Saturday, 28 February 2015

Flamingo Mini Satchel

This was a commission from my sister. She likes bright pastels, so I selected a few fabrics and she chose this fabulous flamingo pattern. 

Because it is soooo bright we decided not to have a patterned interior. So its plain hot pink, with sneaky bit of flamingo in the zipped pocket. I made the strap adjustable and extra long as she wants to be able to wear it crossbody. Final touch is the pink piping. I lurrve piping. Have I said that already?!!

Also, I'm not sure I ever posted about this little bag. If I did I apologise. My camera can't quite capture the colour of the green but I've tried again. Its a linen blend in a Melody Miller retro telephones fabric. Piped with pink. 

The interior is a sort of lilac, and the pocket fabric is butterflies. 

Friday, 27 February 2015

Voodoo Vixen Tilly dress (and a little photobomber)

I have quite a few Voodoo Vixen dresses. I will try and post on each with a relatively decent picture, which I can do now I have actually fixed the mirror to the bedroom wall (its only taken me 5 years!)

This is probably the one I wear the most. Its the Tilly dress, which of course is now available in plus sizes. I wear their 1XL (previously 2XL as they changed their sizing) This is pretty much equivalent to a UK 18-20, or a 42-37.5-48 if you want to know my measurements.

When I first got it, I was a bit disappointed. It was a bit gapey, even though I am not particularly well endowed in the chest department (I'm a C cup on a good day). The waist seemed too low and it just didn't fit well. (I am short waisted though, it is worth pointing out)

I thought I'd try to remedy the gape by just sewing up the front (The buttons are not functional as there is a zip up the side, so I'm not entirely sure why it needs to open at the front)

Bingo! Perfect fit. That was all it needed - 5 minutes of hand sewing the left side of the dress to the right side. No more gape and it seems to have made it fit better at the waist. Hurrah!

So sometimes I wear a belt. Others not. Also some days I bother to brush my hair. Clearly that has not happened here...

The great thing about VV dresses, is the fabric. You don't always get this in the repro-vintage market. Some brands use really cheap fabric and you can feel it.
The quality of Tilly is excellent - what you get is a stretch cotton that is moderately weighty, so it feels like its supporting you. I always feel modestly covered in a VV dress - nothing is hanging out or about to escape. They also tend to have matching cardis if you feel so inclined.

I did try to take a couple of selfies, but Noah was determined to get in on the action LOL

Monday, 23 February 2015

On the subject And dodgy toes.

**WARNING** if you don't like to see peoples toes and minor injuries, don't scroll down!!

So. Shoes. I haven't really posted about shoes before, which is frankly a bit strange, since I'm a bit of a shoe addict. I think its probably because I'm a secret hoarder. Well I'm bringing it out into the open now!

In recent weeks I seem to have bought a few pairs. I have probably omitted some because, yes, I actually forget what I've bought.

This first pair are some cute Rocket Dog slingbacks I got on ebay. They are very nearly new. And they are not all that comfy. Bah! The fabric at the front is quite stiff, and you can feel the layers they've used for the lacing insert. I may just have to re-list these.

Comfort is a bit of an issue these days. After an unfortunate getting-my-foot-caught-in-bike pedal trauma injury to my big toe, I now have arthritis. My left big toe not only causes me ongoing pain, but the middle joint doesn't bend any more. Luckily it doesn't really need to - I just have to be careful what I wear.

I sold a LOT of my shoes after the doctor advised me not to wear heels (many Iron Fist beauties included) but I decided that as long as they were comfy enough, I would wear heels on occasion, because I'm not dead yet...

So on the subject of too-high-heels, I succumbed to these Miss L Fire wedges recently. It was very bad of me. I just loved the vintagey styling, and the fact that they are black means that I can pair them with bright dresses. 
They are:
a) too expensive (although I got them on sale they were still twice my budget)
b) too high
Sometimes though, you just have to go with it. They are very comfy for the height, and wide enough for me, but I paid the price after dancing around in these all night...

...Evidence of dodgy dancing - someone actually got us on you tube...

Heels induced injury #1 - broken toe nail. This is going to take FOREVER to grow out.

Heel induced injury #2 - bruised nail. This is also going to take FOREVER to grow out. I am praying that the nail stays on but I think it will. This is my toe-of-pain so I didn't notice the bruising until I took off my nail varnish because that toe always throbs a bit anyway. Hmm.

I digress. Lets move on to SENSIBLE footwear. Last year, I bought some rocket dog jazzin' pumps which I loooove. I wore them all summer because they looked cute with all my pretty summer dresses, and my feet were comfy. Nice and wide they are. Nice and filthy now too. 

