Deckchair, eyes, and puppets at Morley

In June I went to Morley College Gallery to see the Textile Foundation exhibition. I did this course from 2009-10 and I wish I could do it all over again. It’s a part-time, one-year course and the teachers and facilities are amazing.

Morley are now also running a part-time Fine Art Foundation course which I would love to do. If I was rich I would spend my life taking different art and design courses (if I could fit them into a hectic schedule of lounging about, reading Jilly Cooper novels and eating chocolate).

These are my favourites from the June 2011 exhibition – I’ve taken all the info on the designers from their artist’s statements.

Monika Haeussler-Goeschl was inspired by the glove puppets of Paul Glee to create this piece. It’s a framework of a person, with lines leading out to 7 different puppets, each of which represents a different aspect of personality based on Freud’s theories. Very interesting idea and different to anything else in the show.

Personality Puppets

Here’s my favourite puppet – The Controller. Scary.

Eileen Egerton was inspired by 1984, using the eye as a symbol and metaphor for fear, love and wisdom. They really remind me of African wax-prints and I love the colours she’s chosen, and how she’s created a palette with the same print.

Fabric samples

Eye wall hanging

Teresa Kirk‘s project was a homage to Morecambe, 1950s textiles, and ‘cheerful optimism, child-like pleasure and fun’. This was my favourite, with three deckchairs perched on a sandy floor against a blue background. I completely love her ice-cream print and want it as an A-line skirt (or a swimming costume! How amazing?)

Deckchair prints
Ice-cream flavours on the left, and Eric Morecambe on the right

Katie Thomas created these silk scarves, which are all based on the ‘unusual beauty’ of Deptford in South London. They’re discharge dyed and printed. Love the colours and how they’ve been hung up on a washing line.

Sadly you can’t go and see this exhibition, on account of it ending two months ago, but go along next year! And there’s always something interesting on at the Gallery.

Gibson tuck hair-do

I thought people might like to know about an amazing hairstyle, which I think Casey originally posted. It’s called a Gibson tuck, and you can find out how to do it here.

It’s a cute, vaguely vintage-y hairdo that is easy to do even for hair simpletons like myself. It’s sort of Victorian (hence the name) and sort of 1940s.

You just make a ponytail, pull it out a little bit and create a sort of nest between the hair-band and your head, then roll back all your hair and stuff it into the nest (sorry for lack of eloquence in this description).

It is literally the ONLY thing I can do with my barnet. I can’t even manage a Dalston Topknot so you can see how easy this must be to do.

You can even wear a bike helmet over it, if you position the original pony-tail low down on the neck.

Here it is on my friend’s head:

Sarah hair  - gibson tuck

And on mine.
Katie hair  - gibson tuck

You can see a video of it on Youtube here.

I have to add that this Batiste XXL Dry Shampoo volumising stuff is amazing if you have flat slippery boring hair like myself. It basically makes your hair feel dirty and sticky, even though it’s clean. I know that sounds sort of disgusting but it’s good for spraying all over your hair before you backcomb it, it makes it all stick together enough to do hair-styles like the above.

/this public service hair announcement is now over.

Dinner-lady Sorbetto dress

My latest Sorbetto was prompted by a friend’s birthday party with a ‘literary character’ theme. I was completely stuck for ideas, until a more creative friend  sudden flash of genius suggested dressing up as the Borrowers.

Naturally my mind turned to the idea of massive buttons, and some kind of miniature looking dress to put them on. The largest print I had in my stash was some big check blue gingham I bought from IKEA for some reason lost in the mists of time (surely everyone stumbles out of IKEA with loads of stuff they have no recollection of buying? It’s something they put in the meatballs I reckon).

I only had about two days to make a costume so the Sorbetto pattern was the obvious choice  – I already knew it fitted and was quick to sew. To turn the top into a dress I just took a big ruler and extended the side lines downwards for each pattern piece. I did the front first and then matched up the back side so the flare was the same on both sides.

Here’s my boyfriend and me as the Borrowers. I’ve had to crop this photo because there was some unflattering gurning going on, but you can see my giant buttons, jumbo pencil (from Amazon! Everyone should have one), and the massive needle and thread belt I made. (p.s. – we are crouching to try and look more tiny, obviously it’s not working so well)

Borrowers Costume

The buttons were made from some thick cardboard – I traced round a flowerpot and cut out two circles, then traced round a glass and cut out the centre of one. The other circle had two little holes cut in the middle. I then glued them together and spray-painted them a shimmery blue colour.

