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! 


  1. that dress is so beautiful love the pattern and colors..I been wanting to buy a turban so sophisticated and elegant.


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