Outfit Challenge: days 2, 3 and 4

For shame! Whereas The Dutchess (at http://dutchess-linda.blogspot.nl/) loyally updates all of her outfits, here I am, doing a batch of ’em at once. There is room for much improvement, so here’s to that! I’m really enjoying the challenge, but I gave myself a bit of a headache with today’s. However, let me start out with last week’s challenge, Day 2. I had to pick a theme and chose ‘outfit inspired by a bird’. My choice for the day was the great spotted woodpecker: 

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The outfit turned out to be a nice comfortable casual Sunday outfit (though I switched to black flat boots after a bit, the heels were killing me), but I’d totally wear it to work, too! I liked the red details and the skirt’s a definite favourite. Found it in a Dublin thrift shop for a couple € and keep coming up with more combinations with it. Not a bad find at all! 

Allright, moving on! Day 3 was last Thursday, the 28th. We had to find our inspiration in one of the four elements. Linda chose water, I chose earth: 

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Another secondhand skirt! Loved the leafy pattern but the model’s a bit odd, so I usually wear it as a strapless dress. I wore a black infinity scarf with a beige/brown/’]green floral pattern with it. Like the combination of the loose skirt and sturdy boots and the overall Autumny-feel of the outfit. Definitely gonna wear this more often! The nights are getting longer already and my house was still fairly dark, so the phone photos didn’t turn out great. My apologies! I’ll be using my regular digital camera from here on. 

And here we are, August 31st. Today’s theme, my pick, was ‘The Casual Romantic’. I didn’t really think it through, though. The weather’s been really weird lately (hot&sunny one moment, rain&thunder one minute later) and we have a family barbecue today, so I’ll probably be outdoors a lot. None of the romantic flowery dresses I own and considered felt right (either too light for me to wear in the vicinity of barbecue sauce and ketchup, or I couldn’t find a right combination. In the end I settled for something safe and black, although I still think it’s a fairly romantic outfit. 

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I like it! The yellow tights are very… yellow, but I can’t help loving them. I’m not sure if you can tell from the photo’s, but I’m wearing a matching yellow crocheted hat. It’s not an office outfit, but very barbecue-appropriate I think. Now I’m going to dig up a raincoat and I’ll be off. That was it for now! See you all again on Thursday. 

Enjoy your weekend!             

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Day 1 of the Outfit Challenge

Last week I was cleaning out my wardrobe and I noticed that I own a lot of really nice clothes that I rarely wear. Such a waste! I felt that it was time to come up with some new combinations, but I can always use some help with that. In my experience, other people always spark new ideas and can really inspire you to try something entirely different. While scouring Pinterest a couple of days later I noticed that my friend Linda (http://dutchess-linda.blogspot.nl/) had been pinning some film-related outfits. I loved them, and they made me think – I figured it would be pretty funny to have a couple of days a week on which you receive a theme and use that theme as a source of inspiration for that day’s outfit. I asked Linda, who was all up for it. We decided on two of these days a week – we each think of one theme, and are not allowed to buy new clothes for the challenge specifically.

Today marks Day 1 The theme Linda came up with was ‘Casual Cosplay’, so creat an outfit that is based on a fictional person (or concept). Now there are many options here, of course, but I picked an old favourite of mine – Lucius Malfoy, from the Harry Potter series. It seemed like a logical choice: my hair’s the right colour and I’ve always liked his style – lots of layers of rich, dark fabrics, fur details, subtle accessories (except of course for Snakey the Pimp Cane – nothing subtle about that one) and overall snooty rich guy class. You know, this guy: 

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Now the trick was to genderswap and convert that look into something office-appropriate. I also had the weather to consider – it’s still August and though it’s getting chillier outside, too many layers seemed like a bad idea. After due consideration I decided on the following outfit (beware of the amateuristic selfies):

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In general, I’m really happy with the outfit! The dress was a hand-me-down from… Wow, I don’t even remember, and I had never worn it. But I think I will now! It’s really comfy and I like the way it drapes. I also think it combines well with the belt, which I’d only worn once before, too. I’ve had the shoes for years but rarely wore them, so when it comes to rediscovering my wardrobe I could say this day was a success. I’m less impressed with the outfit as a casual cosplay. It turned out to be pretty difficult to convert his Evil Rich Wizard style into something appropriate for a receptionist. Things would get really costume-ey really quickly. Also, I was disappointed with my collection of accessories – very low on snakes. So instead I decided to stick with black and silver, and added some green touches to keep the Slytherin vibe going, even though Lucius doesn’t sport greens that much.