I hot-glued them onto the dress because a) I am lazy, and b) I love my hot glue gun.

I was proud of this dress and optimistically thought it could actually be wearable in everyday life, so I spent valuable sewing time picking off the buttons, getting rid of the giant pencil pocket, finishing the seams, adding a little lace-trimmed pocket on the top, and bias binding the hem.

However as we all know, pride comes before a fall, and I failed to notice the glaring problem with this dress. It bears an unfortunate resemblance to a dinner-lady tabard, as you can see in this photo.

I’m trying to put a brave face on it. Without a belt the resemblance is unavoidable, but even when I cinch in the waist I feel like I should be standing behind a counter, ladle in hand, dumping mashed potato onto plates.

It’s home-decor weight fabric and rather reminiscent of a giant tea-towel, which doesn’t help. I think it could work in a more structured garment but not this one. Also, the pocket I added on top looks like a strange afterthought.

On the positive side, I’m keeping the Sorbetto dress pattern I drafted – it could work well in a lighter fabric, elasticated or with a drawstring at the waist. The sway-back adjustment worked out great in the dress form. Here’s what the (crumply) pattern pieces look like.

Sorbetto dress pattern pieces

The buttons have been more successful and have now taken up residence on top of the pinboard next to my sewing desk.

Giant buttons on notice board

I did learn a valuable lesson from this dress. Much like ‘poncho’, the word ‘tabard’ should never spring to mind when people look at your handiwork.

Cape Power

Is it possible to wear a cape without feeling like a bit of an idiot? With winter practically here*, I’ve been thinking about swishing around London on my bike, wearing a giant tweedy cape, looking all care-free and stylish.
*Okay, I know August isn’t even over but it feels like the end of September – rainy, windy, and miserable. They’ve even opened the Christmas shop at Selfridges!

It’s a bit of an unlikely image for several reason, the main one being that I am a massive wimp about cycling in the rain and cold (the rain screws my eyes up!). But this year I’m determined to conquer my fear.

The problem is that cycling gear is totally ugly – there are far too many excessive toggles, zips, and shiny reflective logos. Plus most of these jackets have zips under the armpits which is just too far out for me. I want the outer-wear equivalent of my Kanken rucksack – pleasingly plain looking.

I don't want to spend 170 quid on this kind of thing. And no, making the exact same jacket pink or purple doesn't help, cynical cycling manufacturers.

That’s why I’ve been thinking about sewing myself a big cape. But I’m slightly worried about looking like a home-made superhero.

I have massive love for this ridiculous Burberry Prorsum cape. It’s so pretty! But also totally impractical. For 800 quid, you get something that covers your upper body to just below the elbows. Very useful.


This Sonia Rykiel one is more like it, and it’s a relative bargain (ahem) at £500. Although I can’t see myself cycling in 6 inch heels.

I think the key is to steer clear of anything that has the slightest whiff of the evil word ‘poncho’.

The best-looking commercial pattern I’ve found is New Look 6658. Not sure about the pointy collar though, so I’d have to either re-shape it or make the collarless version.

New Look 6658

The other option would be to go vintage, but be careful out there – there are some seriously scary looking cape patterns to be found. While searching Etsy I came across a bridal cape (for your Lord of the Rings themed wedding), a medieval monk cape (for all the Cadfael fans out there),  a Brooke Shields meets Little Red Riding Hood cape, and some terrifying crochet capes for radioactive babies

I did find this stylish Vogue pattern, although the model appears to be wearing her hair over her cycling helmet, which is one way to look stylish I suppose.

This 60s double-breasted one is great as well. Love the matching trousers and the little loafers.

However with my sewing track record (extremely slow) I will probably finish a cape just in time for next August and an unprecedented heat-wave across the UK.

Gocco Printing with the Seaside Sisters

Last week I booked myself on a Gocco screen-printing workshop with the Seaside Sisters at Craft Central in Clerkenwell. I am a total evening class junkie and have been on more adult education courses than you’ve had hot dinners (probably), but since my last drawing class finished in June I needed another quick fix of craftiness.

