PJ's, Sewing, Tilly and the Buttons, Vintage

Sewing: Vintage Pattern PJ’s

We really are on a roll with our sewing and I love that my daughter, Gracie, is involved.  We’ve had a really busy week, so we have had to wait until the weekend to sew again!  I mentioned last week that she had selected a pair of PJ bottoms from ‘Love at First Stitch‘ by Tilly Walnes.  She wanted shorts and I opted for full length as I won’t wear mine for slPJ Fabriceeping, more for lounging!

We love the fabric.  There was a gorgeous 1940’s print with ladies in nipped-in-at-the-waist suits.  We didn’t like the colours on the fabric as much though – they were quite muted, otherwise we would have gone for that.  We liked the bright pink and green in this fabric.  I wonder if it qualifies for the #vintagepledge as it is using vintage inspired fabric.

We began by tracing the pattern from the book onto tracing paper.  We did find time to cut them out during the week, so we could just get straight on with the sewing this morning.

Here are Gracie’s shorts.  She is really pleased with them and did most of the sewing herself!  She wanted them lower on her waist, so I might just reduce the length if we make them again.IMG_1132

Mine went together really easily – it really is a very simple pattern.  The only change we made was to put elastic in the waist rather than making a cord as suggested in the book.  I wish I had put pockets in too – useful for my phone!  I may even unpick a bit of the side seam and insert some.  I had cut out the pattern piePJs Lyn and Gracece and got carried away and forgot to inset them!

Here we are together in our matching PJ’s!!  Oh my goodness – she is nearly as tall as me.  Gracie also fashioned a headband out of the remnants which she stitched all by herself too.


A really interesting blog by Kate Davies. I know many of our First Imoressions consultants will like to read this. We love seeing behind the scenes.

Fit and Flare

This is my friend Yuka who works for a well known high street boutique.

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We met for lunch, but before that she treated me to a look around the works. The company was sensitive to the issue of design copyright, so I won’t mention their name or show the design process. I will focus on the pattern cutting and sample making.

Here is Denise, working from a sketch, making a blouse pattern on the company software. She usually starts with the block, but sometimes designs from scratch or by modelling on the stand. Once the pattern is finished she checks it by making a half toile in a cotton. When it is finally right this file gets zipped up and sent to the manufacturer who can be in China, India or elsewhere.

The other patten cutter was Anne, who does some flat patten cutting on paper and most of the draping…

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Commercial pattern cutting – an insight into the trade

Colour, Colour Psychology, First Impressions, Purple

Colour Psychology: The Colour Purple

At First Impressions we love purple.  We chose it as out brand colour, so we would say that wouldn’t we?!

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  • Purple stands for:
  • Creative
  • Confident
  • Innovative
  • High Quality
  • Authentic
  • Successful
  • Royalty

With purple being a mix of red and blue, it is neither overtly masculine or feminine, so a great colour for us to use as we work with both men and women.

I also love my purple dress made by the fabulous Camelle Daily of House of Ilona.  Here I am in an historic photograph with founder of First Impressions Judith Halpin (centre) and second owner, Julia Campion (left).  I am proud to be the third owner of the 30 year-old business.


All great traits to be associated with!

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions  Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Director of Regional Events at FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women. Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching.  First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map. Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038 Email: enquiries@firstimpressions.uk.com Website: www.firstimpressions.uk.com


Member’s Monday – London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2015 Day 3 – by Emma Russell

Finally, the third part of Emma’s blog – a recount of Sunday at LFW.   This is my personal favourite day!

I knew that Day three of London Fashion Week AW15 was going to be a difficult one, SO much to choose from! SO many of my favourite designers! Who do I feature? How do I narrow down my choices? Decisions decisions! Luckily for me the early evening shows still haven’t uploaded their images, so I’m forced to split the blog in two, meaning I don’t have to miss anyone out! Yippee! So far my words of the day are Volume, Detail, Seventies, asymmetric and Intricate. The volumous shapes are a continuing theme throughout LFW as are the seventies influences, bringing the trend through both Spring Summer and Autumn Winter. This trend is seen through the fringing and the volumous maxi skirts and dresses . Alice Temperley & Preen reliably featured detailed, intricate, delicate fabrics and embroidery again hinting at the 1970’s. Asymmetric hems with and without ruffle detailing are also an emerging trend. Preen by Thornton Bregazzi featured bright prints and 3D florals, the intricate detailing of the pieces I’ve included here would normally be more indicative of Spring Summer rather than Autumn Winter, I guess Thornton Bregazzi wanted us to have a little sunshine in the darker months.

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Matthew Williamson is a reliable stalwart of the red carpet, the first two looks I’ve included could easily be seen on tonight’s Oscars Red Carpet. I love the oriental influences to the colours and patterns, the seventies fringing is hinted at through the footwear but the era is truly delivered through the fur collared frock, the volumous maxi dresses and even the intricate silk and chiffon prints.

