Tag Archives: dresses

A Bit of a Romantic

I’m a sucker for white linen. Can’t go a summer without a new white linen frock. There’s something utterly lovely about that first day, that high summer heat which permits its wearing. I’ve stopped caring too that it might be a bit transparent.

This linen came from the Cloth House, Berwick Street (it’s very nice quality).

I blame the Timotei advert circa 1980.











Filed under dressmaking, fashion, sewing

New Frockage

Thought I’d better get some frock time in for myself before the big push for Christmas and the galloping rush of client frockage takes over (not to mention the small matter of a couple of armchairs to cover…).

The petrol blue wool has a smidgin of lycra and hangs beautifully. I had some yellow ochre silk lining to hand which flashes colour like the wings of a bird. And  shall be making the grey dress again and again and again….inky blue fine wool crepe next….


Filed under dressmaking, sewing

Cake and Being Underwhelmed

It’s the Jubilee weekend and I’ve made cake. Lemon sponge, blackcurrant jam, lemon buttercream. I’m feeling patriotic and a little emotional (the Queen does indeed look like my Great Aunt Jane, long dead but still thought-of, often).


So, in pursuit of things British and glorious I went to see the exhibition,  ‘Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950’ at the Victoria and Albert. I was looking forward to seeing the newly opened costume gallery and was expecting great things from it and I feel underwhelmed: I think that an opportunity for something jaw-droppingly good has been missed. The gallery is still squashed into a corner. Still, I feel, a bit of an afterthought, a bit of an embarrassment.

Fashion. Decried as frivolous and not for the serious-minded yet of great economic importance: designers, factory owners, dyers, embroiderers, academics, pattern cutters, journalists, textile designers, milliners, shop workers, machinists, photographers, advertisers, publishers….I think you get the message. It’s a big employer. And London, quirky though it might be in terms of fashion identity, is a major player in the fashion world and I think it, or rather we, could expect a little more pomp from our national collection.

The exhibition dresses from 2000 demonstrate that we have considerable design talent but I’d like to have seen more of it: 20 or so exhibits of recent work was just not enough and certainly only one McQueen and one Galliano was a paltry offering. I have the much coveted exhibition catalogue of the Alexander McQueen exhibition ‘Savage Beauty’ held at the Metropolitan Museum in New York last year. It alone gives me goose bumps, let alone seeing such a vast collection of work. That exhibition was huge, in scale and importance, as though the curators were utterly assured of the seriousness and influence of the fashion industry.

I can’t help but compare….

(Thanks to the Hub for the photograph of the cake…he’s got a good eye…)




Filed under oddbods

Little Black Dress

I’ve done it. The teenage thing. Party on Saturday…no frock (well, none that I want to wear)…so make one….

I’ve burned the midnight oil, neglected the children, said ‘sod it’ to the domestics and made a dress. As far as I can see, the only effect has been slightly goggle-eyed children but they’ve been fed and I’ve managed a few words of parental guidance during the past 48 hours. It feels a little like those 7 day dancing competitions in the ’40s….an endurance test with scant sleep and hurting bits.

Anyhow, it’s an LBD of which no woman can have too many. Just the slightest difference in neckline or length or fit can be enough to be either perfection or disaster for a particular event. It’s burlesque for me this weekend and although this dress looks formal, it’s a snug fit, reveals just enough shoulder and plummets at the back. Just need fishnet stockings and a red lippy….

The quality of the photographs is a bit suspect but it’s dusk and there are heavy purple skies and that odd yellow light that you get in a storm.

I’m looking forward to wearing this: even the Boy said that I looked ‘dashing’. Perhaps not the adjective I’d’ve chosen but better than a grunt and a fine word indeed for an 8 year old.




Filed under dressmaking, oddbods


I’m having trouble accessing technology. The children hog it: one designing tree houses and the other blasting his way out of Afghanistan. They’ve disappeared into the garden and I’m tempted to lock the door ’til I’ve finished. It’s hard to work while the children are on holiday. Their stuff breeds like triffids: there’s no floor space left thanks to lego and the table’s full of airfix and oil paints.

I’ve just finished an embroidery……I’m quite pleased with it….

Thought I’d post the old ones while I’m at it…….

This one’s a bit scruffy round the edges but I think it’s my favourite. Just need to get it framed.

I just need to get on with some proper work too….I’ve two bridesmaids’ dresses to make, a client waiting for the outrageous pink feathers and I quite fancy a new frock myself….

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Filed under embroidery, oddbods


I’ve spent the day measuring and pinning boxpleats, making those tiny adjustments for waist and hip so that they fit perfectly. I’ve pinned and unpinned and eased and widened and narrowed til my eyes hurt but I think we’re there! I’m recycling a beautiful piece of Liberty silk which has already had one incarnation as a full, loose pleated skirt. The print is of boats and trees and water and is dove grey, a mustardy sort of yellow, black and blue. It’s been worn all over London, swishing north to Primrose Hill and south to Greenwich Park. It’s been boating in Regent’s Park and out to dinner in Soho but has been looking its age and almost made it to the drawer where things go before they get thrown away. It’s too beautiful for that so it’s been unpicked and washed and pressed and is on its way to loveliness again.

It’s done! The pleats are sewn down to about 8cm below waist and then left to hang naturally. It fits perfectly and swirls out fabulously. There is something about wearing full skirts that makes one feel grown up and womanly. They are extravagant in their fullness, they emphasise the sway of your hips and make your waist appear small. Their shape is that that all little girls draw and most grown up women avoid. As a child I played with my mother’s dresses from the 1950s and loved them and now regret bitterly her generosity in giving them to me. I climbed trees in them and made mud pies in them and left them in the garden after a hard day’s play. They were wonderful dresses with nipped in waists, minutely pleated bodices and acres of skirt. Day dresses made of cotton, one printed with leaves in all shades of green, and evening dresses in shell pink satin and deep, almost black, blue velvet. She must have been in her early 20s when she wore these dresses, so clearly inspired by Dior’s ‘New Look’ while I, in my 20s, clumped around in Dr Martens and hobble skirts, so long and tight that I could hardly move.

Full skirts make me smile a lot and is there anything nicer on a warm day than to feel silk rippling against bare legs?

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Filed under oddbods, sewing