27 February 2010

Socks with shoes, how do you do?

Quick thought - socks with shoes. I love this look, but don't feel confident I could pull it off. Do any of you sport this combo? Or have you seen any other images of stylish ladies wearing them? What are the rules to avoid looking like a schoolgirl? 

Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2010

[Soundtrack: 'What Is It That Tastes Like Gravy' by Tampa Red / Smelltrack: mint tea]

25 February 2010

Awards season

Yay! I'm honoured to have been awarded the Kreativ Blogger award by four very talented and lovely ladies: Susannah at Cargo Cult Craft, Debi at My Happy Sewing Place, Rachel at Boo Dog and Me and Mena at The Sew Weekly. Hurrah! And huzzah!

The recipient of the award must list seven facts about themselves that readers may not know and nominate seven other bloggers to receive the award.

I'm not sure that this will be as illuminating as revelations of Rachel's doctorate in Criminology, Susannah's zombie past, Mena's mastery of the blogosphere and Debi's penchant for playing badminton in Scottish chapels - but here goes. Me me me me meeeeeeeee:

1. My real name is Matilda. According to my mum, I was named after the Scott Walker song 'Mathilde' (translated from the Jacques Brel original), a nightmarish ballad of a "wretched" temptress. I'm not sure how I feel about this.

"On your knees and pray for me!"

2. I am addicted to coffee, pasta with tomato sauce and trailers.apple.com.

3. I am very pedantic about grammar and punctuation. Grocers' apostrophes really get my goat!

4. I am in a constant state of haircut envy. Thus my hair is always either growing out or about to be cut.

5. I have a masters degree in film history. My studies focused on the history of media technologies from the magic lantern onwards, melodrama, the avant garde, and found footage film.

6. I am terrible at any kind of sporting activity. I mean, just dreadful.

7. I am very small.

And now for my seven awardees, in no particular order. I know that this is going to sound like I'm just being diplomatic, but honestly, if I hadn't been nominated by Susannah, Debi, Rachel and Mena, all four of them would have been in this list as I think they're fantastic - I'm not just saying that!

1. Peter at Male Pattern Boldness - man sewer extraordinaire (with a little help from his gorgeous identical cousin Cathy), admiring his jumpsuits never fails to put a smile on my face over breakfast

2. Zoe at 'So Zo...' - a fellow Brit who inspired me to make my Wardrobe Refashion pledge, currently piloting "Stash Bustin'" fabric swap

3. frk.bustad - I have no idea what this lady's real name is - her blog is mainly in Norwegian - but who cares when she makes flamingo print shirts!

4. Gertie - no explanation needed (I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a mega girl crush on Gertie)

5. Casey - again, 'nuff said, a true icon

6. Jessica at The Cat's Pajamas - I'm not sure if she sews, but she is a very creative thrifter with an enviable wardrobe and a shared interest in stereoscopes, gramophones etc

7. Cecili at Sewing and So On - this lady makes seriously cute shirt dresses and necklaces.

Keep up the good work!

[Soundtrack: 'Colleen' by Joanna Newsom / Smelltrack: pasta with tomato sauce, of course]

22 February 2010

Wardrobe Refashion pledge

I, Tilly, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 6 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract.

Oh yes, readers, I have taken the Wardrobe Refashion pledge.

To some people, 6 months may not sound like a long time to abstain from shopping, but for me it's tantamount to becoming a nun. This is because a) I love clothes, b) I work near Oxford Circus (walking through Topshop is the short cut to the office), and c) I have zero will power.

But I've been finding increasingly that shopping makes me feel nauseous. I certainly don't think that taking an interest in clothes and fashion is shallow, but I do sometimes feel ashamed that the "Buy it now or regret it later!" sign screaming at me over the odds and sods section of Topshop can send me into a panic. And into my overdraft.

Moreover, I have no idea of the origins of and people and processes involved in making the piece of clothing which sits against my skin, and while I wouldn't call myself a Marxist (most of the time), you have to admit that the fact that we take the alienation of the production process for granted is a bit, like, weird dude.

Finally, since taking up sewing, nothing in the shops has seemed quite right. A lovely design, perhaps, but it'd look nicer in yellow, say (what doesn't?). A nice fabric, but lacking a peter pan collar (of course). When I pick something up in a shop, all I can think is that I could make it better. Not better made, you understand, but I can choose the design, fabric and embellishments to make something perfect. And that gives me a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling.

I've made three items of clothing so far and it's such a joy to see them hanging on my clothes rail. I'm looking forward to homemade clothing taking over my wardrobe...

