Everyday superheroes

We’re off to Dublin for a week’s holiday from Wednesday and since we’re staying with some of James’s relatives, we wanted to give them a nice little hostess gift for putting us up (and putting up with us!). We thought about the usual stuff, but then instead decided to make something fun for their little boy (aged 5) instead.

So he’s going to be the recipient of this cape:

It’s nice and recycled – it’s made from a blue cotton tablecloth that came with our hotel boat when we bought it, the silver silk dupioni is offcuts from this shirt, and the velcro was from the shoulder pads I purchased for my tuxedo jacket (since I was sewing them in I wisely removed the velcro for later use). I just freehanded this so I can’t recommend a pattern, but if you’re making your own please make sure the neck fastening uses velcro or snaps instead of ties or buttons so you don’t end up gifting a choke hazard!

Since we’re going to Dublin by the train + ferry option I’ll have a few relaxing hours to devote to hand stitching things I’ve been putting off. So I’ll be finally bias binding the raw seam allowances of my silk blouse, adding a modesty snap to my bamboo dress, and sewing the hem of my Jean Paul Gaultier skirt (see below). But when I’m in Dublin, I’ll have lots of free time to explore – anyone have any fabric/haberdashery store recommendations?

I might get some further practice in the fine art of cape-making, too, as I’ve entered into an 8k run for the Anthony Nolan Trust, where the costume theme is “superheroes”, with prizes for best costume. It’s not quite the same thing as designing a Halloween costume, though, as I’ll need to be able to run in it for 40-45 minutes, so I’m thinking of buying some more wicking sports gear from TK Maxx and just altering that with a little cape (a big one would create too much drag I think) and a big belt and wrist cuffs. I’m on the fence with an eye mask, but that’s something I could just pull off if it annoyed me mid-race… This is a bit of a low-key warmup for my big 10k race in May so I’m not really taking myself or my times that seriously here!

My current big project, however, is making this Jean Paul Gaultier skirt from the January issue of Patrones magazine (#264, 69):

You can see the curves best in my muslin (but disregard the irregular hem), and in the final version I’m sewing up those curves in black duchess satin leftover from my 1930s evening gown, with the rest of the skirt made up in black wool crepe, which was leftover from my little black dress. I’m lining each panel separately in a technique I used years ago for a friend’s skirt, where you cut the lining piece to be bigger than the fashion fabric, sew them right sides together, then flip so the seam allowances are contained within. I’ve currently got all the pieces lined, and I’ve just got to construct it all this weekend and draw and attach a new facing.

I realised on Monday, though, that I didn’t have any black zippers left, and I really didn’t fancy a trip to the West End after work just to get one measly zipper, so I thought I’d try looking locally to my office instead. Woolworths have a small sewing section (literally about two feet wide in the back of the store!) but they were all out of black zippers (for £1.25 each). Luckily, though, I ventured into some of the “tat shops” on Bethnal Green Road and scored this from a shop called Top 10:

Yes! That’s ten zippers in a rainbow of colours for only one pound! Hurrah!

If you’re in a browsing sort of mood, you might also want to check out a few photos from the fashion photoshoot that took place on our boat back in January. Georgie helped me out a lot in fitting my designs down to the models at my catwalk show last Fall, so I was more than happy to hold lighting rigs and make cups of tea for the crew while they photographed her F/W 08/09 collection.

And finally, I’ve often been asked to describe my style in various interviews and conversations and I’ve always struggled to objectively class what I make into a nice soundbyte. But thinking on this the other day I came up with “Classic lines, devilish details“ and I think that suits my style quite well. Has anyone else struggled with describing their own style, or is it just me?

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