The Wardrobe Architect: Weeks 8 & 9

The Wardrobe Architect

Again I have missed a week, so I’m playing catch up a little.

I have had a reasonable excuse, though I’ve been going through a hefty HR process with work for nearly two years and had my final meeting on Monday so I have spent the last few weeks focussing on non-sewing matters (and boy, oh boy – how I have missed this!). So please cross your fingers and toes for me.

Week 8: Hair, Make-Up & Beauty


As a bit of a coincidence I’d also had my hair cut that weekend, into a bob. I am currently in the process of growing out the red hair I’ve had for years now, mainly due to the fact that there’s a whole rainbow of colours out there and I have had a hankering to dye my hair royal blue for some time. Even through my hair grows very quickly this has still become a pain in the proverbial.

Bobbed hair

At the moment I’m styling out the two tone and covering my greys with a close to natural brown which eventually washes out and the red shows through (as a side note my husband constantly tells me to grow out the grey, I think he thinks I’ve got some kid of awesome Rouge streak going on, when in fact I’ve been salt and pepper since I was 22).


So off went a big chunk and here I am with a short bob and a side swept fringe, because I like to sport a beehive much of the time and I also like to pin curl it if I was a more glam style for an evening out.

Pin curls

I don’t know if it’s a mix of getting that little but older and not wanting to be all Susan Kennedy (neighbour’s fans from the 80s will know what I’m taking about) but long hair is not for me any longer. I had years of the cyclical grow it long, get frustrated, cut it short, wish I hadn’t, grow it long etc. I am happily settled with a bob now and since losing weight I think it suits me much more.

Make Up

I’m an everyday make up gal. On a rare Sunday I’ll be make-up free “to give my skin a break” or more like “I know I’m not leaving the house and all I want to do is slob about in my pjs, watch films and eat popcorn and chocolate” also referred to as PMT.

My weekday workface:

foundation, concealer, powder, blusher, eyebrow mascara, mascara.

Weekend day:

the same as the above with a winged/cat eye eyeliner going on.

Going out/special occasion:

the above plus eye-shadow, highlighting powder on the cheekbones and brow bones, lipstick (of course ensuring the rules of eyes or lips are already in place).

Being an English Rose I have found it very difficult to find a foundation that’s perfect for me, but after years of finding things too dark I found Maybelline 24H Super Stay in Light Beige and it made me so ridiculously happy I could have cried, and we have been firm friends ever since. I stick with No7 translucent pressed power and No7 classic concealer (which they have stopped doing now, so I’m going to have to so in store and do their match made thing, has anyone done this?).

As far as colours go with eye-shadow, I love them ALL. Nothing puts me off and I’ll try anything, I particularly like deep red and purple shades at the moment.  With lipstick I’m not so adventurous, I still with reds usually but recently my make-up artist friend did me up for a shoot and she put an orangey tone on my lips and I loved it so I am trying to think outside the box a little.


I have become a Lush addict. I don’t have much beauty stuff that isn’t from Lush.


I usually have on the go in a month:

  • Soap for my body and face (I alternate which one I use each time but I love Honey I Washed the Kids)
  • Buffy bar and a sugar scrub
  • A bath bomb and a bubble bar
  • A couple of toner tabs
  • A fresh face mask
  • Body Lotion (Sympathy for the Skin currently – smells like banana custard)

The reason I decided to buy most of my beauty products from Lush is because I agree with their values and I have been really off put by rubbing anything massively chemically into my skin (and now approaching my mid-30s I really think it’s important to nourish it as much as possible with goodness). They may be a little more expensive than other products out there but I really do think you’re paying for quality.

While my regime in the morning is quick (shower, soap, body lotion) once a week I’ll run a hot bath add a bomb or bubble bar, whack a face mask on and stick some sci-fi on the laptop to watch while I relax. I think it’s very important to have a little time for yourself, especially if, like me, you’re super busy at work and can’t sit still when you’re at home.

Week 9: The Capsule Wardrobe

Can I make all of the things? Stick with all of the silhouettes I created in earlier weeks?

I have a plan with sewing for Vegas where am promising myself that I will make things that can be mixed and matched, especially for day wear. Does this count as a holiday capsule wardrobe?

Maybe I can’t focus on anything past Vegas at the moment (which I’m not complaining about at all, honest!).

