Photos: By Bruce
Flower crown: Lily and Lace
Mourning bracelets (vintage): JeanJean Vintage
The number of times I’ve been told I was born in the wrong era… Countless. However the beautiful thing of living now is the that I can look back on all those wonderful periods (Victorian and 1920’s are my favourite) and recreate the designs whilst still having access to the modern necessities of life, say feminism, modern medicine, a fabulous array of fabrics and friends from across the world and an endless fountain of inspiration from the ether in which resides the internets. I’ve also started collecting vintage and antique lace and jewellery in the past year, things that I cannot find their equal of in todays fast consumerist society. I’m an old soul in a new world.
I found this vintage picture on the IG account of @shoppesimone and captured it on a screen shot knowing I needed to recreate the dress with black ribbons. The perfect linen fabric I stumbled across on another IG account, @scarletjonesmelbourne around a year later. They were practically giving away this gorgeous Italian linen which they had in storage ($20 per meter). I immediately purchased 5 meters, along with some navy and natural linen as well even though I was “technically” on a fabric purchasing hiatus.
The pattern is the modified bodice of Anna/Elisalex of ByHandLondon and the skirt an over exaggeration of the Emery by Christine Haynes with pockets. The first tier has additional fabric added to the width to create more fulness in the gathers and the second tier is attached to the lining.
The second tier is less full (I wasn’t using maths, I was guesstimating) and I’m actually quite pleased that it has less gathers than the first. It gives a different shape than I was expecting and overall makes the dress look a little less “poufy” whilst maintaining the original fit and flare design.
I lined the dress in a vintage cotton sheet that I picked up at a second hand store. The edge of the sheet had some beautiful blue embroidery which I will make feature of in a future petticoat/skirt that I have in mind.
The perfect black ribbon was purchased from Lily Pond and hand stitching it to the dress took longer than making the actual dress itself. I catch stitched by hand for a nice flat and even result. Not a speck of black thread to be seen on the inside.
I think there was about 12 meters of ribbon used and I stitched both the top and bottom by hand. Commitment to ones craft as always. I actually find hand stitching quite soothing. I love how this process cannot be rushed and accuracy is increased 10 fold when you have such fine control over the stitches.
I wore my new locket from JeanJean Vintage which I’d been stalking for months. It is black enamel with “In Memory of” inscribed on the front and contains a lock of hair that has been carefully braided and encased in the locket. I’ve no clue as to who it belonged to but I love that this was how women used to remember their loved ones who had died. Very Crimson Peak in it’s style, hopefully obtained under less violent circumstances.
And may we discuss the boots for a minute. Purchased from American Duchess, these beautiful boots laced with ribbon are the perfect fit for my often fickly tootsies. And how well do they compliment my dress! Comfort and historic style paired beautifully.
The photo’s were taken at the Winter Garden Cafe which had a beautiful exhibition of prints in their art gallery upstairs. It’s their 7th annual printmakers exhibition and runs from July 1 to July 31. If you are in the Geelong area I would recommend dropping in to view some of the amazing prints.
So, where do you get your inspiration for making? I have many screen shots on my phone, thousands of pinterest pins, and scraps from magazines that never seem to make it into the inspiration book…
Once a year I escape the chaos…
To sleep, stitch, eat, drink, rest.
To be taken care of by wonderful women who fill my soul to the brim.
To mingle with the unknown over breakfast and drink countless cups of tea.
And sip wine in bed after venturing out to the pictures deemed too arty for my local theatres.
And solitude. So rare and so soothing.
Then I return to the fold. Missed and missing all.
Until next time. Until next summer.
Photos by myself and Bruce. Dress made from Strawberry Thief Liberty Tana Lawn, a 40th Birthday present. Pattern, Flora skirt ByHandLondon attached to modified Anna/Elisalex bodice. Location at Brooklyn Arts Hotel, my home away from home. Vintage jewellery from JeanJean Vintage. Shoes by Camper.
