Tuesday, 31 May 2011


I've just bought tickets to see Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot at the Brixton Academy in July, with support by the Jim Jones Revue!!! I actually got so excited I nearly hyperventilated...

Now to planning what I'm going to wear, I need something crazy rockabilly - I've been to see them both before, and whilst the JJR audience were fairly mixed, I felt distinctly underdressed at the Brian Setzer gig (despite having felt totally overdressed on the way there). I'm planning to get a proper haircut and set the day before for a wedding, so hopefully I can keep that look going for the next evening.

Did I mention I am REALLY RATHER EXCITED!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Two days to go...

...until Me-Made-June begins!

I've been inventorying (is that a word?) my self-made and refashioned items, and I think I'm ok to start off with, but I still have a couple of items I want to sew to fill in a couple of gaps and give some more possible combinations. I also need to make a couple of swish dresses for swish parties I have coming up in June (and these can then hopefully been worn to some of the million and one weddings I'm going to this year...)

Self-made/refashioned items






  • Jersey strand necklace
  • Yellow knitted circular scarf (well, this is almost finished, although I'm not sure it's the right sort of weather to be wearing it!)
  • Green and black earrings
  • Moderately fluffy petticoat

A few of these are things that I made a while back, and my sewing skills have improved since then (and skills in knowing what to sew that suits me), so I'm not sure I like wearing them any more. Well, this is meant to be a challenge, so I will challenge myself to wear these things too. And if I don't like them I will attempt to adjust/refashion them, or give them away (argh, why is that so hard with self-made stuff? It's like giving away my babies. Even if they're ill-fitting, unflattering and badly made babies). I think a couple of these things might be the wrong season to wear too (it's currently 28˚C here, so all I can think about are loose summer dresses).

Planned items

  • Green stripe seersucker dress
  • White eyelet dress
  • Stripey sheer lawn tunic dress
  • Maxi dress
  • Swanky summer party dress
  • Pencil skirt
  • A-line skirt with kick pleat
  • White lawn/eyelet top
  • Extra tank tops
  • Lightweight cardies
  • Sweatshirt "jacket"
  • Green denim shorts
  • Cuffed loose trousers
  • Kitchen and garden aprons
  • Flowers for hair
  • More (as yet undefined) jewellery

Hmm, that's quite a lot of stuff to sew isn't it - and that's just the "essential" things. Better get going!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Heads up: Alexander McQueen

A heads up to anyone in London - Harvey Nichols currently has a selection of McQueen couture dresses in the windows of the Knightsbridge flagship store, promoting the New York Met Museum retrospective.

You can't get up terribly close to the dresses, and the window reflections play havoc with taking photos (as you'll see the evidence of below), but it's still super interesting to be able to see such a selection of (a) proper couture catwalk dresses and (b) McQueen dresses from as far back as 1999. It always surprises me how "handmade" many catwalk dresses look (haha from my vast experiences of about 4 V&A exhibitions!!!). I guess they are one-offs and not really meant to be seen super close up. It would be amazing to actually be able to have a proper nose around them to have a look at all the internal construction...

The display is only up until the end of May, so get there quickly! Here's a few photos to give you an idea of what's there:

I did some shopping whilst I was in London (of course) and now seems like an appropriate time to show you some of the jewellery I bought - yep, an Alexander McQueen pendant! I'm sure it's not to everyone's taste, but I adore it...

Pattern review - gingham blouse

Pattern description

BWOF 06/2008/105A. Blouse with extended shoulders and side seam gathers at waist level.

Pattern sizing

38-46. I cut the 44, made a 1.5cm FBA and curved in the CB seam 1cm at the waist.

Fabric used

Black and white gingham with black cotton for the yoke, collar stand and upper collar, and placket facing.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope when you were done?

Yep pretty much (but in a different fabric obviously!)

