24 October 2013

bias cut silk velvet slip dress

I was very taken by the sumptuous glamour of Louis Vuitton's Fall/ Winter 2013-14 show. Dainty floral silk slips worn as evening dresses, 70s boudoir heels, black lace detailing, fluffy vanity cases and sultry, sexy hues of charcoal, mauve, coffee and pale silver. Winter is so often dominated by sobriety and androgynous cuts; I'm glad to see an injection of colour and assured femininity into this winter. I love the slip worn as a daytime look. It playfully alludes to the night, but not the cold harshness we associate winter nights. It evokes luxury, cosiness and sensuality and is grown-up without being dull.

Here is my version, available at Asos Marketplace, and on Etsy (with customisable options) in sizes UK 6 to UK 12 --

The dress is made from a lustrous 100% silk velvet in a rich purple tone. Geometric inserts on the side panel contrast with the slinky bias cut and soft fabric.

I love how the silk catches the light. It looks different from every angle and would be a fabulous piece for the festive season (thinking far ahead, I know!). And the bias cut means there's a little extra give, perfect for the season of overeating.

How would you choose to style the slip dress?

Alix x

1 October 2013

pleated tartan mini skirt

We've all heard the news that tartan is back. I was skeptical for a while; after all, one can end up looking like a member of t.a.T.u or at the other extreme, Clarissa Dickson Wright (a lively and robust woman but by her own admission not a fashion forerunner). And I couldn't make a tartan skirt without a nod to the 90s, this time in the guise of Cher from Clueless. Kudos to any blond who manages to pull off wearing canary yellow --

I was after a school games skirt look - to think that I would ever be nostalgic for the hideous hockey skirt of my school years! - hence the choice of navy and emerald tartan. You can just get a peak of my new friend, who has kindly agreed to model for me. Meet Brunhilde, who I found hiding away in the back of a charity shop!

Making the pleated culottes this summer I realised just how time consuming and faffy pleating can be. But tartan has the wonderful property of providing a pre-printed grid, which hugely speeds up making nice straight pleats and also cutting in straight and perfectly on-grain lines! This project was pretty breezy (no kilt pun intended) and cheap to boot.

The hardest part was calculating the number of pleats and the width of the waistband. I used the fabric and worked backwards to the pattern. This is because I wanted to avoid the green vertical stripe showing so that the pleated section was predominantly blue, which meant a slightly fernickety pleat width of 2.63cm. And I had to have an odd number of pleats so that the front section could be one pleat wider. When the skirt block is drafted the side seam is usually shifted up to 1.5cm to the back - it just looks nicer this way, and makes your behind look smaller - so half the length of a pleat, i.e. 1.3cm, on either side was about right. I wanted a thickish waist band so I settled on 29 pleats, finished length 76.3cm, which was nicely just above the hip bones. I used my skirt block for the waistband closing the darts to make single front and back yokes that would keep the tartan pattern visually intact. When cutting I matched the pattern across the centre front of the yoke and the pleated section so that the horizontal green stripes would be evenly spaced from waist to hem.

I really love how the skirt turned out. I am definitely making another one in knee-length, probably in a black wool I have in my stash. Of course, that tasteless part of me is still pulling in the direction of a matching jacket like Cher's above. Perhaps a pair of over-knee socks will be enough to sate that side of me...

Alix x