Allow me to introduce you to the Sirena Dress. Designed by Itch to Stitch, this is Kennis’ latest design offering from her range of patterns designed under her Itch to Stitch label. Given this is a formal review of the pattern I may down play my text, but fear not there will be outtakes at the end.
I have previously made up the Marbella Dress, (also known as the English dress due to the gorgeous benefactor of fabric) so I was happy to offer my sewing services to pattern test the new Sirena Dress.
This dress is something of a classic, with a high round crew neck line, options for bell or cuffed sleeves, inseam pockets and a subtle A-Line skirt that for most falls at the knee but due to my height fell well above. Scandalous! There are also options and instructions to line or not line the dress.
As with the Marbella Dress, the bodice comes in a range of cup sizes from A to D which eliminates the need for SBA and FBA’s for many of the ladies. I cut a B cup size 6 and ended up grading out to an 8 at the hips. The PDF is also layered with sizes if your measurements fall into one size you can choose just that layer only and the one size will print. How wonderful for tracing! If you fall between two sizes as I did you can print just those sizes as well to allow for grading. Again, this is a fabulous option and I think should be part of all PDF patterns. There needs to be some compensation for sticking together 50 odd pages! (I accidentally taped all four options of cup sizes for the bodice, so really I’ve no one to blame but myself.)
My first toile needed a few adjustments as I cut a straight 6. I had to bring the fabric on the bodice in at the waist at both front and back darts and I also took 1cm off each side of the invisible zip. I may size down to a 4 of my next version an grade out to an 8 at the hips. The skirt is a very subtle A-line. As it is a fitted dress I would recommend making a toile to check the fit before cutting into precious fabric. I added 2.5cm to the length of the bodice as is my normal practice. Beautiful lengthen or shorten lines included on both the bodice and the skirt.
So what do I adore about this pattern? I love the high neck line. It’s perfect to add a little nana lace collar which is what will occur when I make my next black version. I will also add lace to the sleeves to give it a little victorian feel. I have ordered a black and gold memorial locket from etsy to complete the look. The bell sleeves are just adorable. I think they will be a little hard to wear under a normal cardi so shall invest in some long sleeve tops which has always been part of my winter layering look. The instructions were very clear and detailed, and I felt this pattern was a little more challenging than your basic indie pattern which I really enjoyed.
Kennis has advised that from the feedback from testers the front neck line has been dropped 1/2 an inch and just a few amendments to the instructions so nothing that would really change the look of how my dress turned out.
To see other versions of the dress visit itch-to-stitch.com. It was also great to see a large range of sizes tested for this pattern.
I really do love this dress, and I already have the fabric for my victorian gothling version. I may use a different skirt, most likely gathered and with lower pockets, and will definitely lengthen to below the knee.
The pattern for the Sirena dress can be found here
I love books. Real paper and ink books that are old and have that old book scent. I can get lost for hours reading. It appears (to me) we have moved away from the art of long story telling that includes miniscule detail, comment on society, in-depth discussion of clothing, the landscape and the complexity of human relationships in painstaking detail. I think the Gold Finch was the most modern book over 400 pages I’ve read in recent times. Caught up with fast fashion, fast food, fast writing. Through my readings I have learnt it is reasonable for me to stand my ground and not bend to the will of others. And I continue to learn! Bathsheba has recently become another heroine who has stolen my heart and increased my courage.
I hold a copy of Far From the Madding Crowd somewhere in my home but have yet to read it. I need to commit. However before I commit, I need to locate it…. Classic novels I have made it through include Les Miserables, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Mill on the Floss, Jane Eyre. Authors including George Elliot, Leo Tolstoy, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
I am going to exclude Gone with the Wind in this category (tried to re read recently, it was impossible), however it requires mention as it was the first book I read that didn’t have the happy ending. I cried for weeks (literally) because Rhett decided enough was enough. Scarlett and I were devastated. I even based my debutante ball dress the dress that she wore for barbecue.
