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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Daisies and Snowdrops..

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Dress: Bernie Dexter



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Daisy Fascinator: Handmade
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Love and Magic heels: Irregular Choice
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Bag: LYDC // Cardigan: Peacocks
This past week has been rather mental. Aside from the current work stress, I've had something on every evening after the gym, given blood and cleared out some more of my wardrobes. Somehow I also managed to find a few minutes to make this fascinator.

 This was one of those projects I'd decided I HAD TO make when I saw something similar in a vintage shop in Leeds a couple of years ago. Yes, it's taken me a while to get around to it, but I'm rather pleased. I can't quite decide if I'm wearing it in the right place as it looks a little off to me.

For an almost-snowy day on Thursday, I figured this snow scene Bernie Dexter dress was the perfect choice. My new-found love of coloured tights continues.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Friday Favourites 129..

Emily + Fin Claudia Cowboys
001: Emily + Fin Claudia Dress, £69 from Aspire Style
Boden Fruity Fun Dress
002: Fruity Fun Dress, £99 Boden 
CK Farmyard Dress
003: Farmyard Sketch Dress, £70 Cath Kidston
One of the most frustrating things about the spending ban has been seeing these pretty SS15 dresses trickling into the shops. These ones in particular are what I'm currently lusting over.

001: I absolutely love the cowboy print on this Emily and Fin dress. I don't think I've seen this shape before - the Claudia - but it looks like the perfect shape for me.

002: I love the print of this dress from Boden and am overlooking the fact that I'm not convinced the shape would suit me. The print is making me a little guilty about all of the time I should have been at the allotment, preparing for this year's growing season.

003: Cath Kidston never fail to come up with a couple of gems in their clothing range. This season, for me, the standout piece is this farmyard print dress. I like the fact it's a quirky print and yet the monochrome nature of it makes it seem less crazy. More demure, somehow. Even though I realise it's slightly ridiculous that I just described a dress with tractors printed on it as demure.

What's been catching your eye this week?

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Vogue V8346.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd made a coat over the Xmas break. I'd not intended to make a coat, at all but having seen this fabric on clearance sale in my local haberdashery in November, I totally fell for it and bought three metres, in the hope that would be enough for an at-that-point-undiscovered-coat-pattern.


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I had parked the idea to one side whilst I got on with other projects, until I was in Solihull with Sarah just before Xmas. We had a look in the John Lewis haberdashery section and I bought Vogue V8346 on the recommendation of the lady who worked there. I'd been flicking through the catalogues knowing I wanted something about knee length with a full skirt and this fitted the bill rather perfectly. 

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I couldn't wait to get started so as soon as New Year's Eve came around and I knew I had a day at home after a week or so of craziness, I set about cutting my pieces out. I'd picked this bright pink lining, which I liked and was rather cheap per metre. It's nice and shiny but wasn't too hard to work with.

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Now, I'd not made a proper coat before (let's forget the fact that one of the UFOs which haunts me is a jacket I began in my dressmaking lessons and never finished) and I am by no means an expert at dressmaking. I found that this pattern went together pretty easily and I couldn't fault the instructions. 
It went together rather like the cape I made. Obviously with sleeves. 

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Plenty of panels were required to achieve the full skirt effect of the coat. I'd chosen View <B> from the pattern, which gives five options with length and collar variations. I kept checking how the skirt hung on my mannequin - I really liked seeing how the shape of the coat was coming together. I didn't find it too difficult to stitch through the fabric and layers of lining, facing etc, which had been one of my main concerns, given that altering a coat is what led to the demise of my last sewing machine. I don't know whether that's because the Singer is stronger, or because my choice of fabric and lining wasn't as heavy-duty as some coats would be.

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All in all I think I spent about a day making this coat up. I decided to trace the pattern pieces before I started cutting them out, which is something I've only started doing recently. I sort of figured it makes more sense in case I want to make another length or style of the coat in the future. So that took a little more time than I'd usually expect. I then spent perhaps 6 hours once I had all the pieces cut out, sewing it together. 

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Here's how it looked when it was finished. I do like the full skirt effect, which is the shape of coat I'd always prefer as it makes them easier to wear with fuller skirts and dresses. 


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I followed the pattern almost exactly, until the very end instruction where I was to stitch buttonholes and add the buttons. I chose to use poppers instead and stitch a button on top of each of those. I also decided two would be sufficient, and placed them where I wanted based on the fit of the coat and how I wanted it to hang, rather than using the pattern instructions for guidance on where to place them.