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Yep, very straightforward. This pattern was the special feature "sewing course", so the instructions were much more in-depth than usual. It's super simple to make though so you don't need to study the instructions too much.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I like the way the darts are rotated into the waist gathers - as well as being very comfortable to wear, it also does interesting things to the grainlines, so it's especially nice made up in something with stripes. The pattern is drafted with just a single layer yoke (i.e. no facing/lining piece). I kept it like this as I didn't want too much bulk (the main body of the blouse is in very lightweight gingham, but it would be simple to add this if you wanted a more traditional finish.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

I made a 1.5cm FBA, rotating the extra fullness partly into the front shoulder gathers and mainly into the waist gathers, and scooped in the CB seam at the waistline to compensate for my narrow lower back. I divided the placket into top and facing, and cut out the top part and the under collar on the bias for visual interest. I used the pleats on the sleeves from view B as without them the wide sleeves looked a bit weird on me. I left off the front loop and tie band as I knew I would be wearing it with a purchased belt, or tucked in.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I would definitely recommend it for a cute and interesting blouse that's super quick to sew up. I doubt I'll sew it again in the near future as I have many other tops I want to sew!


I'm very pleased with this blouse. It was super easy to make (and I was especially pleased with the ease it went together as this was my first attempt at a stand collar), and very nice to wear. The gingham was a good choice of fabric as it's light and summery, and it can be styled a number of ways.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Pattern review - oversized T-shirt top, take 2

So I mentioned in my previous review of this pattern that I'd already started sewing another version - this is the review of that second version!

Pattern description

Kwik Sew 3496, view A. Misses' pull-over tops. View A has boat neckline and elbow length dolman sleeves.

Pattern sizing

XS-XL (bust 31.5-45"). I cut the large.

Fabric used

Lightweight rayon slub jersey (from Fabric.com). This worked much better with the pattern than the thicker cotton jersey and is super lovely to wear, but was a bit of nightmare to sew with (not least because the pins kept falling out...)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope when you were done?

Almost - I made some alterations at the neckline, as detailed below.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Yep super easy, although I didn't need to even glance at them as I'd already made this top once already.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

A nice simple and quick top to sew.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

See my previous review for details of the fitting alterations I made to the pattern. The only major change in construction from the previous one was that I decided to stabilise the neckline, as the jersey I used was very lightweight. I used clear elastic, but put it in very badly the first time (think puckers all over the place and weird pointy bits at the shoulder seams) so had to rip it out. It went in better the second time, but I think in all the handling I managed to stretch the neckline, so it was bagging really really weirdly on one side at the front. I didn't want to rip it out and redo it again (and I figured that this would just make the stretching worse), so I decided to make a design feature and put in some pleats to take in the excess. I'm actually quite pleased with this rescue as the pleats ended up livening up a fairly plain top. Must remember to staystich in the future though...

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I would recommend it, and would recommend stabilising the neckline after cutting. I'm not entirely happy with the fit of either of the versions I've made - although I think that's more due to my construction than any fault of the pattern. It definitely works better in the more lightweight, drapey jersey. I might make it again, but I've got plenty of other tops I want to make first!


Another basic wardrobe builder done...

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Pattern review - jersey rose-print dress

Pattern description

Self-drafted casual dress, based on BWOF 04/2011/115. Loose fitting with gathers at front shoulder seams, elastic waist and side seam pockets.

Fabric used

Smooth jersey, I think it's probably polyester.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope when you were done?

I was about to trace off the aforementioned BWOF pattern, but wanted to make several changes and figured it would probably be quicker to simply draft it from scratch, especially as I wanted to practice more drafting. So, it looks kind of similar to the BWOF dress, but also kind of different!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Quick to sew (even quicker now I've sewn it up once).

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

From my blocks I added width at the side seams at waist and hip. The centre back waist was shaped slightly to avoid too much fullness, but all other waist darts were omitted, with the fullness gathered by the elastic. I extended the shoulders by about 1.5cm, and curved them slightly downwards. The neckline was lowered, and the shoulder dart rotated into gathers at the front shoulder. The bodice was lengthened by 7cm to give the drapey fullness, and side seam pockets were added.

Construction details

I would have serged it completely, but I'm not very good at going round corners on my serger (and this fabric was giving it fits for some reason), so the pieces are finished with the serger but sewn together with a narrow zigzag on my normal machine. If I had made this without pockets I would have serged it all. The neck and armscye edges are bound with self-fabric strips, cut on the stretchy grain (i.e. across the fabric). I did it this way rather than serging on folded strips as I wanted the contrast topstitching. I think the armholes ended up slightly tight under my arms, possibly due to the finishing being slightly inaccurate. As this is some sort of polyester, I'm slightly concerned this might mean it ends up a little, erm, stinky, but we'll see how that goes... I also had a little fun by putting in one of my new labels!

