Going vintage for the Goodwood Revival

Hello from a very damp Scotland! I’m currently in Fort William, in the western highlands, and it’s utterly spectacular (even when it’s pissing down). We’ve had a whirlwind two weeks, driving from London down to the south coast before heading north through Wales and the Lake District to Scotland. Tomorrow we head to Skye and then to the Outer Hebrides later in the week, which I’m very excited about! If you follow me on instagram you’ll know that we went to the Goodwood Revival while we were down south. I know I’ve mentioned it on here before, but in short it’s a vintage motorsport event which celebrates British racing history from the 40’s through to the 70’s, and Hamish has wanted to attend for as long as I’ve known him. I’m not really interested in Motorsport at all, but dressing up in period gear is pretty much mandatory at the Revival, so I knew there would be something to interest me there!


As it was in September in England I decided that separates (with trousers) would be a sensible option. I was briefly tempted to make a 1940s rayon day dress, but I very glad that I stuck with my original plan because the weather turned after lunch and it got rather cold and wet! I was still under dressed (could have done with some gumboots and an umbrella), but I was very glad not to be in a flimsy dress…


Both patterns are from Wearing History, the Smooth Sailing Blouse, and the Homefront Overalls. Obviously these aren’t overalls, but there is a classic 1940’s trouser pattern included! The shirt is made in a Liberty Tana Lawn, and it was really fun to put together. The lawn gathered beautifully, and made it really easy to sew the gathered front and back to the yoke, and to set in those big puff sleeves in. I was a bit concerned about the size of those sleeves and the collar, they would be all balanced out by a big 1940’s hairdo but obviously that wasn’t an option for me! It was definitely the look that I was going for though, so I carried on. I used red shell buttons which match the roses, but you can barely see them in these pictures because I forgot to put my sunglasses back in my bag. I was still hoping I might need them again that afternoon…


The trousers are made out of a fairly heavy brushed twill, also from The Fabric Store. I really like the colour, though perhaps I should have picked a less camouflaging backdrop to have my photos in front of! The trousers were very simple to put together, but I should have picked a size smaller as they came out absolutely huge initially. I ended up taking them in at the pleats and darts, and at the front and back crotch seams to get them to fit. I couldn’t mess with the side seams because I added a grown-on button placket to get in and out of them instead of using a lapped zip. 


The overalls close with a button placket, but I had only printed the trouser pieces so I improvised. It wasn’t difficult to add a curved placket piece to the side seam, but it did make it more difficult to take them in.


I faced the waistband and placket with the scraps of Liberty left over from the shirt to reduce bulk, and I think it looks really cute! The trousers are definitely a vintage fit, with a much lower crotch than modern trouser patterns. It took a bit of getting used to, but they were very comfortable. I always forget how different the proportions of vintage clothes can be! Both patterns went together beautifully, and though the instructions were a bit more sparse than some indie brands they were clear and perfectly adequate. 


To finish off my kind-of Land Girl outfit I wore my brown heeled oxfords and a cream cardigan, and a silk headacarf borrowed from my friend Lauren to cover up my non-era-appropriate haircut. I also took the straw bag that Hamish gave me for Christmas a few years ago. It just matched so perfectly that I couldn’t not take it, but to be honest it was a pain in the arse! A bag with a shoulder strap would have been much better, I’m sure that the reason I got hardly any photos of the event is because one hand was constantly occupied with my bag. I’ll need to remember that for next time…


Hamish was attired even more practically, I was jealous of his tweed jacket when the rain set in! I thought I could pinch some of his photos, as he took loads, but of course they were all of the cars rather than the other attendees! It was pretty amazing though, a scroll through the #goodwoodrevival2017 hashtag on instagram gives a pretty good overview. Some people had such amazing authentic vintage gear, it was awesome to see it out being worn.


I’m hoping to get some photos of other things I made for this trip in some dramatic Scottish locations, hopefully I can get some good shots! 

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Biggish smalls

One of the hardest things I find about dressing up in vintage (or vintage inspired) clothing is finding the right undergarments. Have you tried to find a nude coloured slip lately? One that isn’t a suck-it-in job, or made of terrible polyester, or one thats longer than upper thigh length? Maybe its just Wellington, but I never seem to be able to find what I need! Happily, I can make my own vintage inspired underthings, and play around with some different techniques while I’m at it!