The Seaside Sisters had decked out the foyer of Craft Central with a truly amazing collection of vintage seaside-themed tat. I particularly loved the snowglobes and the novelty pens.

Seaside novelty pens

Touristy patches

Seaside snowglobes

Vintage sewing bits and bobs

I’d never tried Gocco printing before. It was all the rage on Craftster a few years back, and I looked into buying a machine then. Unfortunately they’ve now been discontinued and the parts are getting mega-expensive – you need two lightbulbs to expose each screen, and they each cost about £2 (And they’re single use only!)

So for the workshop, Xtina showed us how to expose our images in the Gocco, and then we used normal screen-printing techniques to print the images onto paper (you can also print inside the Gocco, I think using special oil-based inks).

I had great plans to create some kind of stunning artwork in preparation for the workshop, but unfortunately life got in the way as usual. Luckily I work right next to the Geffreye Museum so I popped there at lunch to do some last-minute sketching. My eye was caught by this colourful 1960s tea-set:

Tea-set in the Geffreye Museum

Here’s my interpretation, photocopied and ready to be Gocco-ed. You may well notice my somewhat wonky interpretation of perspective – the cup in particularly looks like it’s trying hard to exist in more than the usual 3 dimensions. However it basically captures what I liked about the piece (the awesome flower-y pattern).

Original photocopy of artwork

Here are two of the Gocco machines – a newer model on the left, and one of the first models on the right.

Two different Goccos

To expose your images onto a screen, you lift up the top half of the Gocco and place your image inside, with some screen mesh on top.

The top part that looks like a handle is actually a giant lightbulb, like an old-fashioned camera flash. You stick your (expensive) lightbulbs in there, and then press down hard on the top hinge. This bit is extremely fun as the machine gives out a massive flash and the whole top half lights up. When you open up the Gocco, hey presto, your images has been burnt through the screen.

I much preferred this to the messy, long-winded process of screen-printing – stretching your screen across a huge frame with staples, covering your mesh with stinky emulsion, waiting for it to dry, using the massive scary exposing machine, and then power-rinsing off the screen. This was super-fun and clean in comparison!

Xtina also showed us her new Thermofax machine, which is an alternative way to expose images onto a screen. It’s pretty expensive to buy, but the only consumable you need is the mesh (which comes on a giant roll). It works exactly like a laminating machine. You put your image and the mesh in a plastic pouch and then feed it through, which only takes seconds. This was fun to watch, although it did give me distressing flashbacks to a summer job I once had which involved spending two days sitting in an empty room laminating 400 signs. I now find it hard to look at anything laminated.

Thermofax machine

Here’s my screen all ready to be attached to a plastic frame:

Printing screen all taped up

Once the screen was all taped down, we got down to some serious printing. This was trickier than I thought – I’ve been used to printing with big screens on fabric, and pressing quite hard with the squeegee to get the image nice and clear. With the smaller Gocco screen, you need a light touch and less printing medium, so a lot of my prints were smudgy and over-inked.

Xtina Lamb of Printed Wonders was leading the workshop, and she kindly gave me a hand with my last few prints, meaning I had at least three that weren’t too smudged. I also realised that the image looks better on a big piece of paper – crammed into the postcard, it doesn’t really have room to breathe, but surrounded by lots of nice white space it looks a bit classier.

Sorry for the terrible picture – I actually framed the best print and gave it to my friend for her 30th birthday, but forgot to get a photo before I gave it away.

This was an amazing workshop, and the best thing was that we each got our screen to take away, so I’m going to experiment some more at home. I have some fabric ink so I was trying to think of something I could embellish with a printed coffee-pot. All I could think of was a tea-cosy, but I think it’ll be a cold day in hell before I start sewing tea-cosies for anyone. I also think it’s a little bit too twee to put on any clothing, but I’ll get my thinking cap on.

Thanks to the Seaside Sisters for a brilliant Friday evening!

Quilts, cushions, and Scottish tweed

I was up in Edinburgh last weekend for a flying visit, and most importantly a chance to remind my mum about the quilt she’s promised to make me. She wanted me to pick out some fabrics and patterns, so I had a look through her vast selection of quilting books and put post-it notes on all the ones I liked.

