Giveaway results and Burda looky likey dress

Thanks to everyone who entered the DIY Fashionista giveaway! I was going to rope in my boyfriend to do the whole numbers-picked-from-a-hat thing. Unfortunately I’ve caught a disgusting Christmas cold and feel too feeble to organise anything that involves getting up from the sofa. So it’s good old to the rescue.

random number

Comment number 18 was from Not Found. I’ve emailed you to get your address, Sarah – hope you enjoy the book! If you haven’t seen Sarah’s blog before, you should definitely check it out for some beautiful photos and musings.

In other news, take a look at these two dresses.


On the left, we have the cover dress from Burda Dec 2012. And on the right, we have this Biba long sleeved ‘Mirren’ maxi dress from House of Fraser. The drape is reversed, but otherwise there’s quite a resemblance.

I really like the look of the HoF dress, although I’m unconvinced by the ‘Biba’ Revival. I certainly don’t think it’s worth three hundred quid, especially as it’s made from polyester and lined with nylon (mmm, sweaty).

I’d love to make a dress like this, using the Burda pattern and a shimmery, drapey gold fabric. Unlikely to happen any time soon but the idea’s there if anyone else wants to have a go…

Sewing your own wedding dress: mad or marvellous?

So there was one other thing I brought back from my Norwegian holiday that I didn’t tell you about.


OMG – me and my boyfriend Alex are getting married! (this card was drawn by my awesome friend Jenny).

I’m so excited and happy about it. He got me a beautiful ring from the lovely Sarah of Rockcakes, who we met at one of Zoe’s Brighton Craftaganza events, so there’s a nice sewing connection there.

So when you tell people that you’re engaged they ask two things. Firstly: ‘Have you got a date?’ and secondly ‘What are you going to wear?’ Well we have a date, and even a venue – next July in Edinburgh – but I have no idea about the second part of the equation.

I’m not keen on the classic strapless a-line behemoth costing the same as a second-hand car. I look terrible in strapless because of my weird bony shoulder blades, and white doesn’t really suit me either. But I’m not sure what I do want. I’m keen on the three S’s: sleeves, sparkle, and swishability (yes that is a word). And I’m thinking either home-made or vintage.

My favourite celebrity wedding dresses are all ridiculous ones from the 60s and 70s, when people seemed a bit less uptight about the whole thing. Check out Cilla Black’s mod-tastic wedding dress:

Surprise surprise!
Surprise surprise!

I’ve seen lots of seamstresses make amazing wedding dresses – Zoe’s emerald extravaganza, this gorgeous layered creation from Moonbeam, and Elisalex’s beautiful Jenny Packham-esque number for a friend.  And I’d love to make my own. But I don’t know if my sewing skills are up to it.

Let’s face it, unless you’re a celebrity or commit some kind of hideous crime, your wedding day is going to be the most-photographed, most stared-at occasion of your entire life. So you want to look at least half-decent.

I do have two possible styles in mind. Check out my Pinterest board for lots of little 60s lace numbers, which I love and think would be easy-ish to sew, but I’m not sure if they actually suit the taller pear-shaped lady (that’s me, if you hadn’t guessed).

This photo is from Rock and Roll Bride, by James Melia Photography
This photo is from Rock and Roll Bride, by James Melia Photography

The other dresses I like are the opposite end of the decade – drapey, silk crepe, 70s style. I think this would be deceptively tricky to fit and sew though. I’m no Ossie Clark, that’s for sure.

This photo is from Get Some Vintage-a-Peel (click to view), who is an expert on 70s fashion
This photo is from Get Some Vintage-a-Peel (click to view), who is an expert on 70s fashion

Neither of these would be much good for dancing, which is an important consideration for a Scottish wedding that includes a ceilidh. So the third option would be something with a huge, ballerina style layered skirt.

But where do I start? I’m feeling a bit stuck right now. Have you ever made a wedding dress, or any other important dress with a capital D? How did you do it? And do you fancy playing either Trinny or Susannah and suggesting what might actually suit me?

Book Giveaway: DIY Fashionista by Geneva Vanderzeil

I read a lot of DIY blogs, as you might have gathered from this post. But my absolute favourite is A Pair and a Spare, by Geneva Vanderzeil. She’s got amazing style, her projects are always simple and inventive, and she avoids that ‘I’ve got a glue gun and I’m not afraid to use it’ look that plagues some of the other DIY crew.

So when I saw she had a book out, I asked the publishers to send me a copy, which they very kindly did. And in the spirit of Christmas I’ve got another copy to give away to someone who reads this blog!

I’ve got a fair amount of DIY/beginner craft tomes (mostly presents from well-meaning relatives) which are mostly pretty useless. But I really rate this book, for a few reasons.

DIY Fashionista

Firstly all the projects have great photos and really good step by step instructions. It’s a pet peeve of mine when DIY books have incredibly vague guidelines on how they actually made something (like this one). It’s so frustrating and puts you off ever trying any of the projects.

Not all the ideas in the book are new – if you read the blog, you’ll have seen some before, like this summer dress project, which inspired this awesome version by Elisalex on Stitch Me Softly. But they’ve all been re-photographed with more instructions.


The sewing skills needed for the projects are absolutely minimal – this is not the book for you if you’re a hardcore sewing technique hound. But there’s inspiration galore for upgrading the projects if you have a bit of skill. For example these silk shorts with lace on the bottom and velvet ribbon belt – you could make the shorts yourself rather than using a thrifted version.


There’s a very simple maxi-skirt tutorial which looks great and reminds me that I keep meaning to make one of these.


Secondly, what I liked about this book is the fresh perspective. There’s so much to learn if you get into making clothes that it’s easy to get caught up in technique and forget about the overall look. Often it’s the last details that totally make a project (as you’ll know if you’ve ever deliberated for hours over which buttons to choose). Geneva has a great eye for these.


I really like this denim shirt with a leather collar, which is actually glued on to the existing one.


The first part of the book is all about re-fashioning, which I am bad at, although I always like seeing what amazing bloggers like Zoe and Miss P make. But I love the idea of this ‘Boyfriend-shirt skirt’, and you can often find good quality men’s shirts second-hand. It would look awesome in a plaid flannel. Again it’s very easy to make, just gathered with elastic at the top.

Some of the projects are pretty inventive. This is a chain sewn on to a silk top to make a Peter Pan silhouette, which you could just as easily adapt to a self-sewn project like the Grainline Scout Tee or a Sorbetto minus the pleats.


And how about this Peter Pan collar necklace? It’s genius.


The other thing I really like about this book is the message behind it – you don’t have to spend loads of money on new clothes to be interested in fashion and trends. There’s an awareness of consumption and sustainability issues. Check out Geneva’s reasons for DIY-ing, which all ring true to me:


This would make an awesome Christmas present for someone you know who’s into fashion but daunted by the idea of making their own clothes. It’s a nice-quality hardback and the pictures are lovely:


It’s published by Carlton Books at £16.99, and you can get it from

Or you can leave a comment below to win a copy! The deadline for this is the end of next Thursday, the 13th December. You can enter from anywhere in the world, although if you’re not in the UK you might not get it for Christmas (but it’ll cheer up those January blues at least).