We’re not overly enthusiastic when it comes to Halloween, but give us an occasion and my god, we’ll rise to it! So when we found out that our favourite cocktail bars, Merchant House and its sister bar Merchant House of Fleet Street, were going to hold Halloween parties this year with a prize for best costume, we started scheming… After a few weeks deliberation, we decided to go as a fox and a badger, the two mascots of the bars which represent the two owners (who kinda look like a fox and a badger each!).
Many of you may be frantically planning and plotting what costume to make for Halloween next weekend, but for me, the biggest costumed event of the year was last Friday, at my friend Gez’s 1980s-themed 40th birthday party. Gez has thrown fancy dress parties for years, so I already knew that people would make an effort, but by keeping a small and pared-down wardrobe for myself, I didn’t really have any suitable 80s vintage clothing already. So I knew I”d have to make something from scratch.
I didn’t want to go the full-on Dynasty “hair & shoulder pads” look, so I was a bit stuck until I realised that I could totally do the 1980s Jane Fonda jazzercise look instead! I sometimes have shiny 80s lycra on hand for making early test versions of patterns, but I’d run through all of that in developing the Lightspeed Leggings pattern (poor James!).
I did indeed finish my peplum top in time to wear it to Karen’s V&A Ballgowns meetup on Friday, even though it meant sewing the hem over breakfast on Friday morning! You can see a sneak peek of it in the top photo on her site, though the peplum itself is hidden by my knees! Fingers crossed I can get a photoshoot done one evening this week, because my weekend was full of other activities…
As I shared with you last week, part of my preparation/reward for my marathon training was to run the Bacchus half marathon this weekend. It’s a half-trail, half-road, fancy dress (costumed) race through a vineyard in Surrey with wine tasting every 2 miles, plus a free glass of wine and hog roast at the end. See why I signed up??
You’ve probably spotted it already, but the skirt is another Jalie running skirt – this is my third, and this is definitely my go-to for warm weather running bottoms (for cooler weather, you can’t beat the Ooh La Leggings!)
The top/vest/singlet is self drafted from my tweaked knit sloper, plus an added kerchief that I drafted from the sloper’s neckline. The kerchief is double layered, and attached to the neckline by overlocker, with the seam showing on the “right” side, which in this case is hidden under the kerchief. I tacked it down at the shoulders and that was enough to keep the seam hidden. Rather than physically tie a knot on the front ties, I instead made a loop to make it look a bit neater, and the “grabbiness” of the supplex was enough that it didn’t slip at all.
James and I are big fans of the fantastic and fantastically trashy HBO show “True Blood” so this Halloween we decided to dress up as Bon Temps’s psychic waitress Sookie Stackhouse and her 250 year old vampire boyfriend Bill Compton. James’s costume was considerably easier than mine (wear black, put on plastic fangs and fake blood, speak with Southern drawl), but thankfully mine didn’t involve too much effort this year either.
I wanted to recreate Sookie’s most recognisable outfit, the Merlotte’s bar uniform, which consists of black shorts, a tight white teeshirt with the green Merlotte’s logo, and a back bar apron.
As I’ve made clear before, I do not wear shorts. I own one pair that I bought when I was 18, and they don’t get worn outside the moorings. Whatever shorts I made here would be a one-time only garment, so I wanted to make them as simple and easy as possible. Since the October edition of Burda magazine was handy, I traced off #111 and then modified them to make them as simple as possible:
In continuation of my quest for comfortable pyjamas and tops that can work as pyjamas or casualwear, I’ve made BWOF 12/08 #113 pleated neck tee and KnipMode 03/2007 #11 leggings, which I made once before as pyjama bottoms in the pink retro guitars waffle knit.
The heathered and super soft grey jersey is from my first trip to Goldhawk Road, which I bought for £4 a metre, and it was enough to make both the top and leggings, with enough spare for another top someday, I reckon.
SCENE: Last Sunday night on the boat…
James: So for Simon’s stag night on Saturday we’re going to dress him up like Dick Whittington. I thought he could wear my pirate coat and we’ll get him a tricorn hat and he can carry Bagpuss as his cat…
Me: If anything happens to that coat, I will murder you. I would sooner make a whole new coat than see anything happen to it after I slaved for two years making it.
James: Oh really? You’d make another coat? Would you?
And so begins the tale of how I made a pirate coat in less than a week.
Wow. After nearly two years, I finally finished my boyfriend’s black velvet pirate jacket. Lined with gold satin, with functional pockets, functional buttonholes, brass buttons, tons of interior pockets for his gadgets, and hidden pocket inside the cuff for his Oyster card. There was so much handstitching on this and velvet is such an jerk of a fabric that I seriously wasn’t sure I’d ever finish it. I had problems at pretty much every step of the way, the majority of which stemmed from the fact that you can’t iron velvet. At all. Made in a different fabric, with non-functioning costume parts as indicated on the pattern, this would be a fairly straightforward project.
But since he wanted silk velvet and satin and for everything to function, plus have pockets absolutely everywhere, combined with a hem a mile long, this turned into a complete nightmare of a jacket. The handstitching alone took more manhours than I actually want to think about without bursting into tears. I did manage to make one big mistake near the end, even though I was so careful to NOT do it in my planning. It would’ve been impossible to fix without a complete deconstruction (and stitching lines remain in velvet forever), so I just left it as is. See if you can tell what it is from the photos, and I’ll reveal all below…
My father is the perfect man to play Santa. He’s got the big, white beard, a well-cultivated beer belly (he’s a Yuengling man, if you’re buying!), and a jolly Germanic red nose. He looks so much like Santa, in fact, that my friends in high school would call him that even in the heat of summer.
So it was a crime against Christmas that he didn’t actually own a Santa costume, especially since my brother’s kids are now at the perfect age for a “visit from Santa”. So I took it upon myself to correct this, and armed with Mccalls 8992, some red velour from the Utrecht fabric market (which may look familiar to you!), and some white fun fur, I made him a costume fit for a Santa professional.
My boyfriend and I are currently saving up for the mortgage deposit to buy a boat (a huge barge, not a tiny narrow canal boat) to live on starting this winter. We don’t want your average housewarmi- sorry, boatwarming party, so we’ve already decided it’s going to be a full pirate fancy dress theme. And if you’re throwing a fancy dress party, you’ve got to be the best dressed ones there!
For him, I bought Simplicity 4923 and have very slowly started to make the jacket portion out of a gorgeously thick, black silk velvet I scored at Walthamstow Market for £3/mt (by rights, it should’ve been at least £20/mt). He picked out some very nice hemispherical antique brass buttons from MacCulloch & Wallis plus some dark gold braid for the accents.