I love the vintage look of log-cabin quilts:

Log cabin quilt pattern

And I fell hard for this cute Flying Geese pattern, with the long strips of plain fabric in between the triangles:

Flying geese quilt pattern

I also went through her massive fabric stash and had a go at picking out some combinations – what do you think of this selection? Too bright?

Fabric selection for quilt - greens, purples, yellows

I think these lovely purple and green saturated shades would be nice for the little Flying Geese triangles, with a neutral (like the grey/beige in the middle, or a dull green) for the long strips.

I think I MAY have been subliminally influenced by my surroundings when choosing these colours – see exhibits A and B below:

Colour inspirationOn the left we have the doorway to the block of flats where my mum and dad live, and on the right my new, beautiful double-strap Swatch in lilac, from their hilariously named ‘Lady Collection’.

I don’t think I have the patience for patchwork and quilting. I know people say that about knitting, but knitting is something you can do in front of the TV/on long train journeys/at work under your desk* whereas patchwork requires you to be at the sewing machine, or hunched over a cutting table cutting teeny weeny squares of fabric to the exact millimetre.
*Not really, if my boss is reading this

One bit of sewing I have been doing, however, is making some cushion covers for my boyfriend’s parents, from the the fabric their sofa and armchairs are upholstered in.

They asked me to make these cushions… a little while ago. I’m not going to disclose exactly how long it took me to get round to it.  Suffice it to say that couples have met and split up, babies have been born, riots, corruption, and snowstorms have shaken Britain to the core, and empires have crumbled (if you count the Greek economy), while this bag of fabric sat under my sewing desk.


This is because I am

A: Kindred to the Selfish Seamstress,

and B:  Terrified of making a cushion with piping AND a zip.

However it turns out that, much like going to the dentist, it was fine once I got started. I’m not saying I enjoyed it exactly, because sewing cushions is surely the most boring thing I have ever inflicted on my poor Bernina, but it was extremely satisfying to see the cushions emerge. The fabric is an absolutely gorgeous tweed, woven in Scotland.

Zips close up

These are the first five (I still have 8 to make…)  They’re not really difficult, just time-consuming. Making the piping is actually quite fun, and I can’t wait to try it on some clothes. Cutting out endless metres of bias binding, sewing in zips over 8 layers of thick wool, finishing all the inside seams, and trying to turn out your cushion only to realise you’ve forgotten to unzip the zipper (I did this every. single. time.) = not so fun.

If you ever get the urge to sew your own lined, piped cushions, I recommend sitting down in a quiet place and reading Burda magazines until the feeling goes away. If that doesn’t work, I highly endorse these videos on youtube. There’s no way I could have done it without this guy.

Here’s an EXTREME PIPING CLOSE-UP for all you piping enthusiasts out there:

Piping close-up

Miu Miu and the 1940s

I bought the September issue of Vogue this week, just so I’d have something to read on the train.  I buy less and less fashion mags these days. Feel a bit reluctant to fork over a fiver for a publication that is 90 per cent ads, especially when most of the ads are dull as dishwater. The only one that really stood out to me was this one, Hailee Steinfeld looking like Lauren Bacall in Miu Miu.

I know there’s been some controversy over whether she’s too young to model for the label (she’s only 14), and it does seem absurd considering how much the clothes cost, but I just love this photo. The look on her face is perfect, and the blouse, hair-do, and eyebrows make her the spitting image of a mini-Lauren.

Hailee Steinfeld in Miu Miu

It also totally reminds me of the passage in By Myself  (best celebrity autobiography OF ALL TIME) where Bacall describes her wedding in a little house out in the country – she makes an entrance down a flight of stairs and is shaking so much when she sees Bogart she can hardly speak. She was only 20 when she got married, just 6 years older than Hailee.

Lauren Bacall wearing blouses

Here’s the outfit Hailee’s wearing, as seen on the catwalk. The Miu Miu AW 2011 collection is amazing, it’s totally 1940s. I love this blouse with huge sleeves, a high neck and a yoke.

Lots of similar patterns on Etsy:

40s Butterick 4659 Blouse with Jabot or Collar, Yoke and Pleat, Size 16 Bust 34I love version C, using stripes in both directions

40s Butterick 3976 Blouse with Smart Yoke High Neckline Puff Sleeves Size 16 Bust 34Perfect Bacall-esque waves on this pattern illustration.