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I had planned to just make up a pattern for a slip, its not exactly a difficult shape! Then the January version of Seamwork magazine came out, and I decided to just lengthen the Savannah Camisole. I cut the pattern at the lengthen/shorten line, and inserted the extra length I wanted to bring it to just below my knees. I found some nude cotton/lycra in the Fabric Warehouse sale, so that was handy! The whole thing only took an hour to cut out and stitch, so the quickfire patterns promised in Seamwork do seem to be fast!

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I didn’t add lace, because I didn’t want it to show through my chiffon dress. Instead, I bound the arm holes and neckline with self bias tape, which extended into the straps. To make things a little bit less utilitarian, I tried my hand at some hemstitching, guided by the tutorial in the same issue of Seamwork. A single winged needle has been sitting in my sewing caddy since I first borrowed my machine from Nana, and I never knew what it was for until now!

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My antique Bernina doesn’t have a huge number of fancy stitches, so I sewed two rows next to each other. It was quite a chore to try to get every third and fourth stitch through the same holes as the row above, but I managed! I should have used a machine embroidery thread instead of just standard cotton, but I still think it looks pretty. Delicate and understated, and not going to show through my dress!

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The other undergarment I’ve finished this week are a pair of white silk/lycra tap pants, possibly the oldest unfinished object in my sewing room! I started these in a sewing class nearly two years ago, but ran out of time to finish them. They’ve languished in a drawer ever since, very slack of me! When I tried on my cream linen Holly Trousers, I realised I would need more than just nude underwear underneath, so I dug these out to see what needed to be finished on them.

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All they needed were the snaps and hook and eye to be sewn onto the placket! I was so happy! The sewing definitely leaves a lot to be desired, but its nice to see how much I’ve improved since I made these. I think they were probably my first attempt at french seams, so they’re better finished than a lot of my early efforts!

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I feel like I should excuse the rubbish photography in this post, it was a very gloomy weekend in Wellington! The pale fabrics I used were super difficult to photograph against our white walls, and I couldn’t get my camera to focus for a full length shot of the slip. Annoying, but at least its only a boring slip not a gorgeous dress I spent weeks on!

Frills and (potential) fails

I have a big weekend this weekend! Its the Wellington annual swing dancing extravaganza, and its going to be awesome! Four days of classes and workshops, four nights of themed balls and all night after parties. The Saturday night ball has a 1950’s theme (the theme of the whole weekend is Back to the Future, because its October 2014, of course) and I realised last week that I hadn’t put any thought into what I was planning to wear to any of the events. So…

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Complete with Stepford smile!

…before you get too excited, I didn’t make the dress. I borrowed it off one of my lovely friends. I did, however, make…

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…the petticoat! I know, its a bit of a soft option, but last week I was stuck at work late every day, and my last assignment was due of Suday, so I didn’t have much time for sewing. And I was really hopeful that I might have my Malu coat finished, but I’ve hit a bit of a block with that, so no joy (more on that later).

I’ve never sewn with tulle before, and I don’t think I’ll be in a big rush to do so again! What a pain in the arse! At one point, it looked like I had exploded the Royal Ballet in my sewing room. Monsieur wandered in to see what I was up to, looked around in horror and then slowly backed out of the room again. Anyway, I used a pretty basic petticoat ‘pattern’. I measured the length of the skirt (25″), decided I would make life easy by having a 5″ wide panel of chiffon around the waist, and cut 10″ wide strips of tulle for the floofy part of the skirt. I found the blush coloured chiffon in the scrap bin at The Fabric Warehouse for $5, it had some pretty major flaws in it but there was plenty of fabric to get the waistband out of it. I doubled it over, to strengthen it up a bit, and ran some elastic around the top. Each layer is twice as long as the one above it, so the chiffon layer is 1m long (sorry for the mixed units!) and the next tulle layer is 2m, and the bottom layers are 4m. Easy peasy!

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It was really difficult to photograph, its so…ephemeral

I decided that I needed two layers of tulle in the bottom layer, as the cotton of the dress is quite heavy, and I wasn’t getting the fullness I wanted at the bottom of the skirt. More gathering! I wanted to cry a little (I was very tired). Happily, I realised just before I started that Nana had bought a gathering foot for her machine, so that made everything so much easier. It has a hole through the length of the footplate which you thread a length of cord through, then sew with a zig zag stitch and it keeps the cord perfectly centred! It was brilliant, I don’t think I could have brought myself to do another layer if I was just sewing lines of basting stitches…

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No petticoat….petticoat!