I did have a good time last night while trying to find the best items to wear today. Not sure what Day 2 will bring yet – it’s my turn to think of a theme!

 
 
 
 

CastleFest 2013

Every year, a number of Fantasy and Sci-Fi festivals is hosted in The Netherlands, mostly around castles which, fixed in the background wherever you go, get you in the right mood immediately. These festivals attract a wide variety of people and many of them will dress up as anything fantasy-related. Last year, my mother and I went to one of them, called CastleFest, for the first time – she loves dressing up as much as I do and always wanted to visit a festival like that. We had a great time, and were very popular! We were dressed like bearded ladies and had our photos taken loads of times.

photo by Nick Vermeulen (www.nickvermeulen.nl)

photo by Nick Vermeulen (www.nickvermeulen.nl)

We had such a good time that we decided to go there again this year. Of course, even after loads of brainstorming all year long we still had to rush our costumes last minute. We decided to reuse the bearded lady look but add some nice home made touches. A nice opportunity for me to get to work again!

I decided on a nice, nonchalant look and set to work. We still had last year’s simple but elegant black corsets and long, chiffon skirts and I decided to re-use those, but I wanted something a little more eye-catching than last year’s wrap blouses. After some web browsing, I  found this ‘pattern’ on Pinterest:

Dress 'pattern' for Keira Knightley's Guinevere dress

I had a good look at it and decided that I could probably use it, that it was simple enough for me to not ruin it. It needed a few alterations though – I did not want a dress, but something more coat- or robelike and it seemed easy enough to realise that by using this tutorial. I went out, bought fabric and gave it a shot. When I was almost finished, my beautiful sewing machine suddenly started smoking and smelling of burnt plastic – it finally gave up. WIth only two more days to go I had to go out and buy a new sewing machine. I chose a Singer Talent, which is perfect for a beginner like myself (very straightforward, and not too many options!)

Yet, the end result was very satisfactory indeed:

I added lace trimming around the edges to give it a little flair. I also added some extra detail to the back, which Ethel is showing right here:

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So that was one down, and I had one more to go, and now that I was starting to get the hang of it, things were going a lot faster. I made a couple of photos while following the different stages of the pattern:

I folded the fabric along the middle so the sleeves would be (almost) exactly the same

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Cut in sleeves and neckline

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shortened sleeves a little

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Ethel’s helping me adjust the neckline – I basically folded the coat open a little on both sides and cut off the bits that fell out

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I really liked the effect of the ‘open’ sleeves on the original dress. Mine came out looking a little different, but I was happy enough with the results

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Roughly gathered the fabric on tiop of the shoulders

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Almost done – just needed to add the lace around the edges (and cut off a fair bit around the feet, as you can probably tell)

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The lace could be folded nicely down the middle, which I did around the sleeves, as you can see here. This was very convenient for me, as I didn’t need to hem them now.

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Almost there!

Almost done! I just had to cut out the ‘triangle’ of pink fabric just above the first V of lace and stitch the lace on. I did that by hand because the fabric was a little stretchy and I was afraid that my new sewing machine and I weren’t getting along enough for that yet. Ethel was very patient with me, luckily. By 2 AM, the day before we were leaving for the festival, I snipped off the final loose thread and was finally able to go to bed, tired but satisfied!

In the end we left off the beards after all – they tend to get itchy and it was a hot, hot day!

The festival was brilliant – great music, good food, amazing atmosphere, the weather couldn’t have been better (mind you, this was early August) and there were loads of beautiful costumes. We’ll definitely be back for more next year and I’m already brainstorming again about the costumes. I wonder what I’ll be posting up here next year!

A small impression:

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Photo by Geert Spoor (www.geertspoor.nl)

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Photo by Geert Spoor (www.geertspoor.nl)

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Steampunk Furbies in the Steampunk Garden

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Mum during her photoshoot

Pinterest inspired jeans vest

I bought a black maxi skirt last week and am absolutely in love with it. I don’t think I ever owned a more comfortable skirt. I want to wear it ALL THE TIME but I wasn’t really sure how to match it. Sooo I got onto Pinterest and got inspired. I realised I needed a jeans vest.

