Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sewing fuelled by chocolate

Though Easter has been fairly low-key in our household, I still awoke to find a little trail of yummy Cadbury chocolate eggs in the kitchen - thanks Mum...I mean, Easter Bunny. And it was much needed because today I set the goal of finishing that blue skirt. Remember that dress that was my first post about Vinnies on here? It's only taken me about 2 months to get around to making (and even though the fast approaching winter dictates I probably won't be wearing it for a while), but it's finally done!

You can see my post about the dress here, and the post about the jacket I made from it here.

To start off, who can resist a Home Improvement re-run on TV to keep them company?

Yep, the sewing machine has permanently stolen the dining room table.

For anyone interested in how the skirt came to be, here's what I did.

Back in February when I made the jacket half, all I did was unpick the top half from the bottom half.

Today I needed to take it in around the waist as there was far too much fabric, so I took in 10cm from either side, and curved it into the seam with a 15cm dart (sorry for those who have NO idea what I am talking about, but all I really mean is that I took it in from the top, and instead of taking it in all the way down the length of the dress, I curved it around to the edge 15cm down the seam. If you can see the yellow pinhead on the right of the fabric in the photo below, you can kind of see what I mean).

This probably wasn't the best method of doing things, but to make the waist band, I took this coloured piece of ribbon and measured it around my waist, cutting it off to the correct length. Then, I turned the skirt inside out and folded over the raw edge (this is where the ribbon would be placed). As there is so much fabric in the skirt, it meant I had to gather the fabric to the length of the waistband, so I went along, pinning so that the bunching was fairly even all the way around.

I sewed this into place, and then flipped the edge over again so that the ribbon was encased inside the fabric, sewing this into place. This was where the workmanship became a little dodgy as you would usually hand-sew this into place so that you didn't see the machine stitch on the right side of the fabric. However, as the thread is blue, you can't really see it, and as the fabric is quite bunchy, the machine stitching is much stronger to hold it in place than hand-sewing would be.

Below is a photo of the zip I used. I would've usually gone for a royal blue zip considering the colour of the fabric, but as this was a rather spontaneous project for the day, this aqua zip was the best I could find. If it makes it any better, the aqua actually matches the colour of the flowers on the fabric :)

Once this was sewn in, I hand-sewed in a hook and eye to catch in the top of the zip so it wouldn't gape. Although the skirt was originally meant to be a longer, "maxi" skirt, in reality, it was quite an awkward length, so I took up about a 10cm wide hem on the bottom and hand-stitched this into place. 

And finally, here's the finished product! The fabric has a beautiful flow to it and you can't see it in the photo, but there is pleating in the fabric which looks fantastic.

And just to finish off this picture/writing heavy post, who can forget the Fanta spider that kept me going? Yep, I can already feel my teeth rotting but it was well worth it!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A little book of inspiration

If like me, you are a magazine addict, you'll know that after a while, they start to pile up. As much as I'm sure I would have loved to have looked back on the Barbie magazines I had as a kid, some things just have to go. 

A Harpers Bazaar magazine I bought a couple of years back came with a little book with a black felt embossed cover, full of blank pages to fill. Whilst it saddens me to throw out my mags, I now stick my favourite pics into this book. It saves a lot of room and it's so great to have all inspiring pics in one place. Some people suggest using an exercise book, but quite frankly, I find them too boring and uninspiring in themselves, so try and find a notebook you love for yourself.

This little beauty always has me flicking through the pages. Here are a few pages from my book.

On another note, today has been rather dark and rainy, so what better way to kick off the fast approaching winter than with a cup of tea, some cosy boots and my dearest latest issue of Frankie magazine in a comfy armchair. True love.

P.S. Please don't forget to vote for me in the Best Australian Blogs People's Choice Award! The link is on the sidebar to the right. Thanks so much to everyone who has already voted - you guys are champs as always :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Raceday Style

With friends in the UK attending the Royal Ascot, I was asked to write a post on what to wear for the races.

So I looked up the dress code on the website and it stated the following: "Her Majesty’s Representative wishes to point out that only formal day dress with a hat or substantial fascinator will be acceptable. Off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch and miniskirts are considered unsuitable. Midriffs must be covered and trouser suits must be full length and of matching material and colour."

Okay, so whilst this was for the "Royal Enclosure" which I am pretty sure they won't be in (but do correct me if I'm wrong!), I think most of us can take away something from this dress code.

EDIT: They are in the Royal Enclosure - Aussie royalty or what?! Have the best time Jess, Megan and Chloe, and good luck finding a suitable dress.

Living not far from a racecourse myself, I'm accustomed to seeing women stumbling home drunk, their skirts barely covering their backsides and their heels no longer on their feet, but rather slung over their shoulders. Not a good look if you ask me.

I've put together some style tips to ensure that your next day out at the races is a classy one, so listen up!

1. Long sheer-sleeved dresses
I personally adore these types of dresses because they just ooze style. They don't have to be boring - I found this Bettina Liano dress in Myer not long ago and its bright pink colour really makes it pop. Looking back, I wish I'd bought it!