I’m looking forward to dancing the night away in my floofy dress! Though I must remember to wear a slip under it, that tulle is bloody scratchy…

Also, if anyone is interested in the type of dancing I do, this is it! Balboa, being danced by two of the incredible teachers we have coming to teach this weekend. Can’t wait for their classes!

So, sewing oracles of the internet, I need some advice. This is my unfinished Malu coat so far

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I’ve done all the construction work, except for the sleeve cuffs, hem and topstitching, and I just feel like it isn’t fitting in a very flattering way! I’ve already shortened it to mid thing, as I looked like I was drowning in the knee length version. I would take the curved shaping at the hips, but then I’m afraid I won’t be able to sit down in it! Looking at these photos, I wonder if I just need to take in the the centre back seam and put some shaping in it? I don’t wan’t it to be too fitted, or it will be restricting to movement, but I also don’t want it to look like a ski jacket. Help, please and thank you!

Buttons!

Look what I bought today…

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Cute vintage buttons! I love vintage buttons, I always have to rifle through shoe boxes of them when I find them in second hand shops. I’ve been looking for one to go with the fabric I’ve bought for my Afternoon Blouse, I wanted either navy or mustard to bring out those colours in the fabric. I also wanted something fairly art deco, to match the pattern. In the end, I narrowed it down to these sets…

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I like the yellow ones (I especially like how they’re described on the button card!), but I think the navy ones will go better with the fabric. The oval shape will reflect the curves in the print (or something like that). What do you think?

I also found these gorgeous little glass buttons with yellow flowers and a matching belt buckle! They’re so cute, I’m going to put them on a dress for Art Deco weekend next year (a brief explanation of Art Deco Weekend in this post). I just need to find the perfect fabric to match…

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Newly blue shoes

I’m home! Technically this project was finished before I went on holiday, but I saved it for this weeks’ post because I knew I wouldn’t get a chance to do anything else while I was away.

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I found this pair of 1960’s shoes in a vintage store in Wellington a few weeks ago, and I really liked the shape. Unfortunately, the olive-ish/brown-ish colour made my feet look dead (too pale for that colour, apparently!) and doesn’t really go with anything I wear. So I bought myself some navy leather dye, and decided to give them a wee makeover. First, I removes the laces, then I scrubbed the shoes and rubbed them down with alcohol to clean them and remove any polish still clinging to them. I don’t know if that was the best way to do it, but the dye I chose didn’t come with a stripping medium (I found out later that some brands do). Once they were dry, I tested a small patch of dye on a hidden bit of the tongue. I was a bit worried that they would turn out green if the dye didn’t completely cover the existing colour, but it looked like a few layers would turn them navy.

20140225-173740.jpg After one coat- I was pretty sure I had ruined them at this point!

I painted them with about 4 layers of dye, giving each coat a chance to dry in the sun before applying the next one. I probably should have given them more time to dry, but I’m impatient, and I wanted to see what the final colour would look like.

20140225-174102.jpg Some Wellington sunshine, about time!

I was a bit disappointed with the finish on the shoes when they were dry, they had that slightly copper sheen that you get when you colour something in with a black or navy sharpie. However, once I gave them a good polish, that went away, and they became a lovely shiny navy. To finish them off, I used a navy grosgrain ribbon in place of the brown laces.

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Pretty spiffy! And a much better colour against my pasty legs…

I wore them out for the first time on Friday night at Art Deco weekend, for a spot of dancing. They were pretty comfortable, and the smooth, hard soles were perfect for spinning on the brick footpaths we used as a dance floor! Art Deco weekend was amazing, as usual, though it got very hot on Saturday (35ish degrees! Ridiculous!) My Gin and Tonic Jasmine blouse had its first outing on Sunday, for the Gatsby picnic, and I wore my refashioned cloche all three days. I even managed to get Monsieur into a cravat! I think not wearing a tie was an appealing option, in that heat…

20140225-175126.jpg I even found a vintage car to match my outfit!