Would you sew it again?

Yes. I will probably make some slight alterations, but this is a very handy dress to have in a few colourways.


I'm very pleased with this dress. I need to make a selection of dresses that are comfy enough to wear around the house, but nice enough to not need to change if I need to pop out, and this certainly fits the bill. I will probably dress it up with a belt and nice jewellery for going out and about.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Haute couture dresses at Yverdon

I went to this exhibition back in March with my mum. It's a collection of one (unnamed) lady's dresses from 1950-1990, and is at the Musée Suisse de la Mode based at the château at Yverdon-les-Bains (it's on for another month, until 12 June). And it's amazing. The beautiful thing is that the clothes are not behind glass or barriers, so you can walk right up to them and inspect all the details. And you are allowed to take photos - I took lots (I spent about 40 minutes taking pictures...). I'm astounded how tiny this lady must have been, and also how she must have kept her figure throughout her life - the later clothes are no larger. I'm intrigued to know who she was and where she wore these dresses. Onto the pretties...!

Whilst she was here, we also visited Montreux and Château de Chillon, and it was absolutely beautiful. It was the first time I'd been to Montreux (apart from passing through in a train), and we were really lucky with beautiful weather and no crowds.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Pattern review - oversized T-shirt top

Not a very exciting garment/review, I'm afraid, but I'm wardrobe building at the moment!

Pattern description

Kwik Sew 3496, view A. Misses' pull-over tops. View A has boat neckline and elbow length dolman sleeves.

Pattern sizing

XS-XL (bust 31.5-45"). I cut the large.

Fabric used

Black cotton jersey.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope when you were done?

Yep, pretty much identical.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Super easy, you probably don't even need to follow them for this view!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

A nice simple and quick top to sew. It does come up very large though (even for a loose-fitting top), this is something I've found more than once with Kwik-Sew patterns.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

I made a sort of FBA to the front, and eased in the extra fullness created on the side seams. I made a small swayback adjustment to the back, but I think with this style of top I need to take in some of the fullness in the small of the back widthwise, but not really take out much length, as when this was belted and fluffed a bit, it became a bit short at the back. I shortened the top by about 4". I lowered the neckline about an inch in the front, and didn't stabilise the neckline as the jersey isn't super lightweight (and I couldn't be faffed), so we'll see how that holds up...

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I already have sewn it again! I've made it it a much lighter weight rayon jersey, I'll show that to you shortly. Yep, I would recommend it to others.


This top is ok, but it pulls backwards at the neck quite a lot, and I can't quite work out why. I think it's maybe that I took out too much length in the back, but it could also be that the jersey is a bit too heavy for this style, I'll see how it goes with the next version. However in general I'm pretty pleased with this for what it is - a basic useful top, which fills a hole in my wardrobe.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


You may have noticed a new widget having appeared over there on the right - I've signed up to Me-Made-June! Here's my pledge, which gives you an idea of what it is about:

I, Dilly, of dibulous.blogspot.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-June '11. I endeavour to wear at least one self-made or refashioned garment or accessory each day for the duration of June 2011.

The idea behind the wear-along is to challenge yourself to wear more of the clothes/accessories/etc you've made yourself/refashioned/etc, and is the brainchild of Zoe of So,Zo.... She's run three of these before, but I haven't joined in as I haven't felt I had enough self-made clothes/accessories to see me through a whole month. But lately I've been doing plenty of sewing, and have lots of plans for sewing in May so I think I will be fine. Got to practice taking pictures of myself though...

The obligatory royal wedding post...

Well, as a Brit (although living abroad), I gather I'm contractually obliged to comment on the royal wedding. And I have to say, despite being a staunch republican (in the British sense only!), I was absolutely glued to the TV the entire day...

However, not in the way that so many of the vox-pops on the news were expressing. It didn't make me particularly "proud to be British" (why would it? That confuses me). I didn't feel that somehow two rich and privileged young people getting married somehow gave the country hope (again, why would it?). No, I liked it for two reasons: empathy and voyeurism.

I have to admit to a little teariness as Catherine came down the aisle, and William said to her, "you look lovely, very beautiful" (probably anyway, courtesy of the lip-reading experts), but simply because they reminded me of myself and my husband and our wedding day. What, didn't you know we got married in Westminster Abbey in front of a global audience of millions, and I was wearing McQueen, and the Queen's tiara? Yeah, I don't mean that (I was of course wearing Vivienne Westwood, duh), but more that their story echoed ours - they met at university, lived together there, and have been together nearly ten years before getting married, just like us! I just loved the sheer genuine happiness that they both exuded, it was adorable.