2. Fuller 50s style frocks
Okay. So you don't want to look like some backwards looking conservative, but 50s style dresses are a really fun and flirty way that ensure you won't be tugging down your dress hem all day. You can opt for a traditional floral fabric or just choose plain black - one of the nicest dresses I've ever seen was a plain black full-skirt dress. Very a la Audrey. 

3. Lace boleros
Again, don't think that choosing a bolero is going to make you a dag. If you have a bit of tuckshop-mumma arms going on, try and find a lace bolero. Here's one my friends bought me for my birthday last year from Bardot - great to go with going-out dresses, but you can even wear it with jeans for a less-formal occasion.

4. Gloves
This fits in with the 50s style dress, but you can really wear gloves with any raceday outfit. Small white ones look great with vintage style dresses whilst long black satin gloves suit a LBD (little black dress for those of you who don't know) and pearls. Just make sure they fit in with the rest of your outfit - you don't want to look like you're supposed to be at a fancy-dress party.

5. And last but definitely not least... don't forget the flats!
Nothing spoils an outfit more than grubby bare-feet, so to make sure you aren't stuck in those blistering heels all day, pack some flats. You can buy some of those fold-up ones from stores like Bloch or GAP so you can fit them in your bag. I even remember those little slip ons called "Jiffies" that I'm sure a lot of you had when you were younger, so if you can find some of them, they definitely look better than nothing.

If you're still struggling to decide on what to wear, take away some tips from these stylish ladies...

Kate Middleton - royal-soon-to-be Kate Middleton really knows how to dress. Who can look past that royal blue dress, tailored blazer and Dior-like hat?

Jackie Onassis - wife of 1960s President John F. Kennedy, Jackie was the epitome of authentic vintage style. Pillbox hats, oversized sunglasses and pearls... she had it all!

Natalie Portman - the petite celebrity exhibits some of the most beautiful dresses. Who can forget the white Givenchy dress? We can only wish we could have one of our own!

Emma Watson - from the bushy-haired Hermione Granger in the first Harry Potter movie, 21-year old Emma Watson (face of Burberry) has become a young style icon for many. 

Audrey Hepburn - do I even need to explain this one?

My blog has been entered in the Sydney Writers' Centre "Best Australian Blog" awards. I'd love it if you could please please please vote for me! You can do this by following the links once you click on the badge on the sidebar of this page, or by following this link -

Many thanks, Laura x

Saturday, April 2, 2011

"You see these red wine lips?"

Actress Camilla Belle adds some old Hollywood glamour to her look.

J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye has proven to embody ideas that have outlasted my study of it as a related text for last year's HSC English. 

Although many would doubt that Holden's endless bouts of swearing would have any relevance to our own lives (though I'm sure some would like to argue me on that point), without going too deep and meaningful on you, his sense of adolescent confusion is something I'm sure myself and many of my peers can relate to.

Like Holden, we're at that stage where we are technically not children (though Holden was at 17 years of age... but close enough!), but we're still teenagers. We were the kings of all the school-kids not so long ago, but now we're the first-year "babies" at uni. How are we supposed to act? To look? To dress?

Though not something at the top of everyone's concerns, make-up and cosmetics also come into play - more specifically, red lipstick (quoting Lisa Mitchell's lyrics in the title did have a point!)

For me, the good old red lippie was something usually reserved for those crazy old cat ladies that take their application of lipstick a little too high up from the edges of their mouths. Or clowns for that matter.

The stunning Margherita Missoni

But in recent times, it has become the epitome of youthful chic. More and more, I was seeing how incredible it looked on friends. Simple hair and smoky eyes, the red lip really added a glamourous 'pop'.

Lauren Young, 18, (or should I say, the red lipstick queen) agrees with the idea that red lippie can really spice up an outfit.

"I find that adding a splash of red lipstick to an otherwise simple outfit (say a simple black dress) adds an extra element to an outfit, an extra bit of 'wow-factor'.

"Red lipstick is also great when you're going out for your second/third night out on the town, when you tend to have "tired" eyes, as all the attention is drawn to your lips, which look fuller and "poutier", which adds a bit of sex appeal."

Emma Dowsett, 18, is also one of the growing number of teens popularising red lipstick. Although she says it's more of an "occasional thing", she highlights that this in itself keeps people guessing, "bringing an element of surprise to whatever you're wearing!"

"When you go out it's something that sets you apart, and has the additional benefit of adding a little 'Coco Chanel Rouge' chic to any outfit."

And so seems to be the trend after the 2010 advertisement of the product in a commercial starring Vanessa Paradis. Who wouldn't want to add a little Chanel class to their look?

The ad campaign for Chanel's Rouge Coco

Once a sceptic, I think I am now a convert. It's not something I plan to be parading down the street with in my trackie pants, but choosing the right shade really can add some glamour to any evening look. 

Just keep it simple to avoid anyone thinking you belong to the circus. Let your lips do the talking!

P.S. As usual, a poll at the bottom to let me know what you think. Are you a fan of the red lippie?