Saturday, 29 January 2011

I Married a Psychedelic Vampire

Mr. Needles and I have much in common, but our tastes in films often differs. I like musicals and wise-cracking dames, as well as the work of Will Ferrel and Steve Carrel (Elf and 40 Year Old Virgin are works of genius!) Where as Mr. Needles has the attention span of an over excited kitten, so he likes Hammer movies and ...... well, that's about it.

As we have a few events coming up in February - his birthday, our wedding anniversary, and of course, Valentines Day - I've decided to make something for him, as he complains all the time that I don't make enough for him. But what? I don't have time to do any serious tailoring, and I have to be able to make it without him noticing (not hard - I made my wedding dress practically under his nose and he didn't notice). Maybe this - he'd love the devil cape:

Maybe these fabulous shirts:

Or these swinging trousers:

He might like ethnic:

None of these are really going to work, as they all appear to be sized to fit teenagers - 36" chest! That would fit me! So I'm going to look to his film taste for inspiration. He particularly loves swinging London horror movies, like 'Dracula A.D. 1972' - full of dolly birds, kinky boots, pop groups, sports cars, and a particularly suave young gent called Johhny Alucard (see what he did with his surname?), who raises the Prince of Darkeness from his lair to go rampaging across Chelsea.

Thanks to for the images
I think a shirt will be the most fitting (and easiest!) item to make. But not just any old shirt - to give it that swinging feel, I'm going to copy one of his favourite shirts:

Detail of Ben Sherman collar

This is a Ben Sherman shirt which he wore to our wedding. The high collar stand gives it a really 60's/70's feel, but it's still quite wearable without looking 'Austin Powers'. As he had it tailored to fit perfectly, I'll make a sneaky paper pattern of it so it comes out just right.

(For those of you who might not know, Ben Sherman is/was a brand of shirt popularised in the 1960's and 70's, and beloved of Mods and Skins ever since. It was a British interpretation of calssic American Ivy League styles, hence the button down collars and the distionctive button at the back of the collar) 

But what about the fabric? I trawled Ridley Rd market, and ended up at my usual Dalston Mill Fabrics , where I found this beauty:

It's a wool mix twill, with some really rich purples and reds.

So all I need now is for Mr. Needles to look the other way, and I'll make a start!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Cute Sewing Jewellery

I've had my eye on this charm for a while now, and finally decided to splash out and get it. Isn't it brilliant! Despite the fact that it's by Juicy Couture , who I will never forgive for inflicting those velour tracksuits on us, I can't help but love it. It's full of excellent details - a little spool of cotton, a wheel that actually turns, even a little extension cord at the back.

 I've put it on a gold chain from Argos (classy!) and will wear it with pride!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Thanks for the Award

When I started this blog, I was a bit nervous of putting my ideas and work out there in the blogosphere - I didn't know if anyone would follow me, if anyone would like my work, and so on. For these reasons, I put off starting one for ages. Now I wish I'd started one a LONG time ago, because it's been so much fun, and it's been great to make contact with so many interesting, creative people. So, thanks to the lovely Wendy at The Butterfly Balcony for this award, and visit her blog for excellent craft and knitting ideas.

I'm going to pass this on to Sue at Sew Misunderstood because I always look forward to her posts about sewing, and I love her attitude - she once rocked so hard she melted her dress!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

It's All About the Turban

  I know I've been away for a while, but spare a thought for those of us who work in retail - not only have I been suffering from the same flu/virus that's been going around, but when everyone else is taking it easy at home, eating fist's of Quality Street, and complaining how rubbish this year's telly is, us retail drones are working until 9.00 every night, helping hysterical people find that perfect gift, and looking forward to the ONE DAY OFF (YES! WE ONLY HAD CHRISTMAS DAY OFF THIS YEAR!!!) which we then spend so exhausted we can hardly enjoy all the food, booze and sweets.

Anyway, rant over - wishing you all a prosperous 2011......

It's become a tradition of mine to make myself a new dress every Christmas, which I
wear to death over the holiday period - work Christmas party, New Years Eve, and so on. I was a bit stumped this year, as I usually opt for something a bit 40's/50's, but I was fancying something a bit different. I was inspired after reading blogs like Miss Peelpants, and seeing what a hash House of Fraser made of the re-launch of Biba (it really is awful......) to go for something a bit 70's, albeit by way of the 30's. You could say I was also inspired by some of the general discussions out there in blog-land about people misguidedly wishing they had been born in previous decades (Snoodlebug's is particularly good). And though I absolutely agree that we, with our modern sensibilities, would never get on in the past (especially as women), I think it's ok to wish to visit an era of the past you lived through, but at a different age.

And so, I've been re-visiting the 70's, because I was a baby for most of it and would have loved to have been old enough to enjoy it to it's fullest. Even though it seems to have been grim at times, there was also brilliant stuff - Biba, Glam rock, Punk, Roxy Music, Disco, Bowie, and ...... turbans! I remember so much of it swirling around in the background of my childhood, like being really bored while my mum shopped for cork wedges, or visiting Biba in 1974 (when I was 3) and playing in the children's department. For most of my teens, I wrote off everything in the early 70's as hippy non-sense - if it wasn't rock 'n roll or punk, it didn't count! But the more I see of that era, the more I love the glamour and can see how inspiring this was to later trendsetters.
The Pointer Sisters
I love the 1970's version of the 30's and 40's. Somehow it made sense - you could mix-up space-age platforms and Joan Crawford style suits, like the Pointer Sisters did, and look totally brilliant! And one thing that seems to be really prevalent in that era is head wear, especially turbans.

So in the spirit of Biba, and as a tribute to my Mum, who loves this era, I decided to make a Christmas dress which would involve a turban. First, the pattern:

I've used the bodice part of this one before, and really liked the fit. There doesn't seem to be any date on the packet, but it looks like it could be from the correct era, with the puffed sleeves, and the slightly 30's cut of the skirt. I'll make the shorter version, but probably with a slightly longer skirt, just past the knee. I love Butterick's efforts at being 'multicultural' by having a black model with a small afro!

Next, the Fabric:

 I found this at Dalston Mill Fabrics, for about £7.00 per metre. It's a multi-coloured cotton with black velvet flocking on top, then sprinkled with rainbow glitter. I think it has the right combination of vampy 30's, with the glitter providing a smattering of 70's disco feel.

Next, I sew like a madwoman to create this:

Got it done just in time to show off at my annual work Christmas party:

 That's my sister on the right - we both work at the same high falutin' department store in London. The dress was fairly straightforward to make, but had some pretty details, like the puff sleeves and the button detail on the cuff:

Cuff detail
I also liked the inclusion of the little lining inside the sleeve, that made sure it stayed fully puffed all night:

Inner sleeve lining

I lined it with a lilac polyester, as well as finishing the hem with it.

And now for the turban:

Close up of Turban
I took a rectangle of fabric, sewed it in half, then gathered it up the back and folded it down at the front. Then finished it with a thin strip of the same fabric. And just to give it that little something extra, I pinned my Mum's Biba brooch to the front (I think she's forgotten I have it!)

I really enjoyed wearing this outfit, and it's even inspired me to go against my own rule of never making New Year resolutions- after all, rules are made to be broken!

Nicole Needles' New Year's Resolution for 2011:

Wear turbans whenever possible!