I was going to go to the thrift shop today and see if I could find anything refashionable, but then my mom, unaware of my plans, gave me this to actually take to the thrift shop:

Ethel was not pleased, she thought the shirt was hideous.

Ethel was not pleased, she thought the shirt was hideous.

Needless to say, I decided to fiddle around with this for a bit instead of going to the thrift shop.

Firstly, I bought new needles (remember the sad ending of my previous post?):

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Hurray!

I did some scissor work first. The sleeves had to go:

The sleeves had to go

And some of the length:

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Then, things got complicated. For me, anyways 😉 The shirt was far too large for me, so the shoulder bits sort of hung over my arms like badly fitting cap sleeves and I wasn’t sure how to fix that, so I did a little experiment:

Exciting!

Exciting!

I cut out the side seams, folded it down the middle:

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…and sort of drew a new shape into it, then cut off the leftover fabric. I cut off more later since the shoulder bits were still a bit wide but I didn’t take any photos of that – I basically used the same method anyway 🙂

Then there was a lot of seaming and swearing and eventually it looked like this:

Almost there...

And I hadn’t even done the arm hole seams yet! 

When I tried it on, I still wasn’t too happy with it, so I snipped off some more from the bottom. Eventuallly, it turned out like this:

Result

I”m actually really pleased with how it turned out! Even Ethel wanted to try it on again:

She looks hot, doesn't she?!

She looks hot, doesn’t she?!

It’s still a little clean-looking and I really like the worn-out look so I might bleach it up a bit later, but for now, I’m happy 😀

Maternity maxi dress turned fun and flowy summer number

So I found this huge dress at a thrift shop, for about €5,-:

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It looks almost black but it’s a deep navy and the flowers are white.

I really liked the fabric, so I figured that even if I wouldn’t be able to make a decently fitting dress out of it I’d always be able to do something with it. But after close inspection I kinda fell in love. There’s some really cute pleating in the front:

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So for starters, I just cut off a bit from the bottom:

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Then I had to take it in a little. I wanted to just take in the side seams but the dress has pockets (pockets!) and I really want to keep them, so I decided to make some bust darts and make an extra pleat on the back. I used a belt to pin the darts and pleat into place but unfortunately I broke my one and only needle as I was hemming the bottom 😦

I still wore it to a Lana Del Rey concert yesterday, and I just used the belt to cinch the waist.

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All in all, it’s not a spectacular refashion, but the first I can share up here 🙂

The first small steps

Ever since I started to get interested in fashion I was fascinated by the art of making clothes. I always thought it would be amazing to just sit down behind your sewing machine and whip up whatever you feel like, and proudly wear it the next day. So about ten years ago, I started taking sewing lessons. They were disappointing – I did not expect sewing to be so technical, and I hadn’t expected to have to do quite so much… math. Needless to say, since I was about 15 years old at the time, I quickly lost interest and returned to store bought clothes.

And now, ten years later, I’m giving it another shot. I got a gorgeous, old sewing machine from a friend:

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Oh, that’s a nice little cupboard…

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…except it’s not!

…and I sort of just… got started. I was very much inspired by blogs that focused on refashioning – making really pretty clothes out of just-not-right to downright ugly items. The first thing I tried was making a kimono style jacket from a blouse that was way too big, a really weird fabric and overall, hugely frustrating to work with. But in the end, just by putting in a new seam here and there my sewing machine and I started to get along. I noticed that all knowledge from ten years ago hadn’t seeped out of my brains yet, which was really motivating!

But I figured things would go a lot faster if I wouldn’t have to stumble around in half finished and pin-filled items all the time. I could use an extra pair of hands – or, even better, a clone that could wear the clothes for me. And that’s when I came across Ethel!

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Meet Ethel! She’s a lovely lady. She’ll be modelling my projects!

She moved in with me and we’re getting along pretty well! She agreed to being my main model so you’ll be seeing a lot of her from now on. I’m excited to really get started! I have a heap of clothes that could do with a bit of tweaking lying around, and even traced a pattern for an entirely new dress (daring!), so I won’t get bored any time soon.

Unfortunately I didn’t take photos of my very first refashions, but from now on, I’ll keep my camera around and ready and try to document as much as possible.

I hope that, a year from now, I’ll look back on these posts and see lots, lots of progress. I’m afraid it’ll be a long and tedious process but I’m not the girl I was ten years ago. This time I won’t quit. I promise!