the unexpected plant life she found in Tokyo city – such an unusual print in a vibrant, cheerful hue that’s perfect for summer dresses.

Summer Style: Mini Handbags

It’s pretty much impossible to carry a tiny handbag in the winter, especially if you live in the UK. You’d be a fool to leave the house without at least one umbrella (rule no.1 of being a Brit: don’t ever trust a clear winter’s day), an extra cardigan for when it gets really chilly (and it will), a spare scarf (because one is never enough) and a medicine-cabinet’s worth of cold and flu remedies to cure the whole office (as you WILL all catch at least one cold). This usually results in a bulging handbag and a very sore shoulder – no wonder rucksacks have been so popular lately.

Summer – or, if you’re British, that week-long spell of sunshine (if we’re really lucky) – is different, though. Obviously you need sunscreen, sunnies and plasters (if anyone has found sandals that don’t cut your feet to shreds, please let me know) but aside from these and the usual essentials like your phone, keys and purse, there’s very little else you need to lug around with you – which, after a long winter of carrying all the aforementioned stuff to and from work, is just glorious. And that’s not to mention the fact that small handbags just look so darn adorable too. So, without further ado, here are a few of my favourite tiny handbags. Grab ’em while you can, UK peeps, as the tiny handbag season doesn’t last long…

Cedar Street, Kade Spade

Kate Spade Cedar Street

It’s striped, it’s from Kate Spade, and it’s super cute and tiny (oh, and monochrome is so very in right now). Need I say more?

Rowa Bag, Duo Boots

 Duo Boots Handbag

Although obviously known for their gorgeous shoes and boots that come in almost every size and width fitting under the sun, Duo also has a concise yet rather lovely bag selection which includes this bright little number. It’s not even actually that tiny, so you’ll definitely be able to fit all the essentials in it (read: a chocolate bar).

Heart Crossbody, Rebecca Minkoff via Sarenza Rebecca Minkoff Heart Crossbody

I’m a sucker for anything heart-shaped, so this bag caught my eye immediately. It also comes in black, but the baby pink will go very nicely with summery pastel shades.

Jet Set Crossbody, Michael Kors via Harvey Nichols Michael Kors Jet Set Crossbody

I couldn’t very well do a handbag run-down without including Michael Kors, the blogger’s go-to brand, now, could I? I love this one’s simple shape, and its metallic hue will go with everything.

March on Instagram

March on Instagram

1. Pastry. Enough said. 2. Amazing burgers from Three Brothers Burgers. 3. My Simplicity Blogger Challenge pattern. 4. New pieces added to my jewellery collection from Bloody Mary Metal. 5. Outfit details from Bristol Fashion Week.

March was rather hectic for me so I didn’t have too much time for snapping. I moved house last week, and packing all my stuff up took about a month. I just seem to have a lot of stuff – books, shoes, sewing equipment, the list goes on. Please tell me there’s someone else out there with as much stuff as me? My boyfriend was rather smug about the fact he only had a couple of bags to pack.

I’m really looking forward to finally getting stuck into Simplicity’s blogger challenge, which is looking for star sewists from three different categories: dressmaking, vintage and beginner. I’m entering the dressmaking category and am finding it rather tricky to narrow down my ideas to just one, let alone deciding on the fabric.

I was lucky enough to nab a blogger pass to Bristol Fashion Week last week and wore my favourite Duo Boots, new DKNY bag and biker jacket from New Look, as well as a recent finished project which I’ll hopefully share soon. I really enjoyed getting inspiration from the collections on show and it was quite exciting to see MIC’s Lucy Watson from afar. Yep, she is as posh in real life.

Bristol Fashion Week with MIC’s Lucy Watson

Moving house is not a very glamorous task, what with all the packing, sorting and cleaning there is to be done, so heading to a Bristol Fashion Week show provided a welcome (and rather stylish) break from it all. On a sunny Thursday I headed over to Cribbs Causeway to catch one of the South West’s biggest fashion events. Made in Chelsea is a guilty pleasure for me, so it was quite fun to see Lucy Watson in person, if only from quite a few rows back – she presented the show along with Lorraine stylist Mark Heyes.

I soon discovered how difficult it is to take good photos at a fashion show – you have to be really quick if you want to catch the models mid-pose and not just as a blurry figure disappearing back down the runway.

