Monday, 31 March 2014

Laura Ashley Love..

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Laura Ashley SS14 haul
It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Laura Ashley. An iconic, British brand which I've grown up loving (I have my mother to thank for that!), I'll take any opportunity to add to my collection.

If I'm totally honest, the past 18 months or so haven't seen the release of any pieces which have *really* appealed to me, but when I saw the SS14 lookbook, I knew that this was about to change. Laura Ashley styles seem to have returned to the archetypal cotton 50s frocks, which are right up my street. I was very excited to see some of the dresses I've been waiting for hit the site last week, and lost no time in placing an order, which I picked up on Wednesday from my local store.

Vintage Floral Cotton Sateen Dress, £80

I posted here about the new collection pieces and what I had my eye on. I knew that the checked dresses and the map print dress had to be mine. The green floral dress is one which I didn't spot in the lookbook, but noticed on the site a couple of weeks ago and promptly added to a wishlist post. It's an archive print (I love that Laura Ashley reinvent their archive prints for new pieces) and is made in a really pretty cotton sateen, which has a lovely sheen to it's finish.

Pane Check Dress, £85
The blue checked dress is very very similar indeed to the one which was released in 2010, although a little lighter shade of blue. I know it was a popular style back then. Part of me thinks that there may have been a red version, but I can't find anything about it online, so I may be getting it confused with this rose print one, which was the same style. I loved my old navy check dress, so was really pleased that this one will make a decent replacement, as that one no longer fits me at all.

Pane Check Dress, £85
The pink one is (obviously) the same, but just as pretty in my opinion. I am really jumping on the gingham bandwagon lately and the large checked print on these makes me think of summer picnics. They are both cotton again, with fully lined skirts as well as bodices.

Map Print Cotton Fit Flare Dress, £85

Last but not least, the piece de resistance. I knew that I needed to make space in my wardrobe for the map print dress just as soon as I saw it. I hadn't realised how pink the background was (I'd though it was more of a creamy-beige when I saw it on the lookbook), so that was a pleasant surprise. The fabric print has a checked grid background, which makes me think of old maps and the main print is such a pretty treasure map. Pirates, whales and ships, oh my!

I seem to be saying this an awful lot, lately, but could the warmer weather get a move on? Now all I have to do is decide what to wear them with. Which is your favourite? Are you a Laura Ashley fan, too?

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Sunday Shoes 040: Irregular Choice Blythe heels


I thought that starting the #irregularchoicechallenge, where I wear a different pair of my Irregular Choice shoes each day (and post a pic on Instagram) would mean that I finally get around to wearing some of the pairs which have never had an outing. What I seem to have been doing instead, this past week, is scouring eBay for new pairs to add to my collection, which means that it's going to take even longer to work my way through them all!

I have a few of the Irregular Choice/Blythe pairs in my collection already, (these pink ones and these green being my most worn) but before spotting them on eBay a couple of weeks back,  I'd never even seen this pair before. I have no idea what the style is called (I don't know many of them, to be honest, which is something I've realised since beginning my challenge).

I was immediately taken by them. The fact that they're monochrome and yet have so many different things going on really appealed. I love the pom poms, which are wool, and the different fabrics mixed together on the uppers. Obviously I love the Blythe doll face on the side of each shoe as well.

The ankle straps can be removed, although I think if I do that they may  be a little big for my feet. I also have visions of wearing them with a pair of coloured tights underneath, for the contrast, so I feel as though I need to get them worn as part of my challenge pretty soon, before tights weather leaves us behind for a while. For some reason, the woolen pom pom makes me think winter.

Have you seen these before? What would you wear them with?

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Sending out the message to all of my friends..

Louche Bonne Dress: Joy
Monkey Earrings: Topshop
Cardigan: Matalan
Mushroom Court Shoes: Irregular Choice
Today I'm sharing an outfit from last weekend as I'm currently assisting with the running of a county event for 800 or so Brownies. I'm expecting it to be mayhem.

This was actually a party outfit I'd had planned for a couple of days before the party itself. That never usually happens and I'm often rushing around trying desperately to decide what to wear, a couple of seconds before I'm due to leave.

