After a seemingly endless summer (it was so hot I couldn’t even leave the apartment for days on end!), I have to say I’m very glad that autumn’s now upon us. It’s my favourite time of year, when the leaves start to turn, there’s a chill in the air in the mornings, and all around you can smell the grape harvests from the vineyards being pressed to make lovely Swiss wine.
RR and I left a very hot and humid Switzerland at the start of September for a 2 week break in England, and by the time we arrived home again, the days were crisp and clear and bright, making me think of autumn walks and pumpkin soup and fruit crumbles. Mmmmmmm!!!
Last Sunday by the lake
Plum and cinnamon crumble with walnuts – yummy!
We do try to get back to England together at least once a year, but this time we had a wonderful reason for our trip – RR’s lovely cousin Miss L was getting married 🙂 We’d been looking forward to this wedding for a long time, and I was determined to find the perfect outfit to wear – made by me, of course!
And so, at the start of the summer, I made up a couple of toiles to trial possible dress options – a beautiful 1950s-inspired Butterick sundress, and a more elegant Vogue peplum dress.
I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to wear, and as they were both very different styles, and I was making them in very different fabrics, I decided to make both. Especially as I wanted to have options for both a chilly, damp day and a warm sunny one, given that you can never rely on the weather in England!
As it happened, it was a glorious day, and I ended up wearing my beautiful retro sundress, made up in a gorgeous Art Gallery cotton fabric. I chose a matching off-white Art Gallery solid to make up the collar and the cuffs, and to cover the buttons down the front bodice, and I lined it all with a lovely white cotton voile, bought at hideous expense from my local fabric store, but so soft and breathable it really was the ideal choice.
Butterfly Bliss from the Rapture range by Pat Bravo.
I did initially try to pattern match when I was cutting out, but the dress called for so much fabric that in the end I think I’d have had to buy an entire bolt, and even then it would be touch and go. As it was, I had to buy extra to get it all to fit. But I don’t think you really notice, and I absolutely love this dress, pattern matching or no!
Seeing as I had previously made a toile, the dress went together really quickly and easily. The main problem was wrestling with all that fabric when I was sewing! Oh, and hand-sewing the hem took the best part of a weekend. But I do so love the look of a hand sewn hem…
Retro sundress – bodice
Retro sundress – bodice close up
In the end, the biggest problem I had was trying to find the right shoes to match. After all, shoes make the outfit! I spent an entire day in London trawling Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street in a vain attempt to find the right colour shoe in the right style with the right height heel. It appeared that such a shoe didn’t exist. I could find the ideal style in the wrong colour, or the right colour with sky high heels that crippled me just to look at them! I was resigned to having to wear wellies or my trusty Converse sneakers to the wedding, and was about to drown my sorrows in a large G&T when my lovely friend Nic posted a link for me to a wonderful company called Upper Street, who create customised shoes to your own design. I immediately called and made an appointment to visit their Shoe Lounge in central London.
OMG!!! What a revelation!!! No more battling the west end crowds and trawling all the shoe shops to find what you need. No, over a glass of bubbly and with a yummy macaron or two to sustain you, you can sit in the comfort of their elegant Shoe Lounge, surrounded by shoe-spiration galore, and create your ideal shoe from scratch with the help of one of their lovely designers.
… and more shoe-spiration…
… everywhere you look, shoe-spiration!
Seriously. You can choose shoe shape, heel height, straps, buckles and zips, what the shoe is made from, what colour it is. You can even have a custom inscription on the sole of the shoe itself. And although it costs a little more than say Hobbs or LK Bennett, it’s a lot less than a pair of Louboutins. Wow!!!
Needless to say, I ordered a pair 🙂 A peep toe court shoe with a kitten heel, made from off-white snakeskin.
My first custom-designed shoe!
Such a cute peep toe!
They’re simple and elegant and will go with pretty much anything – the ideal summer shoe! I picked them up four weeks later, just before the wedding. They were (and still are!) perfect, and totally made the outfit (along with the cute Furla bag that had caught my eye on my way to collect them…)
Matching bag from Furla
And so, without further ado, here’s the full “look” in all its glory. Ta da!!!!!
And although I’ve run out of time for this summer, I know that I’ll be making this dress again and again, in fact I have the ideal fabric stashed away for it for next summer. And, fortunately, it will go perfectly with my beautiful new shoes.
A retro sundress and a glorious pair of custom shoes. What more could a girl want??!
I know, I know, it’s been *ahem* quite a while since I last posted on my blog, but that’s not to say that I haven’t been busy. Oh no indeedy! It’s just that what with one thing and another – Easter, lovely friends visiting, Patchwork in the Peaks quilt retreat, RR’s cousin’s wedding, and visit to Mum amongst them – blogging seems to have fallen off the radar recently. But having been so busy lately also means I have lots to write about – and I thought I’d start off with the dress I made to wear to Ms S and Mr E’s wedding.
I saw the pattern for this dress in the catalogue in my local fabric store in Lausanne and loved it so much that I bought it straight away – I just couldn’t wait to get started, and the thought of waiting over a week to get the pattern shipped from England was just too much to bear! Sadly this meant that I got instructions in French, German and Dutch, rather than in English, but, hey, it was good for my French and I picked up the odd sewing-related term in German too 🙂
I already had the ideal fabric for this dress sitting in my cupboard, a lightweight grey wool I had picked up at Beckenstein Fabrics when I was in New York over Thanksgiving. It was an offcut, just 1 1/2 yards, but I knew immediately I saw it that it needed to be made into an elegant shift dress – and so, several months later, (French) pattern in hand, I got cutting and stitching.
The pattern came together really quickly, and over the course of a couple of weeks my wonderful sewing teacher Sabina helped me fit it and showed me how to create a proper facing and attach a lining. Shoes and bag had already been purchased, so everything was ready to go, and I was able to concentrate on the quilt I was making as a wedding gift for the lovely couple.
Then, one week out, disaster struck – I tried the dress on and it no longer fitted! With the benefit of hindsight, this was Not Entirely Unsurprising as I had been scoffing chocolate over Easter like a crazy woman, but it came as a bit of a shock when the dress barely zipped up (well, I got it zipped up, but breathing then became a problem – oops!) Cue an entire week of eating nothing but salad, combined with some judicious seam alterations and – Ta Da! Still a little tighter than I’d like, but all things considered, not bad at all…
I absolutely love this dress (despite the not-doing-up trauma!). I’ve already made a second version in a gorgeous light blue linen I bought in Paris – and I have plans to make several more. It’s a simple make, nice and flattering and very elegant. Perfect, in fact, for a wonderful spring wedding.
Dress pattern – Burda Style 3477