Monday, October 25, 2010


To continue on with my jungle-pattern obsession, last weekend we went for a holiday to Daylesford in the countryside, and I managed to book "the Zebra Room" at the Manse. It was pretty awesome and had an array of verging-on-hilarious-but-kind-of-cool african-based prints and decor.
Zebra bath!
Mantlepiece Hippo....

The bed head was an amazing print of a Victorian-era botanical drawing, for which I also have a fetish at the moment.
I just bought a beautiful book called "Botanical Riches; stories of botanical exploration" by Richard Aitken. It charts the exploration and documentation of the world's flora by all the major colonial powers from Egypt and Islam, though to Asia and Great Britain.

Left: Franz Antoine, Die Coniferen nach Lambert, Loudon und Anderen. Nut from the Australian Bunya Pine.
Right: Henry Andrews, The Botanist's Repository, 1806. North American Aloe Agave americana and vanilla, below.

British manuscript album "Shrubs and Trees"1802-4. Rhododendron arboreum, the national flower of Nepal, bought to England by Thomas Hardwicke.

I find the precision and delicacy of these beautiful works both calming and enlightening; I love that people were drawing like this, sketch book on their knees, out in the wilds, wherever crown and country let them sail.

Spring Racing

So we are off and racing, literally at Lissom Yarn, to Oaks Day, after which I intend to collapse and sleep for about 4 days.

Earlier this month I did a spring-coloured merino dress for a client, in a very pretty pale sea green-blue. Very nice as there is still a chill in the air, and these are so good for layering.

Next was a bridesmaids dress for a wedding next weekend; it was a simple job from a vintage pattern, which was actually really enlightening. The plethora of innovative design features in '40's dress is amazing; you just dont see designs like this anymore. Its a 1948 Vogue pattern.
The bodice was constructed in two s-shaped parts with gathering along the curves, opposite to each other (shoulder and hip). This gave a delightful asymmetry to the volume in the skirt, set off by the strong padded shoulders and high neckline.

It has a side invisible zip and I just put one button and loop at the back of the neck to stop her looking too "stitched-up". I particularly like the long back darts and how plain it is compared to the front design.
The client chose the fabric, a polyester steel grey satin, which is always a challenge, but I think it turned out nicely.
The Client is very slim and quite tall, so it looks great on her.

Next week, how to make a box-pleat leather skirt. It takes five and half sheeps.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Daylight Save-d My Life

Happily the sun is returning to my world and it really looks like winter may finally end.

Latest creations are delightfully breezy; no more tweed please!

With the Racing season approaching fast fast fast, I'm getting into the mood with printed cottons and classic lines.

This linen and printed cotton dress was ordered way back at the beginning of the year, for Derby Day. It is an adaptation of a dress I made when Lissom Yarn opened and I didn't have a lot to do.. the original skirt was a full circle.

The back of the skirt is longer than the front and the bodice is lined and bound with my old favourite, black satin bias binding.

The cotton print came from the ends bin at Tessuti, back in February. I wish I had 5 more metres!

Next is a lovely thing made for a client with fabric she supplied, a very interesting printed silk chiffon.

The client was inspired by my awesome "How to be a Fashion Designer" book from 1979 in my studio; lots of drawings of rip-offs of Yves Saint Laurent's bohemian Russian gypsy collections.
So we decided on bell sleeves and a little peplum, that she can add a thin leather belt to at home.
I'm rather proud of this little blouse, mostly because the construction is largely french seams on four layers of chiffon; quite a challenge. But it looks great inside, so it was defiantly worth it!
I also love the "pussy-bow", and the way the print worked out; the blue section only ran along one selvedge, so cutting was slow and cautious!
Again with the self - covered buttons, which were desperately fiddly with two layers of silk chiffon.

But hooray, it all worked out in the end.

Coming up this month are some outrageous race dresses and hopefully some hats...Stay posted!