Bristol Fashion WeekBristol Fashion Week CatwalkMark Heyes and Lucy Watson at Bristol Fashion WeekBFW Monochrome LooksBFW MonochromeFestival Fashion at BFW70s Boho at BFWSports LuxeBrights at Bristol Fashion WeekBright Looks at BFWGap at BFWSelfie at BFWBFW Finale

One of the standout collections from the show for me featured monochrome outfits from John Lewis. I’ve long been a fan of monochrome because I am, quite frankly, pretty lazy – you don’t have to think too much about putting a black-and-white outfit together or spend ages getting ready, and you can add a little bit of colour without deliberating over whether it goes with everything else. I particularly loved the bamboo print dress from Whistles and the Damsel in a dress checked number, but I would happily have worn all the outfits in this segment (apart from the bikini – I don’t think the world is ready for that, although the model looked absolutely amazing).

I was also a fan of the 70s boho looks, although I doubt I’ll be ditching my skinnies and donning flares any time soon – too many bad memories of my awkward 13-year-old self wearing flares with flowers stenciled up the side. Yuk. Also, remember wearing them in the rain? They’d get all heavy, bedraggled and torn up – not really a good look. It’s a shame, as they are quite flattering with heels, but they are just too much of a blast from the past for me. Wow, I feel old.

I wasn’t so sure about the bold brights from John Lewis. While I like bright colours, I wouldn’t necessarily want to wear several in one outfit – it would look way too over the top on my petite frame (although it would definitely get me noticed in a crowd, and maybe served a bit quicker at the bar). Tall ladies could totally get away with it though. The florals collection wasn’t particularly inspiring for me either, but only because florals come back every spring and summer – I don’t really think they count as a trend anymore, although I still of course think you can’t beat a floral dress in the summer (worn while enjoying a glass of Pimm’s, natch).

Gap’s collection really appealed to me, probably because it featured monochrome (again) with a cheerful pop of yellow. In fact, it encapsulated quite a few of the trends featured on the catwalk in one – monochrome, brights and denim.

Overall, it was a really entertaining show and gave a great insight into the trends in the shops at the moment. I liked that the models didn’t just strut down the catwalk all blue-steel and moody, but did a bit of dancing (and, dare I say it, smiling) too, and the soundtrack was full of bouncy summery tunes (you can find the playlist here).

If you’re in Bristol and fancy head to a show, there are still tickets available for tomorrow – best be speedy though as I doubt there will be for long.

Review: Make It Today Magazine Issue 3

As much as I love leafing through a craft magazine on a lazy afternoon, they can sometimes be a little too twee for my liking, focusing on quaint little craft projects for the home rather than more trend-led fashion sewing – don’t get me wrong, I like a nice homemade cushion as much as the next crafter, but it’s not necessarily what I want to read about when I’m looking for sewing inspiration.

When I do treat myself to a sewing magazine every now and then, it’s usually because I’ve been drawn in by the free pattern, and that was the case with Make It Today magazine, which came with not one, but three lovely patterns – I especially can’t wait to make the New Look 6231 trousers, which will be lovely for when spring (finally) arrives.

It’s worth getting it for the patterns alone, but the magazine is an enjoyable read too, with useful tips for the novice sewer, interviews with designer-makers, and ideas on how to style the free patterns. All in all, it’s just about on the right side of twee for me – although I can’t say I’d make the clasped handbag project, there were plenty of interesting sewing ideas, including a cute collar tutorial which I might have a go at. Have you read any good sewing magazines lately?

Make It Today Issue 3Craft TipsSewing Magazine ReviewMake It Today FabricCraft Magazine

If you’re a fan of craft magazines, you’ll probably like…

My review of 91 Magazine’s fantastic print issue.

My list of must-read online magazines.

 

Crafty Quotes

When I was a teen, I was an avid quote collector and used to scribble my favourite ones in a notebook – many, many, many notebooks, in fact. Of course, nowadays we have Pinterest and Instagram for these things, but back then it was all about the notebook, or, if we were really pushing the boat out, a clip-art-adorned word document. I know. So, channeling my teen self, I’ve put together a list of a few of my favourite sewing-related words of wisdom.

Mary Kurtz Sewing QuoteElizabeth Travis Johnson QuoteDavid Lynch Sewing QuoteTwiggy Sewing QuoteBeth Ditto Sewing QuoteEllen Birdseye Wheaton QuoteJeff Bezos Sewing Machine Quote