I adore Russian literature, and have a long love for classic texts with complex characters. English classic literature is a close second. And I love collecting the older books that have previously been owned by others. I was the custodian of the most beautiful copy of Anna Karenina printed in the 1960’s on the thinest of paper with the smallest of type. Unfortunately my Burmese cat, Isaac, chose to place it in the fish bowl. He looked me in the eye and with one foul swoop of his paw my precious book landed in the truly murky waters. Sadly the book did not survive, and I believe the fish was later the victim of murder or assisted suicide by said cat. He was a cat that only I could love.
Some of these titles have been made into spectacular movies and mini-series. The Beautiful Lie currently screening on ABC is stunning. A modern take on Anna Karenina set in contemporary Australia. The script is beautiful and the costuming divine. Colin Firth as Mr Darcy always. No explanation required. Jane Eyre was breathtaking with Mia Wasikowska.
I watched Far from the Madding Crowd several months ago, and whilst taking in the story and the scenery, I started to plot new additions to my wardrobe based on Bathsheba’s daily farm wear. The long sweeping skirts, deep shades of indigo, the independent attitude she so wonderfully displayed.
Bathsheba is another heroine I can add to my list of vintage literature girl crushes.
My Gabriola skirt was the perfect pattern made in the softest Merchant and Mills linen purchased from Stitch 56. At the same time I found the block printed cotton also by Merchant and Mills for the top. I had two to choose from and decided upon the lighter for the Elisalex bodice with added peplum (drafted using the circle skirt app from By Hand London, recommend highly). I love the shaping of this bodice, having made the dress with an Anna skirt several times. The addition of the peplum suited perfectly, however it does act as a normal circle skirt would out in nature and there was much belly button flashing when the wind gusted. The second piece was used for the head scarf and a Tiny Pocket Tank.
The title of the book comes from the poem Elergy Written in the Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray:
Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
I try to escape the madding crowd from time to time through dress ups, film, art and literature.
What inspires you?
All film pictures remain copyrighted to their respective original owners. I had difficulty referencing some, so please let me know and I will add the appropriate acknowledgement/link.
This post is sponsored by the wonderful women from The Drapery, who in supporting Froctober and the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, gifted me the gorgeous Nani Iro fabric for my dress. The Drapery is a fabric store located in Adelaide, South Australia, that stocks carefully selected natural fibre fabrics (including Liberty, Nani Iro and amazing linens) and indie patterns. All opinions expressed remain my own.
Hello and welcome to the wonderful month of October! You can expect serious frockage, unseasonably hot weather and a plethora of days raising awareness for some of the many causes that are often funded by, and rely on, the good will of our community.
One of the main events held this month is Froctober, where ladies (and gents) frock up to raise much needed funds for research into ovarian cancer. It is reported that one woman dies every 10 hours from ovarian cancer and there is still no early detection test. Terrible. Women are normally diagnosed at the later stages of this disease, when the cancer has spread to other organs in the body. This means a significant decrease in the chances of overcoming this cancer. Early detection is key to treating and surviving this. Frocks around Australia are taking this seriously, and are being used to raise money for this much needed research.
At this point in time, the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) does not receive government funding, and relies on donations and fundraising from the community to develop an early detection test. I am proud to report that along with three of my colleagues at work, we raised $125 which will go directly to the OCRF. I also managed to discuss the fundraising and its importance with senior management by stating: “I’m raising money for ovarian cancer research, because, ovaries: where would we be without them?”. He looked at me for a second with head to the side, dropped some money in the jar and then quietly backed away…
If you would like to donate directly, you can do so here. I would post you cookies in exchange for donations, however they may end up as crumbs in the post.
So. Awareness raised. Let us move onto the frock.
Behold, my new Emery Dress with self-drafted skirt, made in the most beautiful Nani Iro double gauze, and lined in sultry silk. It is truly like wearing a whisper that only I can hear. Swish and swoosh, like the leaves gently rustling in the spring breeze.