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Temperley London hinted at the seventies with this velvet blazer reminiscent of one my mum had, teamed with the intricately embroidered mesh dress and scarf is a beautiful use of monochrome colouring.
More volume through the width of the trousers and the length of the tunic tops and coats, the camel and grey tone on tone looks will give height and elongate despite the volumous proportions just be careful wearing this look if you’re under 5ft 5in as it may well swamp you.
Alice also brings her red carpet worthy looks with my final two choices, I could see Angelina Jolie and Kate Hudson in these.

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Amanda Wakeley had a more tailored approach to her collection, compared to the whimsical feminine looks featured by Temperley and Matthew Williamson. Again the coats and jackets are big and bold, boyfriend style even. The fringed dresses are more pert and sexy than the previous looks, slightly more rock chick than seventies.

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Mary featured what can only be described as flippy flamenco style skirts crossed with a bit of Star Trek.. A bizarre description I know but see if yourself, it’s the waistband which prompts the description but there is something I really like about this piece.
I think it’s fun and different, the obvious applies that this will appeal to those with a more dramatic taste when it comes to their clothes as this really is a head turner.


But when you see the same skirt teamed with a jumper, albeit a canary yellow one the look isn’t quite as dramatic. I think it’s an interesting take on the skirt shape, let’s face it we’ve had every variation when it comes to skirt styles so it’s quite nice to have something different but have to admit I’m pleased we’re not going back to the ’80’s RaRa style.


Another lovely yellow piece is this drop waist dress, I love how Mary has taken Brocade a fabric you tend to see in really dark colours making the piece look really heavy, and used two different patterns in the same hue and used the brightest colour she could find to lift this normally gothic fabric.


Finally it wouldn’t be a Mary Katrantzou show without some prints, again Mary has taken another traditional piece like these Duffel coats and given them a fun twist with these beautiful prints. I particularly love this pink/purple one!

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I was thrilled to see a move away from the mainly Seventies vibe I’ve been feeling so far through this week, when I saw the Jonathan Saunders show.
If Tom Ford channelled a boyhood love of Barberella in his SS15 show, Jonathan has gone for 1960’s Mods & Quadrophenia with his AW15 collection. I love these very simple shift style dresses and coats, each featuring a little shape at the waist and hips meaning you don’t have to be a stick insect to where them (unlike the models). I especially like the mixing of the checks and the stripes, just always be conscious of horizontal stripes on your bottom half as they will give the appearance of shorter legs and of course will widen your bum.

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I can totally see these looks transferring down onto the High Street, in many outlets, or if all else fails check out your mum’s wardrobe see if there are any ’60’s beauties lurking at the back.

So what’s been your favourite show or look so far during London Fashion Week? Have you seen any trends that you think you could wear? Any that you think are totally mad and you wouldn’t possible wear it! Comment on my Facebook link or tweet me @stylissimouk

Last but by no means least, the wonderfully bonkers Vivienne Westwood Red Label Collection. While the majority was the afore mentioned mad and slightly bonkers collection, these two pieces are amazing. Probably because they hint at what made Vivienne so well known, the structured shoulders, amazing tailoring and corsetry. In my eyes Miss Westwood you will always be a living legend no matter how bizarre your rants are on social media.

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Member’s Monday – London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2015 Day 2 – by Emma Russell

Here is day two – of our Member’s Monday blog by Emma Russell – there was so much good stuff, we couldn’t resist sharing!

Day two of London Fashion Week featured all ends of the spectrum from the calm muted pastel tones of Emilia Wickstead to the down right bonkers Sibling and Henry Holland. If either of the later designers have anything to say Autumn Winter this year will be eye popping psychedelic colours in lurex with fur trims. Henry may have the celeb entourage but I’m not quite sure it will have mass cut through on the High Street if I’m perfectly honest.
Jasper Conran was one designer today who on the other hand I can see drawing through and influencing the likes of Boden and Zara.
His deep autumnal tones, tone on tone pallete, simple striking patterns and his simple unfussy shapes are great for those of us with little shape to our hips. These are classic looks you could wear year after year without them dating.

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Finally Lucas Nascimento pushed my boundaries some what, at first I wasn’t sure about his collection but it grew on me. I like the way the colours in each outfit blend and compliment each other, the layered coat look with the pattern sneaking out garnering your approval and interest. Hidden just enough not to over power, but prominent enough to make a bold statement. This look would be over powering on someone of my height (5ft 2in) which is possibly why I didn’t immediately warm to it, but if you have the height I’m certain this is a great look elongating you making you look even taller.

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Tomorrow proves to be a busy one for LFW so many of my favourite designers feature tomorrow I fear it may be a long blog or I may be forced to be super selective picking only my favourite pieces from each of them. Hhhhmmm decisions decisions..
Oh and the small matter of the biggest Red Carpet event of the year, The 2015 Oscars! Who will deliver and who will bomb? I’ll feature my best & worst right here.
Source with thanks to http://www.londonfashionweek.co.uk and http://www.catwalking.com

Leopard Print, Sewing, Vintage

Sewing: A Vintage Affaire

I bought this pattern – the Eliza Dress from Eliza M Vintage and I fully intended to make it up in the summer.  It’s far too early to be wearing a dress like this just yet.  Having finished all of my other projects I just couldn’t wait to get started on another!

teal-blue-animal-print-100-viscose-dress-fabricI bought some fabric and cotton from Minerva Crafts so I could get started.

This is viscose.  It is quite flimsy and had I selected the fabric in a shop rather than on-line, I would have gone for something a little sturdier.  I found that this fabric frays easily, so all the seams needed to be zig-zagged as I don’t have an overlocker.  (I can see one going on my birthday list!!) Although using a zig-zag stitch to finish off the seams is a perfectly acceptable method, I still find that it looks a little untidy and would prefer to have the neat edge of an overlocker.

My cutting out accuracy needs to be improved too!  I thought that I had been accurate with this, but on making up the side seams, the back is a little longer than the front – about 1cm, so I will need to measure and re-cut the hem before sewing.  I have been watching the sewing bee and like the look of the cutting tool they use – it looks easier and more accurate than scissors.  What is your experience?  I can see that I could easily waste money on buying gadgets that I don’t really need!!

The pattern was pretty easy to follow.  The only thing I was unsure of was when I came to attach the bodice to the skirt, there was much more fabric in the skirt.  The pattern didn’t advise how to cope with this, so I just ‘eased’ it in.  I did end up with one little tuck which I couldn’t avoid, so I need to practice this technique more too.  Perhaps I should have tacked it before sewing.  I just pinned it and went fIMG_1119or it!IMG_1123

It was my first attempt at a concealed zip too.  I even tacked it before sewing.   I watched a couple of Youtube videos and went for it.  It has worked really well.  I just need to add a hook and eye at the top to finish it off.  I wasn’t quite sure where to start the zip – next time I would place it higher up.  I didn’t attempt pattern matching, so might think about that next time too.

The finished garment fits pretty well.  If I make the pattern up again I would add length to the bodice – it is a little short in the waist for me.  I shall get around it by adding a belt so you can’t see where it joins.

The other learning poiIMG_1120nt for me was while cutting out nicks in the curved part of the underarm seam allowance, I realised that as I pulled the small triangles out, it pulled the fabric.  There are small ‘runs’ in the pattern now – luckily all hidden under the arm, but will remember to be more careful and accurate with this next time.

As Gracie (my daughter) enjoyed sewing her circle skirt so much, I bought her the ‘Love at First Stitch’ book by Tilly Walnes.  I thought the modern designs would inspire her.  Actually, she hasn’t had a look in; I haven’t put it down!!  We have selected the Margot Pyjama bottoms to make next.  Grace would like us to make matching ones -shorts for her and long ones for me.  I also really like the Delphine Skirt.  So it’s off to the fabric shop today to find some more gems!

I’ll post a pic of the finished dress when I have done the hem.  Here it is up to this point.  I need to enlist some help to measure and mark the hem before I can finish it off and my lot are all looking a bit sleepy this morning! 🙂 IMG_1121

Air Brushing, Body Confidence, Body Image, Cindy Crawford, Confidence, First Impressions

Body Confidence: Cindy Crawford’s Tummy Makes an Impression!

Cindy CrawfordWhat do you feel when you look at this image?  It has caused a huge amount of discussion over the last few days, almost breaking Twitter! It is a photograph of Cindy Crawford, which is reputed to have been leaked from an earlier photo shoot for Marie Claire. The shot has not been airbrushed or photo-shopped at all.  It may come as quite a shock, even to adults, that most images we see in magazines have been enhanced in some way.

We’ve become conditioned to look at photographs that are perceived as ‘flawless’ or ‘perfect’.  In who’s eyes I wonder. The reaction by many people, particularly women, has been one of relief!  “Thank goodness, even super models have stretch marks”.  “She looks more ‘normal”. I believe that this could send a great message out to everyone – particularly our daughters.  Do we really want them to be measuring themselves against an idealised image of artistic perfection shown in many magazines?  When I talk about body confidence in schools, pupils are pretty savvy to the fact that airbrushing happens.  They love the before and after pictures and enjoy spotting the differences and exactly what has been altered. Every time I run this exercise, even with children as young as 11, they are all shocked by the degree of image manipulation that happens. They often feel cross that companies dupe us into thinking that the images are real life.

Isn’t it about time someone as influential as Cindy showed us what it is really like? If she chose to do this, I’m really pleased.  If she didn’t choose and someone leaked it, I’m still pleased it’s out in the open and Cindy seems to be pretty gracious about it – I for one have been banging the drum for transparency and authenticity for years!  Most importantly, she looks confident and self assured, qualities to be proud of in any woman. In a recent interview she said  “I really think—at any age—it’s learning to be comfortable in your own skin. …If women would treat themselves with the same kind of love they give to their friends, that would be such a great gift we could give ourselves. …What makes you the most attractive is self-confidence. That’s what people see.”

Many women we work with have issues with their self-image and confidence. They believe the myth that the media creates and they strive for an unattainable look. The key to being self-confident is to accept yourself the way you are and to make the most of of your natural beauty – just as Cindy Crawford is doing here.

What do you think of the image? – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions  Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Director of Regional Events at FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women. Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching.  First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map. Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038 Email: enquiries@firstimpressions.uk.com Website: www.firstimpressions.uk.com