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I'm not sure whether I'll make another coat - I'm sure if I find the perfect fabric I will. I'm quite impulsive like that with my dressmaking; I'll wait until I've found a fabric I like and decide what I want to turn it into, rather than having a pattern I want to make and searching for fabric to suit. 
I don't suppose I'll ever be one of those sensible stitchers who make a list or sketch a mood board of what their wardrobe is lacking and make the things from the list. That's just not for me.

And how does it add up in terms of cost? 
Well my fabric was on sale at £14/m and I bought 3m. £42
Lining was £4/m and I bought 3m to be on the safe side but only used 2m. £8
And the pattern, which was £14 from John Lewis. £14

Total cost: £64, which I don't think is bad for a winter coat when I consider ones I've bought in recent years from Louche, Tara Starlet, Warehouse, etc.

Would you make a coat?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Deep beneath the cover of another perfect wonder..

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Skirt: New Look

Feeling hugely overtired and uninspired yesterday, I turned to Whatsapp to help me decide what to wear. "A polka dot skirt and chunky jumper" came Emma's response. So, I went with that. 

I'd rediscovered this skirt at the weekend during the first stage of the grand wardrobe clearout, which is going pretty well. The next task is taking everything which I've outsorted and haven't been able to sell on down to the charity shops at the weekend, and then get cracking on clearing out the next section. 

It's been rather therapeutic to get rid of some of the items which no longer fit me, or which I just simply know I won't wear again. It's also been rather great to find things in there which I'd forgotten about. 


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Heels: Irregular Choice // Bag: Next

In anticipation on snow (we didn't get any) I chose this jumper and these heels, whose design always make me think of snowy times. I remember not really liking this skirt when I first got it, but I think I'm more comfortable wearing it with these fairly low heels. 

The penguin bag just makes me smile and sort of followed on from my cold and snowy thought process. 

How do you pick an outfit when you're feeling uninspired?

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Jumper: H! by Henry Holland

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Tuesday Titles 035: The Woods

The Woods
The Woods - Harlan Coben


I must admit, I'd not planned to read this book, but found it on my iBooks app the other day when I was in the car, having arrived too early for a meeting. It took me no time at all to get into the story and I was annoyed when I had to put it down.

Paul Copeland is a county prosecuter in America and his current case is a fairly gruelling rape case where two rich frat boys are being tried for the rape of an exotic dancer. In true American-rich kid style, one of the boys has his father do "anything he can" to ensure his innocence. Cue private investigators digging around in Paul's past and threatening to uncover some facts he would probably prefer were kept secret...

What did happen in the woods 20 years ago?

As with all of Coben's books, I found The Woods engaging and fast-paced. There's a twist towards the end which didn't go the way I'd expected it to, which is always nice. In my opinion, there's nothing worse than reading a book and knowing what the last few pages are going to hold before you get there.

Without wanting to spoil anything, I'd thoroughly recommend it.

Monday, 26 January 2015

She's in a long black coat tonight, Waiting for me in the downpour outside..

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Coat: Kate Spade
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Dress: Handmade (Betty pattern in Goldfinch fabric)
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Sandals: Emma Go // Tights: Primark
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Clutch: Marks and Spencer
Another Monday morning where it feels as though the weekend has zipped by without a moment to catch my breath. I've been so busy lately that I just sort of let that busy-ness continue, which meant productivity. I spent time with friends, had a lovely meal out and did my usual gym classes, but also managed to get a good few things ticked off the to-do list.

So the rest of my weekend was filled with plenty of Spring Cleaning and I've finally started my wardrobe clearout; something I've been meaning to get on with for a while now. Yesterday afternoon I tackled the skirt section. I've cleared out quite a lot in a range of sizes and listed them here on my IG sale page, if you want to take a look (I'm more than happy to answer questions, consider offers and provide measurements and postage estimates). I'm sure that there will be more when I tackle the next shelf.

This outfit was one from Saturday evening but I had to try it on again in the morning in an attempt to get this coat to photgraph properly. I love a good texture and this Kate Spade coat is beautiful - the best way I can describe it is a sort of tinsel feel, so it's really sparkly up close. After visiting the Kate Spade store in Las Vegas, I was well and truly taken by a coat I'd tried on there, but couldn't find my size anywhere online. I found this one on eBay during the course of my search and was lucky to win it for the starting bid.

I'm not convinced it's winter coat material - the sleeves are bracelet length, which ordinarily I wouldn't mind, but I think it was about -2C on Saturday night so I was a little chilly. Of course, that might have had something to do with the fact that I was wearing a summer dress and sandals. Duh.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Sunday Shoes 071..

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This might not strictly count as a shoe post, as I've actually already featured these shoes. (And, as can be seen from the fact they still have their tags on, haven't actually worn them yet!)

But, it is a shoe accessory post, as I'm rather excited about these! When I opened this Christmas present from Kezzie, I hadn't realised that these elephant shoe clips were just that - I thought they were hair bows to begin with!

I think they're going to be absolutely perfect on these shoes, though. Thank you Kezzie!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Crosley Amplitone Headphones..

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I know what you're thinking: "You're on a spending ban, why are you showing us something you've bought?" The reason would be that a new pair of headphones is one of the exceptions I allowed for when I was planning the spending ban. I've been looking for the perfect pair for a while and wanted to leave myself the opportunity to browse a little longer, rather than just panic-buying a pair before the ban began.

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Crosley Amplitone Headphones, £21
Anyhow, after a little searching, I went for a pair of these Crosley Amplitone headphones in turquoise. I ordered from Juno Records, which I really can't fault, as they provided free shipping and my parcel arrived the very next day. 

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Already, I absolutely love them. The matching cord is a cute touch and so far I'd say the sound quality is good. I'm only going to be using them with my iPod anyway (proper retro Classic, still going strong!) and they're a lot more comfortable to wear than those tiny in-ear ones. 

I'd definitely recommend these and Juno Records for their service, too. 

Friday, 23 January 2015

Friday Favourites 128..

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001: Wolford Rice Dot Tights, £31
ASOS dinosaur tights
002: ASOS Dinosaur tights, £8
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003: Pretty Polly Opaque Coloured Hold Ups, £33

This week it's been so cold that I'm all about the pretty hosiery. I seem to have amassed quite the collection of coloured opaque and patterned tights, but I also am finding that the tights curse is still upon me as I seem to only be able to get one or two days wear from a pair before I ladder them, which is quite annoying.

Here are the pairs I'd love to add to my collection (if money was no object and if I wasn't on a spending ban)..

001: I love polka dot tights, but these ones even more so because the dots are purple - so cute! I'd layer them with a pair of lace ankle socks and some brogues, I think.

002: I'm sure these need no explanation - dinosaurs!

003: I'm really loving hold ups, lately and fancy teaming these with some clashing heels, like in the photo.

Am I the only one suffering from this tights curse? Has anything caught your eye this week?

Thursday, 22 January 2015

She wants to dance like Uma Thurman..

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Dress: Handmade (Sew Over It "Betty")

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I know it's almost the end of January, but it suddenly occurred to me that I haven't yet shared my New Year's Eve outfit. I guess there's not a lot to say about it, really. I picked up the fabric in Goldhawk Road last summer, purely because it made me think of party dresses I'd had as a kid.

I made it into a Betty dress because I wanted the full circle skirt. A lot of people commented that it looks as though I've made it out of wrapping paper, and the fabric was a bit of a pain to work with - frays like a bugger! - but I rather liked the effect.


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

#FrockSwap15

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Smock Dress: H+M 
The shopping ban is going rather well at the moment. Potentially because I've not had a spare moment to browse online due to a busy work week, combined with the fact that I've avoided the shops at the weekend. Long may it continue. 


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Coat: Vintage // Gloves, Boots, Tights: Primark
However, I'm certainly up for signing up to various things which are going to make my new no-spending regime a little easier, and one of those things is #FrockSwap15. The idea is fairly simple; Ally, Donna, Erica and I will find some not-so-loved items from our wardrobes, something which we find hard to style and therefore tend to overlook. We send them on to each other to style up and by the time they come back to us, we should have a newfound love for our items, or at least some new outfit ideas.

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So, what to send on to them? Well, I have quite a few things in my wardrobes which I don't like quite as much as I thought I would. This is the dress I've chosen to send on to begin with, though. It's a smock dress from the H+M garden collection, which I think was actually passed on to me by Rosie. I LOVE the print. which is what prevents me from ever getting rid of it, but I'm just not so sold on the shape. Smock dresses just don't seem to flatter me and I'm always at a loss as to how to style them up.

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Jumper: Oasap // Necklace: Dorothy Perkins
I basically cheated here by layering a jumper over the top of the dress, adding a huge (so big and heavy that my neck needs time to recover after wearing!) necklace, and a pair of thigh boots, to combat the snowy miserable weather. 

How would you style this smock dress up? I can't wait to see what the other girls choose to do with it.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Tuesday Titles 034: Etta and Otto and Russell and James..

Etta and Otto and Russell and James
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

I whizzed through this book in the past week, mostly because I knew it was going to be discussed on Open Book on Sunday. I finished it on Saturday morning, then promptly forgot to listen to the programme. Which is a good example of how my week has been going.