As I was searching out a pair of shoes I'd wanted to wear last week as part of my #irregularchoicechallenge, I'd come across the box for these ones, which I've not worn much at all. I bought them as they were in the sale on a shopping trip to the Irregular Choice store a few years ago, but they'd always been a little snug, so I'd tended to stick to the other colourways I already had.

Now that my feet are a little smaller, I managed to wear them with no problems, and decided that they would match quite nicely to this dress, which I'd ordered from Joy in the January sales and then wondered when I'd ever wear it. I do love a good shiny party dress, though. And actually, I really like the bow and cut-out detail to the back of it.

I'm not sure I'd ever worn the monkey earrings before, either. I received them as a Christmas gift from my sister a couple of years ago, when Topshop seemed to be full of jewellery fit for the #wardrobezoo.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Friday Favourites 088..

Bathroom Wishlist

This week marks a year of house hunting and the hunt is not getting any easier with time. Having looked at yet another horrible three-bed semi this week, I am trying so hard not to get disheartened but it's really difficult. I think I'm being too picky, but there are some things which I really am not going to compromise on.

To distract myself from refreshing the Rightmove page for the umpteenth time, I've been trying to look at the bigger picture, and remind myself that a lot of things can be changed.

This week, I've put together a wishlist of some of the things I'm planning to add to my bathroom, when I finally settle on the right house for me.

001: I've had my eye on this map print chest of drawers for quite some time. It would serve as the perfect linen cabinet.

002: Ironically, as I hate taking baths, I've always dreamed of having a freestanding bath, like this one. I've just always liked the classic look that they give to a room. I love the fact that the feet on this one are gold coloured, which I would use as the basis for the rest of the decor.

003: Inspired by Jenni's post this week, I like the idea of gold coloured painted picture frames on the walls and I think this mirror would fit rather perfectly with them.

004: Of course, no bathroom would be complete without a nice new set of towels. I've had towels from Cath Kidston before and always been pleased with the quality, and I really like the rose design on this set.

What do you think of my picks? What would your perfect bathroom include?

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Sewing for Pleasure..

Despite thinking that the weekend was going to be too full for me to find time to breathe, it actually turned out to be quite a productive one. In between running errands and attending Little Sis' birthday party on Saturday, I managed finally to turn another of my fabrics into a dress.

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Dress: Handmade (Simplicity 2444 bodice w/ gathered skirt)
I'd ordered this Sarah Jane mermaid print (the range is called Time for Play) from Brighton Sewing Centre, about a year ago, as I'd been struggling to find enough of it left anywhere else and was desperate to turn it into a dress. So desperate, indeed, that it's been sat in the fabric trolley ever since.

I've been telling myself for a while that I really CANNOT justify any more fabric purchases until I've used up what I have. (I did make an exception to this rule for the Mad Men challenge, as I didn't have enough of anything for the pattern I'd wanted to make). However, productivity levels hadn't been that great last week and I'd only gotten as far as pinning out my pattern.

Thankfully, I managed to get it put together in my spare couple of hours on Saturday. OK, so I haven't exactly used up a lot of my stash, but it was one step closer, I suppose. A good thing, too, as Sarah and I went to the NEC on Sunday for the Sewing For Pleasure Show, where I was sure there would be plenty of fabric bargains to be had.

Sewing for Pleasure Show

There was quite a lot to see, with various demonstrations running throughout the day. We didn't stay for those, but went to look at the giant fabric books, which were quite impressive. We had a good wander around the stalls themselves and I managed to talk myself out of buying an overlocker, for the time being anyway.

Although there were quite a lot of stalls, I'm not sure that any of the fabric I was interested in was actually any cheaper than you can find it online - in fact, some of it was a LOT more pricey. That said, I did come home with three new fabrics, because I couldn't resist their prints. The camera and the ant print fabrics were £7/m and the dinosaurs, which I already had in black from the last fabric shopping trip, was £8/m (although that's a 60in roll, so I still think that's really good!).

