Colour, New Look 6699, Sewing, