You may have come across the famous “Hanoi train street” on Instagram, but did you know that there’s actually more than one? We visited both, wandering down narrow alleys while the community started its day.
Okay so I’ll admit, I only technically completed five out of my 2018 Make Nine - two projects were still works-in-progress as of 31 December (but hopefully to be completed soon); one ended up too daunting a prospect (so much pattern drafting!); and the perfect fabric for the planned 1940s suit eluded me for yet another year). But I did also organise a wedding and complete a dozen or so projects over the course of the year, which isn’t too bad. But on to this year’s plans!
Introducing the "Betty" outfit. One of my #2018makenine projects and a long time in the planning, this has been on my list since I saw the 1944 movie "Pin Up Girl" with Betty Grable. This year's #sewingthescene challenge on Instagram finally gave me the push I needed to bring it to life. And when I was invited to attend the Goodwood Revival I knew it was the perfect place for its debut.
I’ve written in the past of my love for Victorian glasshouses, but the palm house at Kew Gardens is surely the queen of them all - it’s one of my favourite places in London. My Kew membership allows me to take advantage of later opening times in the summer to stroll through the gardens on my walk home from work, but the glasshouses and galleries close before I get there most days. For just a few months during the high summer though, they stay open an hour later on Fridays. Getting there after the day’s crowds have departed (and away from the madness of the weekends), I often have the quiet majesty of the palm house entirely to myself.
It seemed fitting to debut my latest make, in a tropical-themed novelty print, on the final late opening of the season. And a delight to find the great glasshouse empty, silent except for our footsteps and the droplets of water splashing to the floor from lofty palms. The golden hour light, diffused through the condensation-fogged, curved glass, just added to the magic.
It was at a car boot sale several years ago that I glimpsed this bright hot pink fabric peeking out of a gigantic heap of secondhand clothes that had been dumped out of suitcases right onto the concrete. I think I paid £2 for the dress. It wasn't very exciting - a fairly shapeless 60s shift which had been shortened and let out at the seams at some point in its history. But the colour and the scribbly, atomic-era print really appealed to me. I tried selling it but it never found a buyer, and the dress eventually became a candidate for a refashioning project.
This was actually my first (successful) version of the boat-neck bodice from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book – a pattern I’ve now used multiple times in different variations. I made this one with fitting advice from Gertie herself at one of her dressmaking retreats in Beacon, NY, back in June last year. This is the dress I wore for my Masters graduation ceremony in July.
How long does it take to plan a sewing project? In the first picture I ever saw of Dita von Teese back in 2001, she wore a black vintage dress with enormous bows on the pockets and neckline - I’m guessing it’s a cusp late 30s - early 40s number. I fell in love with it instantly. Years later I came across the dress again on Pinterest, and saved it to my sewing inspiration file.
Happy Valentine's Day! I'm celebrating my "Perfect Match" (stripe matching, that is!) in my latest make.