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Fabric finds from the show
I came home feeling inspired and decided that I would get on with the next dress I'd decided to make anyway, which was my original dinosaur fabric. I'd managed to pick up some blue bias binding in the hope that I could match it to the print and make contrasting neckline and armholes. I rather like how it turned out, although I'd use wider bias binding in future, and would maybe edge the hem as well.

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Dress: Handmade (Simplicity 2444 w/gathered skirt)
I was rather pleased as this one only took me a few hours on Sunday evening, despite having a little mental block about which order I needed to attach things for the gathered skirt to work with the pockets and the waist tie. That's what happens when you decided to work without a pattern, I suppose.

I'm pleased to mention that these are dresses 12 and 13 of the year, which I suppose means that I've already reached my target of one item per month, pro rata. That said, I'm still really enjoying my dressmaking, so long may it continue.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Mad Men Sewing Challenge..

When I saw that Julia Bobbin was running a Mad Men inspired sewing challenge, I couldn't wait to get involved. As soon as I saw it, I knew which dress I wanted to use as my inspiration. I've only watched the first four seasons of Mad Men, but this polka dot dress of Betty's is probably my favourite outfit of all of the episodes I've seen. By a long way. (Also, I sort of want to be sulky Betty, as I think she's awesome, not just for the fact that she gets to share a bed with Don - jealous!).

Julia Bobbin - Mad Men Challenge III

So, it was on to the fabric hunt. Although I have been trying hard to use up what fabric I already have in the stash, I've been buying approx. 2.5m of everything lately, which I knew wasn't going to be enough for the long, full-skirted number I had in mind. I managed to find this cream polka dot Dupiaza satin on eBay for around £5/m and I bought 5m, just in case. Mostly because I'd not quite decided what pattern I'd be using.In the end I only used about 3.5m but it's better to be safe than sorry.


In the end, after searching through most of the pattern websites to find something similar enough, I decided that I could actually use this Butterick B4513, which I've made before, but not for a while. I purchased some satin bias binding for the neck and armhole edges and the straps and set to work.

I'd been a little wary of working with satin, which was new to me, but I actually didn't have any problems with it, other than the fact that I probably used elastic which was a little too wide for the waistband, so trying to insert that into the channel (which I didn't  want to fray, so had probably stitched a little further away from the raw edges than I usually would, which won't have helped either) was a little tricky. Other than that, no issues with this make, other than the fact that I probably should redraft the bodice to fit me a little better.

That didn't really matter too much for this photo, as I wanted to wear the straps off the shoulder like in the Betty pic, and practiced my best pouty sulking face for my own version of the picture.

In all likelihood, I will probably take the hem of this dress up a little before I wear it for real. I think it will be that little bit less "formal occasion only", if I do. I really like the way it turned out, though.


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Out with the old, In with the new..

Anyone else thrilled by the thought of spring, this year? I do seem to be anticipating it more than I recall doing so in previous years. That could be a result of ALL OF THE PRETTY THINGS in the shops at the moment. I mentioned in last week's wishlist post that all of a sudden, all of the shops seem to have got their pretty things in. So, although I don't often do this, I thought I'd share some of the things I've been buying lately.

Having been very much in Spring Clean mode for the past few weeks, I've been doing quite well at being ruthless and ridding myself of the things I no longer wear. Some of this has gone to the blog sale, anything tatty or worn or faded from the sunlight has gone to my local clothes charity bin. This means that I've made a little space in the wardrobe room. And promptly filled it back up again, but can you blame me?

Matalan Organza Check Skirt
Matalan have been absolutely killing it lately with their new season clothing. I have to admit, after they tweeted a sneaky pic at the end of last year, the organza skirt has been on my radar for a while, so I snapped it up just as soon as I could find it in store (as have, by the looks of my Instagram feed, just about everyone else I follow!) I love the checks and the pretty organza section - it makes me think of Grease, and 50s milkshake bars. In fact, so do a lot of the things I've bought recently.