Taking into consideration my previous silhouettes, I think setting myself goals on a few core items to make (when I get back from Vegas) might be the best idea, so on that note:

  • A line skirts; with maybe a large box pleat at the front on one
  • Shirts; I really like how my green shirt turned out and I can make it with or without the sleeves which would be perfect for all season wear
  • Pair of black trousers
  • Tailored jackets
  • A couple of knee length dresses
  • I may even get the knitting machine out and make a couple of jumpers or cardigans that I can mix or match.

I think the colour issue will be interesting as I tend to go for strong block colours, so we’ll see where this leads, I must remember to take the mix and match into consideration and not get carried away! I am certainly going to spend some time riffling through my pattern boxes this weekend and seeing what I can dig up that fits in.

Vintage Lingerie: Historical Patterns and Techniques

When I saw this book on Amazon I knew I had to get it. I had a quick scan through the reviews online and decided to purchase.

I adore vintage styled lingerie (total Kiss Me Deadly addict) but it doesn’t come in cheap. If you want quality, you’re most certainly going pay for it.

When it landed through the letterbox with a comforting thud I tumbled downstairs, pulled apart the packaging and gazed and the beautiful front cover.

VL Front Page

I was aware of the author, Jill Salen, as my cousin’s (then) girlfriend (now wife) had lent me her fabulous book on corsets a few years ago when I was first foraying into making my own burlesque costumes. While the book was amazing, the thought of making a corset was very daunting and I loved reading through but it was packed up and shipped back to the lovely Sarah (thank you!).

But, I digress….back to Vintage Lingerie: Historical Patterns and Techniques.

I am more than happy with its stylistics. The book is laid out in an easy to read way, spaced out generously (I find books that are “too busy” very confusing due to my dyslexia) and sleek and stylish. It covers 30 pieces from 1890 to 1970 and is set up for each piece as follows:

  • The first page devoted to a beautiful piece of vintage lingerie, photographed beautifully and simply.
  • The following page with a description of the year or era, detailing on the fabric, techniques, measurements and embellishments used.
  • Following this is the scaled down pattern, each reproduced on graph paper for ease of scaling up separately.

While this book as an absolutely beautiful addition to my collection I really should say that it is definitely not aimed at beginners.

There are few (if any) instructions for actually making the garments but it really doesn’t feel daunting to me to consider starting to reproduce any of these items, after all using the internet to find clarity on certain sewing techniques is old hat at this point for me!

VL Page 2

There are two comprehensive projects contained in the back on this book, with full detailing and step by step instructions:

  • A black brassiere (1930s)
  • A petticoat (1905)

Neither of these grabbed me as items I would really like to crack on with; there were far more gorgeous offerings in the previous pages (corselette or the Dior style longline bra for instance) but I am sure that is just a matter of personal taste.

At the back of the book is a handy chapter about embellishing and finishing techniques such as scalloping, making button loops, fastenings etc.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for good a resource of vintage lingerie. I have been looking for something like this for a while now and everything else seemed to fall short of the mark.

I can’t wait to get cracking with my first project from this, although I will definitely be making a toile, sewing in a cheap fabric and then making the final in something a little more luxurious!

VL Page 1

Oh and I am very tempted to purchase Jill Salen’s next book Vintage Swimwear Patterns: Historical Patterns and Techniques, but that’s for another time when my purse is a little fatter I think!

Sewing for Vegas!

Well I had a little good fortune a couple of weeks back (thanks to a big PPI refund) leading the very excited announcement that:

*drumroll please*


That’s right! In June I will be going to Vegas to attend the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, with a few of my burlesque pals. Not only will I be out there surrounded by super amazing talented folk, some of the best showgirls and guys in the business, some of the legends from the old days and everyone will be super sparkly, I will also be there for MY BIRTHDAY.

For anyone who is used to jetting off to the States or anywhere further than a field in England for their holidays, you probably aren’t as excited as me, but as I have haven’t been abroad for a holiday since we spent 3 weeks in Vietnam in 2010 as my husband is studying full time, this is all kinds of awesome.

Now, foolishly or not, I have decided that most of the things I take away with me will be home made. I really can’t afford to go away and spend a tonne of cash on new threads for the trip. I would like to look as lovely as possible though so for the next few months I’ll be Sewing for Vegas.