As for voyeurism, who wouldn't want the chance to ogle the glamorous (and not so glamorous) fashion choices of some very rich ladies! These are my picks (mainly from what I observed on TV...!)

Low points:

Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice. These two always seem to make dreadful choices, it's very unfortunate. Apparently Eugenie was wearing Westwood, but the bodice shape and bows down the front made her look really rather dowdy, and the beigey colour that Beatrice chose washed her out completely (not to mention her odd hat).

SamCam and her lack of hat. WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?!

Camilla. Her outfit got lots of love from the BBC presenters, and was apparently the same designer as her own lovely wedding outfit. The colours and embroidery were very pretty, but I thought the placement of the colour change and embellishment around her hips with the very sharp pleats below this line made her look rather wide and shapeless. I think slightly more fitted with the embroidery line lowered a few inches would have been much more flattering. Her hat was nice though (Philip Treacy of course).

The Queen. Why does she wear such square clothes, and those horrible square hats? The colour was lovely though, and she did provide a high point on her arrival at the abbey, as she got out the car: "One doesn't need this blanket anymore - one will fling it on the floor."

Enough snarkiness and negativity, onto the high points:

Victoria Beckham. Embarrassing choice I know. Her dress (apparently from her own line) was weirdly shapeless and flattering at the same time, and how the hell did she wear those shoes whilst pregnant? But the hat was amazing.

Tara Palmer-Tompkinson. Another embarrassing choice, but she looked totally classy, and another amazing hat (OK, maybe the matching gloves and wrap were a bit much, but the dress and hat and shoes were great).

Paula Reed. Not even a guest at the wedding, but analysing the fashion choices of the guests for the BBC (she did a very cute squeal when it was confirmed that Catherine's dress was Sarah Burton), but her dress was just super. I loved the colour blocking of the patterns (pattern blocking?)

Update: She's wearing Pieter Pilotto. It appears to be the RTW version of this runway dress, but I can't find this particular one available anymore...

Karen Gordon (the Earl of Spencer's latest fiancée). I don't know how she saw anything from under her hat, but she looked super elegant.

Miriam González Durántez (Nick Clegg's wife). I think she's super hot, and whilst their were some fit issues with her dress, her hat looked stunning.

Philippa Middleton. Her matron of honour dress was beautiful - such a difficult shape of dress to wear, but looked stunning on her (and I so want to know what her underpinnings were. Not for any pervy reason of course, but so I can invest in something similar!). I also liked the buttons down the back, they prevented it being a coffin dress, and made it super sexy. It maybe could have done with being a centimetre or two shorter at the front as she had a couple of near trips. I noticed there was shock horror noises from some people (mainly Americans it seemed) that she was also wearing white, but in my mind this was no problem at all, and is actually quite normal for royal weddings - and looked much neater in the group with her sister and the baby bridesmaids. Her sister's dress was so spectacular and "bride-like" there was no chance of her upstaging it!

Update: Cidell has spotted that a knock-off pattern is already available!

Catherine Middleton. Well, analysis of her dress has been done to death, so here's one more! I loved her dress (apart from the unfortunate cold nipple effect). It wasn't exactly fashion-forward (it was blatantly a homage to Grace Kelly's wedding dress), and it was a long way from her usual more flowy and draped style, but it was elegant and timeless and very beautiful - not for her the embarrassing dated photos in ten years, like her late mother-in-law... I'm also hoping that it will curb the trend for strapless wedding dresses, so rarely flattering. My only issue was the tiara and veil - I thought the very simple veil had a hint of the dressing up box/net curtain about it, especially whilst it was over her face, and the dress and headgear didn't really seem to mesh together, although it definitely looked better once the veil was back rather than over her face. I also had issues with her being given away by her father (women as men's property...?!) but that's a whole other post.There's also huge amounts of pretty fascinating detail about the construction of the dress on the official website.

There also has to be special mention of the decorations inside Westminster Abbey - the freshness and simplicity of the floral decorations was beautiful, and I absolutely adored the trees lining the aisle, it looked like they were walking down a forest glade. Stunning.