The organza dress and the two polka dot jumpers are also from Matalan. The dress is the same fabric as the skirt and I think the weight of it should mean that it hangs really nicely. As for the jumpers, I know that Spring should mean better weather, but for now I seem to be embracing layers. Plus, we had hailstones at the weekend - WTF? I couldn't resist the polka dots due to their textured effects (and more pretty pastel colours). I have a thing about pastels and can't help hearing Meryl Streep's voice in The Devil Wears Prada misquoting "pastels for spring, groundbreaking." But never mind.

Matalan Polka Dot Jumper (s) // River Island Embellished Top // F+F Fluffy Cropped Jumper
I couldn't resist the pink cropped jumper after seeing it on Rachel's blog, and when I got to the F+F site, it had been reduced to half price (£8, which is a bargain in my book). I ordered it with free click and collect and it was there the following lunchtime. The River Island top was a bit of an impulse buy; I couldn't resist the embellishment despite not knowing quite how I'm going to style it - it seems to be mroe of a "with jeans" top, which isn't something I wear, but I think I'm going to try it over dresses.

Boden Nancy Dress // Cath Kidston Safari Dress // Great Plains Tuscany Dress
The Boden Nancy dress and Great Plains Tuscany dress have both featured on my wishlists, as I've been waiting for them for a while. I pre-ordered the Nancy dress from Boden as soon as I was able to do so, as I didn't want to miss it when it came out, and it arrived last week. I love the mix of colours and the length is pretty good on me (I'd been deliberating between long and regular, this is the regular). I envisage it will get a lot of wear when the sun starts to show itself.

The Cath Kidston dress was my purchase from their flagship store on my recent London trip. Jazmine kindly invited me to the #180Piccadilly safari party, which I was able to show my face at, because it happened to be the same day I was in the capital for my Queen's Guide presentation. I'd planned to purchase the safari print playsuit (another thing I've been waiting eons for the arrival of) but after trying it on, I decided I liked the dress version better.
Matalan Organza Prom Dress

Oh wow, quite the essay. I think that's all I have to say about my pretty new things, other than that I can't wait to wear them all.

What have you been buying lately? Are you excited for the arrival of spring?

Monday, 24 March 2014

I'd rather be in Tuscany..

Tuscany Dress: Great Plains*
Collar Necklace: New Look
Teddy Court Shoes: Irregular Choice
Cardigan: River Island

I wishlisted (is that a word?) this dress a good while ago now; in fact, how fitting that it stole my heart on Valentine's Day! Therefore, it took me no time at all to opt for this dress when the lovely folks over at Great Plains offered to send me an item to review.

When it arrived, I certainly didn't regret my choice at all. The quality is really good, as I knew it would be, based on some of my other GP dresses. The Tuscany dress is made from a linen mix fabric, so the shape holds really well and I love how the panels are cut to produce a fabulously structured, nipped in waist, as I need all the help I can get in that department!

I picked out the colour of some of the roof print with this cardigan. I love the little house print and it does rather make me think of Mediterranean holiday cottages. This collar necklace, picked up from New Look in the post-Xmas sales, provided a bit of sparkle and a pair of Irregular Choice shoes finished the outfit off. I'm well into my #irregularchoicechallenge and am wearing little else lately.

I wore it on Friday and actually took these photos twice (hence the change in hair); one set at 6am before I went to the gym before work, and then the other lot at about midnight when I got home from visiting my best friend after work. Friday was a long day, as you can see from the half-asleep photo, which i left in because I liked it better than most of the others.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Sunday Shoes 039: Irregular Choice Hello Ha

Irregular Choice Hello Ha, £79.99

I think I spoke too soon when I said recently that the new styles Irregular Choice were releasing lately weren't really my cup of tea. I guess that was before I saw these Hello Ha heels. They're pretty much perfect, right down to the cute cherry print fabric on the inside.

The floral print makes me think Orla Kiely, and you know how I feel about bows on shoes. I like the fact that they have the interesting front shape caused by the two straps across the front - this makes them a little different to the Bowtiful and Gravitational Pull which I guess are similar styles.

The perspex heel is becoming fairly standard in the latest court styles and whilst I'm beginning to get a little bored of it, I have to admit it's a nice feature and does create a balanced shape on these round fronted styles.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

What's the frequency, Kenneth?