Vintage 40s Blouse Pattern Vogue 5418 Size 16 Bust 34This one’s a bit more Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday

I can’t see the huge sleeves on these coming back into high-street stores – they require a lot of fabric so are more expensive to produce than short sleeved versions. They do look great tucked into the pencil skirts which everyone’s supposed to be wearing this winter (again according to Vogue).

I have a length of original 40s/50s crepe I bought on a stall in Spitalfields market which I want to use to make a shirt dress a bit like these blouses. Then I just need to work out how to roll my hair like the Miu Miu models…

Festival of Britain Quilt from 1951

The Museum of 51 is a free exhibition in the basement of the Royal Festival Hall that showcases lots of memorabilia from the  Festival of Britain, including this completely awe-inspiring patchwork quilt. The quilt looks back to the Great Exhibition of 1851, with one square for every year between then and 1951. 

As promised, here are some photos I took of it when I went to Vintage at Southbank. I could stare at this quilt for hours. There’s something incredibly touching about imagining all of the hours of work that went into it. I would love to know more about the people who stitched it.

Here’s the first square, which shows the original Crystal Palace which was built in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition.

Crystal Palace quilt square, from the Museum of 51 exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall

You can see on the right what happened in 1852, which was of course…

First successful sewing machine - quilt square from the Museum of 51 exhibition at the RFH

The first successful sewing machine! Look how happy it’s made this Victorian lady, sewing up a storm, and making what looks to be a giant pink cocoon of some kind.

This is not a good photo, but I particularly liked this lady, who I think is a female Air Raid Warden from the first world war?

Female air raid warden - quilt square from the Museum of 51

I also liked this ‘Ta-ra-ra- Boom-de-ay’ dancer from 1892, who looks a bit like she might tip over at any minute under the weight of her huge skirt. Maybe it’s Lottie Collins, whom Wikipedia helpfully informs us:

‘delivered the suggestive verses with deceptive demureness, before launching into the lusty refrain and her celebrated “kick dance”, a kind of cancan in which, according to one reviewer, “she turns, twists, contorts, revolutionizes, and disports her lithe and muscular figure into a hundred different poses, all bizarre”.’

Quilt from the Museum of 51 exhibition

I’m not quite sure what’s going on with the swastika/umbrella/bowler hat combination above, but I assume it’s something to do with the war. The dentures and specs on the bottom are from a square celebrating the founding of the NHS in 1949. You can also spot W.G. Grace up in the top left corner.

And here’s some more squares – you can see the construction of Wembley in 1923 (the old Wembley), Edith Cavell, the BBC building on Regent Street (which is still there), and some stylishly attired jazz dancers representing 1925.

Squares from the quilt at the Museum of 51 exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall

You can see this quilt at the RFH until the 4th September, and you really should go if you’re in London. It’s free! And afterwards you can go and look at the all the beach huts they’ve put up by the Thames and pretend to be at the seaside.

Insect screen prints

These are some insect screen prints I did as part of the textile foundation course at Morley College. I decided to frame them as a present for some friends who were getting married.

Framed screen prints of drawn insectsThey are details of a large print I did in different colours, which was covered with lots and lots of  drawn insects. I just took a page of my sketchbook and filled it with moths, beetles, ants, butterflies and creepy crawlies of all kinds.

Orange insect screen-printExposing a screen is great for tiny intricate details like these, although by the end of the term my screen was getting rather clogged up and a lot of the tiny lines weren’t coming through.

If you’d like to do a screen-printing class, I highly recommend the ones at Morley College. The whole art and design department there is brilliant, and much cheaper than all the big London art colleges.  I’d love to go back and do the advanced textile class there.

Blue insect screen-printI was really proud of this print when I first did it, but now (a year after the course) I can think of so many ways I could have improved things.

I was happy with my final show pieces though, I’ll post them here soon. The colours were all based on an amazing variety of moth with body and wings shaded midnight blue, creamy beige, and an electric, safety-vest orange. Moths have the craziest colour schemes you’ve ever seen, they were wearing fluoro long before the 80s.

Brown insect screen-printI hope these aren’t terrible presents. I think they probably mean more to me than to the people I gave them to, who will probably find them during a clear-out in 15 years time and wonder what the hell to do with them.