Nonetheless, it was an interesting book and I'd wanted to review it anyway, so here goes.

Etta, aged 82, leaves a note for her husband Otto to let him know she's gone for a walk. She plans to walk across Canada to the ocean, thousands of miles away. (So far, so 100 year old man.., which I found that a lot of the ideas reminded me of. I don't know that this worked in Hooper's favour as that was a book which I really struggled to enjoy.)

So, Otto is left on his own to cope with cooking for himself and to be honest, he takes it rather well. He doesn't seem to be concerned for Etta and just takes things in his stride. On the other hand, neighbouring farmer Russell wants to follow Etta, to track her down and bring her home.

Etta is joined on her journey by a coyote named James, who keeps her company and protects her. Or is perhaps a figment of her imagination. Here's where the lines between reality and imagination get seriously blurred, even if we'd been accepting everything thus far as real.

The book flicks between past and present, rewarding the reader with nuggets of information about Otto's childhood, growing up with a large farming family and Russell next door, being brought up by his aunt and uncle, who made himself almost part of the Vogel family.

Flashbacks to Etta teaching at the school, Otto going to war and Russell being left behind to comfort a heartbroken Etta, are interspersed with Etta's journey and Otto's life back home. How much of any of it is reality, the reader can't be sure.

The one thing which really irritated me was that the author writes without the need for speech marks, but if you can look past that, it's not a bad read.

Monday, 19 January 2015

A pirate's life for me..

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Dress: Handmade (Simplicity 2444 in Windham Swim Team fabric)
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Cardigan, Bag: H+M // Necklace, Tights: Primark
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Dotty heels: Orla Kiely x Clarks
What a weekend when you end up more tired at the end of it than the beginning? I suppose that's the sign of a good one, though? Mine was full of parties and laughter, gym and running and a new mattress to replace the one which was damaged in a flood lately.

Somehow I managed to find time to finish of a dress I'd been commissioned to make. I was happily ironing it ready to pack up, when I noticed that one of the skirt panels had a couple of little holes in the fabric, as though it had been worn through. These must have been there when the fabric arrived, and I'd just not noticed, but I'm so glad I did before I sent it. Luckily I was using a fabric I've used for one of my own dresses, so I was able to cut that up to get a replacement skirt section and sent it off to it's new home. I'll certainly be checking fabric more closely when it arrives in future!

As for this outfit...it was sort of a comfort over fashion one, but finally a chance to wear my Dotty heels from Clarks. They're really comfy, and I still love the buckle detail and the dots, but I can't help wishing the heel was just a little higher. I went for a bit of a mish-mash of accessories; my swimmers dress with a pair of anchor print tights and a striped pirate handbag which I used to use daily for college books but have hardly thought of since.

How was your weekend?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sunday Shoes 070: Irregular Choice Trixy..

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The other pair of Irregular Choice shoes I received for Christmas were these Trixy unicorn heels.

To be honest, I hadn't expected to like these too much before they were released. I had looked at but dismissed the original unicorn heels, like Eternal Friend, as I wasn't too keen on the unicorn heel. I don't know why, as I love the character heels on my Cherry Deer and Flopsy heels, but there was something about the unicorn (and the cat) which I wasn't so taken with. (And don't get me started on those terrifying gnomes.)

But, in gold, they suddenly seemed so much more appealing. I don't know if it's the fact that the gold heel complements the gold in the floral or what, but I love these. I'm a sucker for textured fabrics so this jacquard is the perfect choice as far as I'm concerned, and I love the bright teal colour.

Of course, being the kind of person who would put a bow on anything if she could, the glitter bow on the front is one of my favourite features. So. Glittery.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Marmalade Cake..

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Last week, a big box of goodies arrived from Baking Mad, with an invitation to try out some of their recipes. There is just so much to choose from on the website and it all looks amazing - waffles for breakfast, anyone?

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I decided to give the Marmalade Cake a go. so got all of my ingredients together and dusted off my stand mixer. To begin with, I mixed the butter and brown sugar together, before adding the orange zest, marmalade and eggs. After that, I added the flour, baking powder and ground almonds, before pouring into a loaf-shaped tin.

Marmalade Cake

Despite making sure my over-zealous oven was set at a lower temperature than the recipe suggests, and covering the cake with foil, I still had to bring it out a little earlier than the instructions state. I do think this is more to do with my oven than the recipe, though. 

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I used the rest of the juice from the orange to mix up some orange icing which I drizzled over the top. I tried a slice, and the flavour was great. I took the rest into work the next day and it was gone in no time, so I think it's safe to say it was a success!

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Have you tried any new recipes lately?