Dress: Peacocks
Boots: Moony Mood
Sewing machine necklace: Gift
Cardigan: Tu Clothing

I'm not convinced about this dress anymore. I dug it out of one of the wardrobes for the first time in a couple of years and I'm not sure it's a keeper. Which I suppose is OK, as rail space is like gold dust in that room, lately, so the more things I can decide on getting rid of, the more space I have for new things. It's almost getting to the point where there is no space for anything else. No more shopping? Eep.

As it was, after a day of this dress I decided I can't get away with it being two sizes too big anymore, and would either need to alter it so that the bodice wasn't gaping so much, or get rid. I think I'm erring on the side of getting rid because I'm no longer a fan of the bubble hem, either. I think that it just doesn't do my shape any favours. So, into the "outsorted" pile it goes, to charity shop, or blog sale, or whatever.I seem to be adding so many things to the blog sale page lately; I think I'm finally getting to the point where I really feel like getting rid of things and being more ruthless, whereas in the past I've held on to things "just in case". I seem to be on the spring cleaning wavelength.

The boots, however, are a different story. I think I like these more now than the first time I wore them. I do seem to have a thing about shoes with bows on them, lately.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Friday Favourites 087..

Laura Ashley Vintage Floral
001: Laura Ashley Vintage Floral Dress, £80
002: Untold Bardot Floral Dress, £115
Monsoon Versailles
003: Monsoon Versailles Prom Dress, £109
ASOS Jacquard
004: ASOS Tiffany Midi Dress, £85
It's as though all of the shops have timed it so that they start offering lovely frocks at the same time, this year. After weeks of not really finding anything I liked, this week it's all happening. The Boden dress of dreams has arrived, I have dresses on the way from Great Plains and from Emily and Fin, and these are just a few more which have well and truly stolen my heart.

001: Laura Ashley really are back in my good books this year.After posting my wishlist a while back now, some of the new stock is hitting the website and I could not be more excited! I've already ordered the check dresses and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the map print one. I also noticed this one, which must have escaped my glance when I was perusing the lookbook. I love the colours and the print and the shape of the neckline, and don't feel guilty at all that it may have 'fallen' into my online basket.The perfect Springtime dress, right?

002: I noticed this Bardot beauty on She and Hem's recent post. I've not been in HoF for a while, so it's only just made it onto my radar, but I can't stop thinking about it. I love poppies and the orangey red of this dress would lend itself to being paired with just about anything, I reckon. I'll be ordering just as soon as I have a party to go to.

003: This Monsoon dress is one which I'd seen on the website and not thought much of. Then, when I was in Covent Garden recently, I saw this dress in real life and it's a beauty. I like the prom shape best, although there is also a blue shift version. It has a beaded neckline detail which goes all the way down the back; it's absolutely on my wishlist and I'm fairly sure it will be mine before too long.

004: This ASOS dress is such a pretty spring colour, and the same shape as one I bought before Christmas, so I know that I'll like it. I'm starting to think it's a rather good job I won some extra cash as the poker night we had last weekend.

How to choose? Which is your favourite? 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Colors fading, frayed at the sight..

Coat: Henry Holland
Perfume Bottle Necklace: New Look
Shoes: Irregular Choice
Dress: F+F // Cardigan: H+M
I know this outfit is nothing special, but it's what I wore, so I guess it's got as much right as any other to be included here. My blog is nothing if not a true reflection of me, myself and my outfits.

I'd almost completely forgotten about this dress, until I was clearing out some items I no longer wear for the blog sale, which I'm adding more and more to each day, as I get chance. In doing so, I realised that even though I have the blinds closed, always, the sun seems to have got to a couple of my dresses and faded them slightly. Waah.

Thankfully this one wasn't affected and therefore escaped the charity bag. I decided to wear it as something plain to go with these Irregular Choice shoes, which I won last year on eBay but don't think I've worn before. The #irregularchoicechallenge is doing a great job at helping me to remember some of the pairs I've never worn and in some cases, forgot I'd owned. I'm considering doing some kind of monthly(?) round up of the pairs I've worn, for those who may be interested but don't have IG. What do you think?