When Rocket dog had a sale recently therefore, I couldn't help it. I bought them in leopard. The downside is that they probably won't go with my dresses. Ah well never mind! Will just wear with plain jeans and trousers. 

I have always been a fan of fitflop. Not for the toning nonsense. I don't believe any of that for a nanosecond, but because of the comfort factor. 

They are smashing for just slipping on and heading out. I am a massive fan of them. These were in the sale at Shoetique. So I bought - because they were £30 and that's not a bad price for fitflops. 

We're off to Menorca in August, and I will probably just take these and my rubber crocs (pic below fitflops) which I bought last year in the sale and which are also incredibly comfortable and weigh nothing. 

Finally. We go back into not-very-sensible territory. 

Its my mother in laws wedding in August. I saw these Irregular Choice heels on ebay and decided they would be mine. Bid on them. Forgot about it. Won.  
I have owned Irregular Choice (and Poetic Licence) shoes in the past, and in general, I have to say that they are amazing, but not comfortable. There is generally no/minimal padding on the ball of the foot area and they are constructed in very 'hard' materials. However they are usually wide enough for my feet to fit (my feet are fairly standard sized but I go for an 'E' fitting if availalbe)

My intention is to get or make a violet/purple dress to go with, and make a matching bag with similar accents (gold piping, purple and ivory flowers).
The best feature is the heels. I love these heels. I did think the shoes were green when I bought them (the picture on ebay made them look green - see bottom pic) but they aren't. They are a straw colour. That's fine. I can live with that!
They are too high for me to wear for any prolonged period comfortably. I know this already. Bit I will take the flipflops with me and change. Because I'm wearing these and I don't care!!


Friday, 20 February 2015

Happy Birthday Holly!

Its half term at the moment, so I haven't got much time to fit in sewing, but I did manage one thing!

I have three gorgeous nieces (two from my sister in law, and one from my sister), and I made this after my sis saw this fabric I posted and said Holls would love it (if you recall I purloined it from the Voodoo Vixen stand at London Edge - they were using it to cover the bar)

I needed a quick sew, so I opted to try this Mabel bag - a vintage style free pattern by Swoon. 

I'm not going to lie - it uses a very stiff stabilser and getting it through my machine was hard work, but I really love the outcome (yes the front is slightly wonky - lets overlook that for now)

Apparently there is one nine year old that loves it too!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Bag of the Month - Companion Carpet Bag

This year I decided to join the bag of the month club. Basically, its a bag pattern download club - you don't know which patterns you are going to get in advance - its all a bit secret (although you do know which designers are contributing)

I am already behind, but I did finally get the January bag finished!
January - Samantha from Sewing Patterns with Mrs H designed this Companion Carpet Bag (mine is in the smaller size)

I used some of my Cath Kidston fabric for this. Clocks for the outside, floral for the inside.
There is one zip pocket and two slot pockets. There is also an external pocket with a magnetic closure.

I used premade bias binding to make the green piping. 

Looking at it, I think maybe I should have put it along the top edge between the contrast and the main fabric, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. The straps are pre-made. I've not used those before so this was a first.

Overall I'm really happy with it. I love the frame feature and I already have taken an order for another one of these (this one sold straight away)

Friday, 6 February 2015

Some words on the cost of handmade

So, before I get my next bag finished, let me have muse over the price of materials - and therefore the price of handcrafted goods a.k.a justifying my prices.

Its expensive to 'make stuff'. It just is. Even though these days you can buy many things direct from China it still costs a lot of money for hardware (all those bits of metal - fastenings, rings, frames and so on as well as zips and thread etc).
Interfacing in particular is shocking - and every bag needs at least one type, usually two types of interfacing/stabiliser in order to keep its shape. Bag handles - the premade kind - are approximately a tenner a pop.

Then lets factor in the time and care that goes into 'making stuff'. I charge for my time, otherwise what would be the point (to be honest I'd still make bags even if I did not profit slightly, but lets gloss over that!). I don't charge much. In fact I undercharge in order to make it somewhere in the reasonable' bracket. £7.50 an hour is just over minimum wage but thats all I feel I can ask in order to make a small profit on top of my hardware costs.