I started by using the Emery bodice, adding a centre back seam to capture the selvage of the the Nani Iro, and then finishing off with a self-drafted pleated, wrap skirt. The dress is lined in silk, using the Emery skirt pattern with some of the width taken out to reduce bulk at the waist.
I created the skirt pattern by taking apart one of my oldest and favourite RTW dresses and using it as a template to create the pleats. I vividly remember the day I purchased it. Firstly because it was incredibly expensive for me at the time, and secondly because when I mentioned to Bruce I might be indulging in a pricy dress, it was given the ok if I bought home a chicken. Chicken was delivered, dress was purchased: a worthy exchange. It has been worn lovingly for over 7 years and was still in admirable shape, save for the highlighter pen marks. I’ve been wanting to recreate this for years, but didn’t have the heart to unstitch that dress and be left without it.
Luckily I found another version (in purple no less!) on eBay so was able to take the original apart. There were so many things to love about my old dress, including the details of the metal adornments (lovingly restitched onto the newly made dress), the hem (again reused on my Emery dress) and the number of well placed stitches that held it together over time. The thing with properly made garments is they take time to deconstruct as well as construct. Not the typical pull one thread and the entire piece falls apart. It took hours to undo, it was so well made.
The pleats sit in a most pleasing fashion on the derriere. Top stitched down by a 9cm long rectangle, they hold fast across the bottom before gently flaring out. This also makes for excellent twirlability.
I also put in a side zip. Revelation! It is so lovely to zip the side without having to do the wiggle dance involved with centre back seam closures.
I also had the opportunity to try out my fancy new shoes. I think they will be perfect for sitting down and indulging in high tea. They are definitely not made for walking. I felt like a baby giraffe on stilts.
So a beautiful dress for a well deserving cause. Sadly this particular print is now out of stock, however there are a number of other equally beautiful Nani Iro fabrics in-store and I’m informed by a well placed source that a new shipment is on the way. The Drapery is also offering 10% off combined fabric and pattern purchases until the end of October with $2 from each combined purchase being donated to ORCF. Support research, save money and buy beautiful fabric. Sounds like an excellent deal to me!
Curtsey and may we find early detection for ovary health soon. Because literally, we wouldn’t be here without them ; ).
Photos by Bruce. Nani Iro fabric gifted from The Drapery. Hair flowers by Garden of Whimsy. Shoes from Christian Louboutin. Tights from Wolford. Marrimeko parasol from Kiitos. Lack of bubbles presented by B1 and B2.
This is a sponsored post – my first!
Gallery Serpentine is a unique corsetry & alternative fashion emporium in Sydney, Australia. They carry a huge range of alternative clothing and accessories and curate an eclectic mix of gothic and steampunk wear. The following product was gifted to me in exchange for review after they happened upon my blog earlier this year. All opinions expressed are my own.
Hello and Greetings!
How is it that the first half of this year dragged its sorry feet for sooooo long and then July hit and the year is almost over! I missed August completely, although my personal records indicate I did participate in a number of activities. I’m still trying to adjust to it being the end of September…
Which leads me to my next elaborate project. A dress for my upcoming high tea to celebrate a little milestone birthday. Fifteen of the most lovely ladies sipping Pimms, eating cucumber sandwiches and devouring eclairs will gather and celebrate what is now no longer considered middle age.
I’ve been pondering this dress for a good six months, and finally inspiration was forthcoming. I’m decommissioning a 1950s cream lace dress that, even after alterations, didn’t quite have the right fit. I will combine it with a contrasting lace bodice using the Elisalex bodice from By Hand London. The challenge was finding a vintage fabric that would contrast as a bodice and be of an age that complimented the original skirt.
I found the perfect fabric at the bottom of a remnants bin in a store at the end of an alley way. After getting lost several times (true story). All for the (unmarked, unfolded, scrunched up, powerfully scented) price of $20. Lovely.