Sew Retro

 Now I did have a little money left over (once we’d bought and insured a second hand car – yippee  – we are mobile again!). So I bought a little equipment (self-healing cutting board rotary cutter plus a few other little bits) and enrolled in a couple of Craftsy courses, one of them being the Gertie Sew Retro class.

Sew Retro

I’ve picked a lovely cerise medium weight cotton, with a contrasting pale blue for the trimmings. This will be my birthday evening out dress.

Has anyone else taken this class? Any tips?

I’ve also bought a few metres of stretch denim so I can make the Butterick B5895 Capris, in full length and have a go at making them into shorts. Hopefully I’ll have enough left over to make a pencil skirt too.

I’m planning on making a start this week, progress to follow!

Anyone else got any holiday plans yet?

Simplicity 3877: All Sewn Up (The Christmas Edition)

I’ve had this gorgeous pattern since July and have been looking for the perfect excuse to make it and what better than a Christmas party at work? The scene is set, there will be a brass quintet and nibbles and drinks in the Atrium of our building, now all I need to do is make an entrance in something very festive.

Simplicity 3877

I bought this gorgeous fabric by for the skirt part and some matching Christmas tree green for the bodice and got to cutting and sewing.

Christmas dress fabric
Now, I didn’t really give myself the easiest time when I was making this. In between visiting family, a weekend away. tying up my last 6 modelling appearances (I have officially now finished – see me below as a Christmas tree), making and wrapping gift, buying and decorating the tress, icing two Christmas cakes,  and a million more things……..I had about three nights to do this and finished up the last night half cut after a Prof took me and the team for dinner.
Chrostmas tree - wayland thor badger dr sketchy birmingham

Thanks to A J Pilkington of Manicks Productions & Dr Sketchy Birmingham for this pic!

I did (again) struggle with the sleeves – which were, again, meant to be set in…but it seems we do not get on very well, so I did my best, tried not to cry (after sewing a sleeve in inside out and having to get the trust seam ripper out again) and took a deep breath. They didn’t turn out too badly BUT I have made it an aim for 2014 to master set in sleeves!

christmas dress

The light isn’t great in this pic so I’ve added the one below as I think it gives a better impression (and it was too cold to be outside!)

Christmas dress

My dress was complete. So what else but make a reindeer decoration to pin to your head? Add to this some sparkly shoes, festive nails, a lovely Narnia based lamppost necklace and a lot of glitter and I was the most dressed up person at the office Christmas do, but then again when else can you get away with wearing a sparkly reindeer on your head?

Christmas nails

Narnia necklace

So on that note; I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, thank you so much for following my blog and reading my posts over the last six months or so and have a wonderful Christmas! I’ll be back soon (unless I cannot reach the laptop from my eggnog and chocolate coma) xx

Pattern Collection Update

A few weeks ago my friend Alison contacted me on facebook to say she had some old 60s patterns, mostly 34 bust and would  like them? Of course I jumped at the chance thinking I’d be getting about five or six but I was bowled over to receive over 50 vintage patterns form different decades.

There are some amazing patterns in there, vintage Vogue Paris patterns designed by Christian Dior and Nina Ricci for a start. I was so thrilled and would like to say a massive thanks to Alison for her generosity, I can only say that I will be sewing away and have some results for you soon (even if that means going to Tesco in full evening dress)

I’ve added them to My Vintage Patterns set on flickr and below are some of the ones I can’t wait to get sewing, I should say though, there are so many you should go and have a nosey…I couldn’t list them all on here, you’d be scrolling forever!
McCalls 6569

McCalls 7052

Vouge 5316

Vouge Paris 1313 Nina Ricci
Vouge Paris 1041 Christian Dior

Butterick B5895: Test Capris

So thought I’d give these bad boys a bash  yesterday. I had some red lightweight stretch cotton in my stash so made them up with that. A success overall I think (even though I sewed the legs together int he wrong place and the old seam ripper came out).

I made note of what others had said and sewed them up in a size 6 after looking on the pattern at the ease really glad I did that, as I’ve only sewing from vintage patterns I just expect them to be the size they say on the pattern cover, bit of a lesson learnt there…

I don’t think they’re decent enough to wear out (i.e. skin tight and rather see through!) but it’s given me a good sense of what to do next time, I just have to have some spare cash to get some decent material in.

Butterick B5895


and the back....really wasn't joking about them being skin tight...! #sewing

and in other news I bought some more vintage patterns…….(slapped wrist)

Simplicity 4980Simplicity 4697