The Rainbow Queen

I’m not exactly the world’s most ardent monarchist, but there’s one aspect of the Royal Family I will always have a soft spot for.

The Queen’s outfits!

The Queen was working the block colour look many years before it appeared on the runway. And I’m pleased to announce that Vogue have finally acknowledged this, with a fantastic infographic on the back page of their May issue.

The Rainbow Queen in Vogue
Click for a huge royal close-up

My favourite bit is the line up of floral frocks to the bottom left, which looks a bit like the Queen is doing a robot dance.

I’m going to frame this and stick it on the wall to remind me to sew more with bright colours. If it’s good enough for Her Majesty, it’s certainly good enough for me.

(p.s. – if you’re into Royal outfits, you have to check out The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor, a mesmerising blog which covers in exhaustive detail every unnecessary ruffle, Euro-trashy hat, and bizarre ceremonial sash you could ever wish for)

Things I like in October

Things I want to buy, October 2011

Cream lace wedge shoes, £200
Disc jewelry, £39
John Lewis Flore Chair Wood £89
Bubble knit jumper, €49
La Petite Congolaise Cushion, £75 

I think what I like about making Polyvore sets is that it greatly reduces my impulse to go shopping.  Things look so pretty together in 2D, floating on a lovely white background, actually seeing them in reality would be a disappointment.

Anyway here are some things you should buy, or just look at and admire:

1. Cream lace wedge shoes from Clarks. I have these in beige suede and they are my favourite shoes of all time, and the only comfortable wedges I have ever found (even though everyone says that wedges are so easy to walk in. It’s all lies!). £200 for these is a ridiculous price, even if they are covered in lace and a limited edition, but I am coveting the dark blue and dark red suede versions.

2. Disc necklace from Toast. Toast are the supreme purveyor of the ‘trendy art teacher’ look – smocks, wooden jewellery, knitted tunics, and tweed. I don’t love their summer stuff but every autumn when they send me the catalogue I spend ages reading it and wishing that I was one of the moody-looking models slouching around European castles in merino knitwear (I think they’ve gone a bit too ‘feral youth’ with the catalogue cover this autumn though – see below.)

Toast catalogue cover Autumn 2011

3. John Lewis Flore Chair Wood  £89. I bought a lovely Ercol dining table off Ebay for our flat earlier this year, but to go with it we have a folding chair from IKEA and a rickety paint-stained seat we ‘borrowed’ from our old housemates (who found it in the basement). These school chairs would do nicely as a replacement.

4. Bubble knit jumper from COS, €49. My heart skipped a beat when I found out that COS have finally opened an online shop. The materials they use are incredible – look at this padded scuba skirt. They have great knitwear as well, and I would like this bright yellow bubbly jumper to make me happy throughout the winter.

5. I found La Petite Congolaise through an interior design blog. Her cushions are pretty expensive, but she does have a massive selection of African prints to choose from. If you sew these are super easy to replicate – you can buy African wax-print fabric all over London, or online. I’d love to make a wax-print cushion with denim piping (would probably make it an envelope back though, after my last traumatic experience making piped, zipped cushions).

Have you been doing any internet window shopping lately?

Autumn sewing: blouses and shirts

A/W11 Blouses
This is my first Polyvore set! I know I’m approximately 5 years too late for the Polyvore party, but it’s great, isn’t it? Saves lots of time messing around in Photoshop.
One of my A/W11 sewing resolution is to make more shirts/blouses, and there are lots around at the moment for inspiration. I’ve picked out some favourites above in a nice Autumnal colour palette. Luckily this is all fantasy shopping, as they range in price from ‘cheap as chips’, to three times more than my sewing machine cost’

I find it frustrating shopping for blouses on the high-street, as they never fit properly and they’re normally made with 100% polyester so cheap you trail a shower of static sparks whenever you move. But they’re pretty rewarding to sew; they don’t take much fabric and there’s lots to customise. It’s probably wise to avoid using too many ruffles, ribbons, and bows, in case you evoke the Grayson Perry effect, but in general you can mess around with them however you like.

I am planning on sewing one with a flat/Peter Pan collar, which is apparently big this season. The Peter Pan collar’s been around for a while – Carole Lombard was putting her name to them in the 1930s:

Carole Lombard 1930s blouse pattern
Image source: Etsy seller iandrummondvintage

They were perched on top of these AMAZING sunray darts in the 1940s (I want this pattern so much! If you are a 30 bust you must buy it)

Vintage 40s Blouse Pattern Vogue 6226 Size 12 Bust 30
Image source: Etsy seller lisaanne1960

And they went very modern in the 60s. Loving the bowl haircut on the left.

1960s Peter Pan collar mod version
Image source: Etsy seller HeyChica

I think it’s best to draw a veil over what happened to the poor Peter Pan collar in the 80s.

My plan is to use the Built By Wendy shirt pattern from the first Sew U book and add a drafted flat collar. I’ve also pre-ordered the brilliant new Jasmine pattern from Colette Patterns. I’ve been looking for something like it for ages – it reminds me a lot of the Topshop blouse which is bottom right in the collage above, but it’s bias cut so you don’t even have to sew any buttonholes. Bonus.
Do you have any favourite blouse/shirt patterns? What’s the difference between a blouse and shirt anyway?