When I got home, I laid out the new addition to my stash, and found it to be rather more pungent than originally thought. I washed it three times in wool mix and hung it outside so it could enjoy the sunshine and a brisk breeze. Unfortunately the mustiness permeating the fabric was entrenched and stubbornly resisted fading.
So I turned to the Corset Refresher which had been sent to me by Gallery Serpentine. It’s true purpose is to refresh corsetry that cannot be washed due to boning and construction. A light spray is applied after every 3-4 wears to give it a little refresh. It can also be used on bed linen to liven things up between washes. It was designed by Cult of Scent exclusively for Gallery Serpentine and is based on an eau de cologne recipe. Plus it has antibacterial properties which really effects the the scent of your clothes, unlike spraying with perfume. I like to employ my lateral thinking from time to time and as my corset collection stands at a total of one and I don’t wear it regularly, I had to wait a while until an opportunity presented itself.
It specifically warns against using on lighter coloured fabrics, but I’d found myself at the point of employing the scent to see what the results were, participate in some research on the interwebs for treating vintage fabrics (which I didn’t have the time or inclination to do) or dispose of it. I took the radical path.
I used the parisian method of application. That is: spray the mist into the air at ankle, knee and waist height and pass the fabric though the mist to avoid concentrated areas of liquid forming on the fabric. If it was perfume I was applying to myself, I would use the same principal: spray at several heights in front of the body, and with a certain graceful and dignified élan walk through the mist and finish off with a little hand flapping once the passage had been completed. Dramatic, but effective as I don’t like to apply perfume directly to my skin. Does anyone else apart from Boo and me do this?
Once treated, I allowed an hour for it to be draped inside and then again let it out on the line in for the brisk breeze to do its work.
Surprisingly, it lifted the pungent mustiness which had been persisting as part of the distinctive character of this fabric. I didn’t think anything would shift the odour, which I assumed would persist until the end of creation. The scent of the corset refresher is fresh and not at all floral or sweet. The bottle describes the essential oil ingredients as being organic lime, organic tea tree and cedar oil in an alcohol base. And that’s exactly what my fabric now smells like. There is still the tiniest hint of must, but it is now ready for cutting and stitching up. And possibly another treatment before the big day.
I also have several other pieces of clothing that I don’t wash due to the age of the fabric or the fact they would otherwise have to be dry-cleaned. This includes my frocktails dress. It will only be worn occasionally and I like to think that I wear my clothes lightly, leading to a longer life span. I’m not a big fan of dry cleaning, and often with my everyday wear I find that a good airing sees them through several wears. I try to be kind to my clothes and the environment and not overwash, especially when I don’t have to. All the smalls, delicates and B1 and B2’s do get washed regularly though. There is no avoiding that!
So I managed to rescue what I though was doomed fabric using the corset refresher. And I figure that if it worked so well on a piece of fabric I was about to give up on, it will work wonderfully on my clothes that need a little scented lift and not the full cleaning experience. And as I said before, it’s not just for corsetry. It is destined to be used on a few other items I have lazing around in my wardrobe. I think it will brighten (or darken, depending on your goth status) the scent on a variety of different fabrics. And it’s perfect when you don’t need to do a full clean, or can get away with spot cleaning. So if you have some special clothing that you avoid washing for fear of damage, I would recommend this. A little scent goes a long way. I will certainly be using it again, but next time will be sizing up for the refill from Gallery Serpentine.
To have a further read or to explore the Gallery Serpentine website, you can peruse at your leisure here. There is a world of gothic goodness, parasols and corsetry ready to discover.
Post Script: Gallery Serpentine actually found my post here when I went on my adventure to the Antipodean Steam Punk Exhibition last year. Some of their corsetry and garments had been curated in the exhibition along with a number of other amazingly talented gothic and steampunk artisans. I was a little honoured they read my post as I have made several parasol purchases from them, stalked them online for several years and have always intended to visit their store. I just need to get to Sydney. And I’m sure I could get away with wearing this to work…