You can find out more and sign up to Wardrobe Refashion here.

[Soundtrack: 'Dogs Got a Bone' by The Beta Band / Smelltrack: roast dinner - yes on a Monday night! Just one of the perks of having a house husband]

17 February 2010

Sencha blouse

Et voila!

Admire my buttons!

The instructions called for pattern weights - I improvised 

I learnt catchstitch!

Check out the accuracy of that tuck!

Both the pattern (from Colette Patterns) and the fabric (from Saints and Pinners) were a joy to work with

All it needs now is one last press...

14 February 2010

This week's inspiration

[Or, I haven't quite finished sewing so the blouse pictures are for next time]

The image above is from a copy of 'Woman's Journal' from 1927, which my boyfriend's mother dug out the attic for me. It features hundreds of pages of gorgeous illustrations which will no doubt provide fodder for this blog for months to come.

The opening sequence from Cover Girl, posted by Anna Neah, left me dumbstruck - I can't believe I haven't seen this movie!

I got lost in the Movie Title Stills Collection - only click on this link if you have nothing to do for the rest of the day! The film noir titles are particularly wonderful.

And this just in! Non Plus One, a nouvelle vague-inspired promo for Opening Ceremony's new collection, shared by Anja over at Clever Nettle. I'll never get bored of Breton tops. Ooh and there's a very quick flash of cutester Tennessee Thomas.

That's all for now, I'm going to get back to that blouse...

10 February 2010

Women be shopping...

[Or, Ebay's addictive, isn't it?]

Here they are, my first vintage pattern purchases! Aren't they divine? I tried to pick some simple ones to begin with, without too many intricate details. I couldn't be contented with one though, I had to buy three, even though I have no idea about the specificities of using a vintage pattern and I'm not even sure these are the right size for me (Casey's vintage pattern primer will be my bedtime reading tonight). As the blogosphere is my witness, I shall not buy another vintage pattern until I've successfully completed at least one project! 

Advance 9050 (undated - does anyone know how to find out a pattern date?)

Simplicity 4255 (1953)

Simplicity 1011 (1954)

Hmm... which one should I make first...? (I know I should probably start with the blouse, but Audrey at the bottom is screaming out to me!)

[Soundtrack: 'Ballade de Melody Nelson', Serge Gainsbourg / Smelltrack: mint tea]

7 February 2010

It's been a long, a long time coming

[Or, dress no.2]

It seems like many moons ago that I started working on this little blighter, the second attempt at pattern no.1, which I started out believing was going to be a breeze to work on. (I don't know how Mena at The Sew Weekly does it.)

Admittedly I have been away so haven't spent that many physical hours on it - maybe just emotional hours - but I did encounter a number of hiccups:

1) a failed attempt to make the skirt more fitted
2) puckering seam finishes
3) lack of machine speed control (I've heard it's like driving a car, but I never got my licence)
4) lots of alterations needed at back and sides
5) ripped fabric.

Things I have learnt:

1) I love my stitch ripper
2) beginners shouldn't buy thin cotton
3) always sew in slippers
4) I should start saving for a dress form
5) no one need see the inside!

The dress does lack a certain je ne sais quoi. I can't decide what to add to the front to make it more snazzy. A bow? Pleating? Peter pan collar? Fabric-covered buttons? Ruffle? Key hole cut out? Or a recycled lacy panel inspired by Whipstitch

What do you think I should do? Thoughts, please!

[This post was written to a soundtrack of A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke and a smelltrack of sweet chilli sauce]

5 February 2010

In the Spring of 1938 we shall lunch in printed satin and silver fox

[Or, Fashion hints courtesy of the movies - no.2]

I've been a busy bee at work and away at the Rotterdam Film Festival (which was bliss) so have almost forgotten how to sew. I've declared Saturday sew-in day though, so hopefully I'll have some pics of dress no. 2 soon.

In the meantime, here's a clip from a film about Norman Hartnell's Spring 1938 collection for your delectation. I particularly like the outfits called 'Cinema' (bien sûr) and the bizarrely named 'Paddock' (or did I mishear that?!). It has an air of poignancy as only a year later such superficial concerns as the latest fashions will seem frivolous and decadent. As Susannah of Cargo Cult Craft fame explains in her wonderful blog, clothes rationing began suddenly in June 1941 - it must have come as quite a shock to the ladies who would have bought clothes like these...

You can find this film and more from the BFI National Archive on the BFI's YouTube channel .

[This post was written to a soundtrack of 'Moped Eyes' by Super Furry Animals and a smelltrack of fresh coffee]