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  1. pink and turquoise vintage hibiscus dress

    One of the difficulties of dressmaking is that you can't try things on until after you've made them... and even with the most careful of measurements, sometimes you'll make a dress that doesn't fit or doesn't suit you, or you just don't find yourself wearing as often as you thought you would. 

    vintage reproduction biscuit print dress

    For me this turns out to be the case with the dresses I've been making from vintage sewing patterms. I was SO EXCITED when I discovered "half size" patterns. Designed for the "mature figure", they have a lower bust point and a larger waist measurement than their corresponding "ordinary" sizes, so those of us who aren't disposed to go the whole hog with 1950s-style underwear can actually stand some chance of fitting into these lovely dresses! 

    (If you do want to go the whole hog, by the way, I can wholeheartedly recommend Kiss Me Deadly. I absolutely love every single piece I've bought... even though the fibromyalgia means that I often can't wear any of it.) 

    vintage reproduction psychedelic yellow dress

    Sadly, the simple fact that I work from home and very rarely leave the house on what might be considered dress-wearing occasions, means that these little lovelies simply aren't being worn.

    So... rather than leaving these dresses languishing at the back of my wardrobe, I've decided to set up a "sample sale" department so that you can grab them at a bargain price! Of course this does mean that you need to be roughly the same size as me - which is a modern UK 14-16, or a late-1950s 18½.  

    vintage reproduction landscape print dress

    The sample sale isn't going to just be full of dresses I've made for myself and then decided to re-home. It will also include any dressmaking experiments that I happen to conduct, which I might then decide not to add to the current range. This gives me the freedom not to worry about drafting a design in eighteen different sizes before I've even started! I can just make one, wear it, test it out, and then decide whether or not it's going to be a keeper. 

    I get to play, and you get the opportunity to pick up a bargain! 

  2. white_summer_blouse

    I decided to take advantage of a day to myself over the Bank Holiday to indulge in a bit of Selfish Sewing - in this case a lightweight summer blouse. I get sunburnt very easily (many years of medications have left my skin photosensitive, plus I'm allergic to every type of sunscreen that I've ever tried), so I need something with long sleeves that I can pop on when the sun comes out which isn't going to leave me boiling hot! 

    white_summer_blouse_button

    Enter this blouse, which I have to say is made from the most frustrating fabric that I've worked with in a very long time! It's been lurking in the stash since before I made the decision to use only organic and recycled fabrics. It's a white spotted cotton lawn, with a cream floral print over the top. What I didn't realise when I bought it was that the floral print is actually some kind of plastic. So the cotton lawn needs a fine needle and a nice hot iron... but the plasticky print needs a heavier needle and a cool iron. Nightmare. Usually I'm an advocate of ironing your clothes to keep them looking lovely. Sadly I'm just going to have to wear this one crinkly, because even inside out and with a pressing cloth, the fabric has left gunk all over my iron. Grrrr. 

    white_summer_blouse_outfit

    Anyway! On a cheerier note, I've been wearing it for a few hours now, and it's really soft and comfortable. I particularly like the details - the back fastens with an elastic loop and a vintage flower button, and the sleeves are trimmed with vintage Austrian lace. 

    Speaking of the sleeves... I can see some of you cringing at them from here, but I have to confess that I absolutely love a massive puffy sleeve. The pattern for the top is New Look 6471, view D, with the front lengthened to match the back. The sleeves I copied from Simplicity 5645, a pattern from 1982, as I didn't think the original ones were enormous enough! The lace trim and the elastic cuffs were made up as I went along. The elastic is designed to be loose at the wrists, but just tight enough to stay put when the sleeves are pushed up to the elbows. 

    Apparently the weather's going to stay warm and sunny for the next few days, so I should have plenty of opportunity to give this top a good wear and see whether it does its job!

  3. eternal magpie happy customers - Liz

    Well, that was quick - I only took this dress to the Post Office yesterday! 

    Liz took advantage of this week's Flash Sale (still happening, if you fancy a bargain!) to snap up this Ghastlies print dress - and doesn't it look great? 

    eternal magpie happy customers - Liz

    I have to confess that I was ~this close~ to keeping it for myself... it's my size, and the print makes me laugh every time I look at the details of all the characters. I don't usually sell character prints, but this fabric was lingering in the depths of the stash, and wasn't quite enough to make the original shirt dress that I'd had in mind.

    I can't be too sad about not getting to keep it though, when it's so obviously gone to a good home! 

  4. Dhaka_Savar_Building_Collapse

    Yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. 1,138 garment workers died, after being threatened with the loss of their jobs if they didn’t go to work in a factory that was known to be structurally unsafe. 

    There were five garment factories in Rana Plaza manufacturing clothes for big name fashion brands. Not just cheap, fast fashion companies including Primark, Matalan and H&M, but for supposedly high quality labels too. 

    I’ve been trying to write something on the blog about this a while, but what can I say? I can’t tell you where to shop. But I do think that people need to be much more aware of the conditions under which their clothes are produced, which is what makes them so artificially cheap. 

    Fashion Revolution, a campaign started in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster, has an excellent ten-point manifesto of what a genuine FASHION REVOLUTION could look like. Culturally, we're very far away from it at the moment, but every single tiny little step in the right direction helps.

  5. custom dress - customer fabric

    This is the second of Diane's dresses - the one that we were originally intending to make before we got sidetracked by vintage sheets! 

    custom dress - customer fabric

    Diane sent over a nice big piece of this distinctive quilting cotton that had been in her stash just waiting for the right opportunity. After a very important discussion about which way up the print should go, it was transformed into a knee-length dress with a belt, perfect for the summer weather that's just arrived.