Do people really appreciate getting hand-made presents? Sometimes I think it can be more selfish than kind to foist the fruits of your crafty labour onto friends and family. I feel like sometimes it’s an attempt to make the present-giving more about the giver, and less about the receiver. Unless it’s something they’ve asked you to make.

What do you think?

Vogue Covers 1909 – 1940: my favourite art book

The Art of Vogue Covers 1909-1940
The Art of Vogue Covers 1909-1940, with and without dust-jacket (with famous illustration by Eric on the right)

This book is one of my favourite things in the world. It’s what I’d save if the house was burning down. I bought it at when I was studying at Morley College – an old student had donated her book collection, and we had a little sale with the proceeds going to Haiti (it was just after the earthquake there). It was a bit of a free-for-all  so when I saw the spine of this one peeking out I grabbed it and held on tight!

It’s a book of selected Vogue covers from 1909-1940 (did you know that Vogue was a weekly publication until 1973?).  Every page is phenomenal, the colours are intense and the illustrations beautiful. Covers were much simpler then – obviously there was no cover model photo, but there was also no headlines except the name of each edition, which are charmingly described as ‘numbers’ – ie. ‘winter sports number’, ‘spring fashions number’, ‘millinery number’.

The earliest covers show ladies with massive hats and long elegant lines. 




Vogue Covers from the 1910s

There’s more under the cut, as I’ve uploaded about a million photos of this book, I love it so much. It doesn’t seem to be very rare – there are copies going on Amazon UK for for £11.50 upwards. If you like vintage fashion, you should definitely get yourself one!

Continue reading

Just one Sorbetto (okay, two)

A bit late to the party as usual, but I’ve finally got round to sewing some Sorbetto tops from Colette Patterns. Apart from their lovely patterns, Colette are great at social media marketing, and have tons of free tips and patterns on their blog. They’ve played a blinder releasing the Sorbetto – it’s a perfect basic tank top, with a 60s-esque inverted pleat down the front, and has spread through sewing blogs like a particularly virulent strain of crafting flu.

If you remove the pleat, it’s also a dead ringer for the legendary Simplicity 2599, another sewing blogger favourite, which has tons and tons of variations, also applicable to the Sorbetto. Basically it’s a keeper.

I made the first version of yellow plaid seersucker, left over from making some pyjamas last year.Yellow Sorbetto from Colette Patterns

I probably should have ironed it before taking this photo but you get the general idea.

This version doesn’t fit very well – I sewed a 14 and it was tight at the chest and way too big at the sides, back, and armholes. Also the neckline gaped open (probably because of the tightness). I took it in a bit at the sides which solved the problem a little bit. It’s definitely wearable though as the fabric is lovely.

I made my own bias binding using this little gadget for the first time. It does make it easier, but it’s still fiddly and annoying to do. Somehow I managed to iron the bias tape THE WRONG WAY ROUND like an idiot, which meant ten minutes of swearing and burnt fingers as I ironed out all of those lovely bias folds I had so carefully ironed in.

I also used the Colette patterns tutorial for a continuous method of making binding which completely blew my mind, as someone who is incapable of thinking in 3D (bit of a hindrance when it comes to sewing). So thank you Colette patterns! The binding gives it a lovely clean finish and looks nice with the pleat.

Sorbetto close-up

I butchered the poor pattern up for my second attempt. It looks fairly drastic but the main thing I did was put in a FBA so it wasn’t so tight around the chest, and added a centre-back seam so I could take out some of the excess ease.

(I have an unhealthy addiction to doing FBAs as it makes me feel like a cross between a heart surgeon and a structural engineer. This may mean I need to get out more.)

Altered Sorbetto pattern

The FBA makes the top bigger at the waist, but it hangs well. I don’t think I did the swayback adjustment properly as I just added in the excess fabric at the bottom to make the seam straight, totally defeating the point. What am I missing here? However adding in a back seam and cutting quite a bit of fabric off it worked well and it looks better at the back.Blue sorbetto top from Colette PatternsThis is Ghanaian wax-print fabric, which I bought in a shop just off Brick Lane from two extremely nice women. You buy this stuff in bundles which are normally about 6 metres each, and it’s incredibly cheap – in this case just a tenner. It’s sold like this that you can get a full outfit of of it, including a skirt, top, headdress etc. In my case I’ve already made a dress and two cushion covers out of the same stuff.