Fabric is so pricey in the UK - the 'good stuff' i.e. a good quality cotton with a great design retails - and these are usually American designers - at about £12 a metre. This is why I don't make frocks for people - just for me and even then not that often. There are a few small businesses out there doing this (and presumably they can get their fabric at trade reductions) but their prices do reflect this (e.g. Victory Parade, Get Cutie, Old Sea Dog, British Retro)

So lets venture into clothing, purely because I am able to make comparisons and give and example on that.
The larger companies (lets say Voodoo Vixen, Hell Bunny, Collectif) that specialise in the kind of new vintage stuff I like to wear - they are able to get fabrics at seriously rock bottom prices. They can source crazy cheap fabric from Asia. However there are still problems. When I was at the London Edge trade fair on Sunday, I became aware that many of the Voodoo Vixen dresses average about £12 wholesale (these sell from £40-£60 retail) which begs the question how much do they pay to have one dress manufactured? Not much. And how much are the factory workers paid to manufacture these garments. Probably a pittance.
I know that the Voodoo Vixen designer sources the fabric from China, and has the designs made up there, which is a great headache for her from a distance and language barrier point of view, but also she would love the brand to be purely British. Its just not commercially feasible. They cannot compete with other similar marketed brands if they can't keep the costs down. From to design to final production is long and protracted because of the aforementioned issues - something that would take minutes to sort out face-to-face can take weeks. They have their own problems just because they DONT produce British.
I have to say though that from experience, the quality of Voodoo Vixens fabric is very good - the cotton they use is thick and has a bit of stretch which is perfect for the retro style. Frankly they must be charged so little for it it kills me, but there are certain companies in the same vein for which I have found quality has been compromised. I will not name here.

Example. When I did some shopping in in Goldhawk lane last year, I found the some fabric I'd seen used for a Hell Bunny dress (Maui) - £25 for 5 metres. This is actually a great bargain in fabric terms for the general public. £5 a metre is cheap.

However -  Lindy Bop now use this very same fabric, and are selling this dress - not just with the hibiscus fabric, but with PIPING! I bl**dy love piping. ...

£29.99 - its crazy cheap. And they do often run discount codes on top of that. I cannot make a dress for that price. (Remember I use plenty of cotton thread as well as fabric, plus zip etc)  Why would I even bother on my time restrictions? For a couple of quid more, I can buy one someone else has gone to the trouble of making. The satisfaction of 'me-made' is not there of course. But then the blood, sweat and tears of hand sewing a garment isn't either.

So what would you rather have? A mass-made product that you are likely to see other people wearing (but not in my town LOL) or a one-off made to measure by someone. The same goes with bags - would you rather have a bag that is cheap and functional and possibly quite lovely, but owned by hoards of other folk, or something completely unique and made with love and care?

For me, I don't mind a bit of both. I'm not made of money. I'd love to buy handmade all the time, but its not financially feasible. There is something wonderful though, about knowing that no-one else has your bag. And supporting a small business that is trying so hard to make a living doing something they love. So please think about that when you gasp at the price of handmade. Its not a rip off. Its a fair price.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

London Edge - Voodoo Vixen Team - no craft to report!

On Sunday I was invited by Voodoo Vixen to promote their clothing by basically walking around in one of their beautiful dresses and handing out flyers. Hardly going to say no was I!

I did this back in September 2014 with Helen (middle left) and Sarah (middle right) and it was great fun. This time we were joined by the gorgeous Sarah K (far left) who is such a sweetheart. 

I hadn't yet had my hair or face done in this photo!!

Also at London Edge representing VV were a vast number of bloggers who had been invited as VIPs to the day and evening events.
Met lots of lovely girls having a wonderful time. Everyone got a free frock and their hair and make up done. Seriously the MUAs and hair team did not stop all day!

See that fabric covering the 'bar'. I blagged that. Had my eye on it for about a year since I saw it in the VV office. It will become a pencil skirt and some bags. Thank you soooo much gals :)

I took my Vivian panda handbag for me, and spotted lovely Frenchie L'amour at the Pinup Academy stall, wearing a matching dress by Victory Parade.

 asked her for a quick photo with my bag. Does she not look adorable?! I did hand out a few business cards for She Wears Red Feathers whilst I was there :)

The team had laid on two old style London buses to get everyone from Olympia to the Gem Bar in Soho for the aftershow party. Awesome way to travel. 

The Voodoo Vixen team on the bus...

...and in full party swing. We are all wearing Voodoo Vixen dresses available in sizes up to 4XL. And yes, you can see my underwear. Good job its nude coloured! I am also now a pink frock convert.

Awesome day had by all. Free bar so you can imagine the state of my old bones on Monday. I did take the day off work, obviously! Back to normality now - I may even get some sewing done this week!