African wax print Sorbetto
The wax-print stuff is quite thick cotton, which softens up more and more each time you wash it.

I also changed up the pleat in the middle, making one big pleat in the middle and two little ones either side, as you can sort of see in this photo. I just pinked the seams using my trusty rotary cutter blade. This is definitely the lazy girl’s way of finishing seams, and therefore I endorse it heartily.

I noticed that with all the blog posts about Sorbetto there were not nearly enough puns about ice-cream. I have attempted to rectify this oversight with my closing paragraph (see below). Colette Patterns, if you want to use this as marketing copy, please go ahead. It’s my pleasure.

This is a deliciously tasty pattern, and you definitely won’t get any frosty looks when you wear it! In fact, you’ll be icy cool! Whatever your outfit, it’ll be the perfect topping! Other patterns will melt away in comparison! So take a lick at the Sorbetto!

Sorry about that.

Vintage at Southbank

So, Vintage at Southbank happened last weekend. I know I said it was somewhat overpriced, but in the end I got a free ticket via a lovely friend, so I went along for some dancing on the Friday night.

You could tell that months of planning and work had gone into setting up the festival, with every staircase and room hosting a different themed bar and dancefloor. It was fun wandering around and discovering all the little areas scattered around the Royal Festival Hall.

Also, the Vintage Marketplace was huge, and free to browse. It took about half an hour just to do a circuit of the stalls, and at the back (the ‘high street’) there were massive temporary Cath Kidston and Benefit shops. These were some of the things I bought (okay, window-shopped for):

I love this, but could never buy a sofa where you can't rest your head comfortably on the arm while watching Come Dine with Me.
Bunting overload in the tea-room
A plethora of vintage hats
Wish I had investigated this leaflet more closely. It has an intriguing premise.
Never seen a vintage Hardy Amies pattern before - sadly way too big for me.

I still think that £60 was too much for an all-day event on a Friday. On the Sat and Sun you could go in the day, do some workshops, wander round, then pop home and have your tea and return for some hard-core dancing. On a Friday people are coming after work and are unlikely to pay £60 for what is essentially a night out in a club (well, 6 clubs, each from a different decade, but even so it’s a bit steep). Might be something to change next year. It meant that some of the areas were quite empty late at night. I did hear it was totally sold out on the Saturday though.

So anyway, I took about a million photos. Here is the Tupperware Man’s stall – luckily I arrived before he’d packed up for the day, so I managed to get some pictures of his lovely vintage 60s kitchen.

Am very tempted to buy a Tupperware jelly mould (the orange thing in the middle)

Tupperware kitchen at Vintage at Southbank

I was impressed with how much people had dressed up for the event. Here is a line of ladies waiting to get their free vintage hair-dos.

Well-dressed partygoersI think the 1930s themed Torch Club was my favourite space. They had palm trees scattered everywhere, barmen in bow-ties, and some older ladies and gentleman giving it serious welly on the dance-floor. There was a three-piece guitar band who played this song from the jungle book, and people started getting up on the dance floor one by one and dancing the Charleston in a sophisticated line-dance formation, it was truly amazing and made me wish I was not totally unco-ordinated.

I was looking forward to the 60s area which was held in the Clore Ballroom but there just weren’t enough people there to make it a good atmosphere – it could probably comfortably hold 800 people. I did enjoy watching people doing some Northern Soul dancing though, it always warms the cockles of my heart as they look so serious, bless them. At least they got lots of space to do some moves.

Dancing in the 1930s Torch Club
Dancing in the 1930s Torch Club
Northern Soul in the Ballroom
Northern Soul in the Ballroom
Let it Rock Club
Let it Rock club

Overall I’d say that that the tickets were too expensive, given that once you were there you had to spend more money. Drinks were not cheap, and all of the vintage props had a price-tag attached. Perhaps it was worth it if you went on a Saturday or Sunday – there were a lot of empty areas in the evening where presumably workshops/events were held during the day. What really made it for me was seeing all the impeccably dressed people who had turned up, and things like the vintage line-dancing, all of which relied on the punters rather than the actual organisers…

Still, wandering around the Royal Festival Hall sipping a gin and tonic isn’t a bad way to spend a Friday night. To finish off, here’s a lovely soothing picture of the 50s style carpet for you. Rest your eyes on the undulating green waves and dots…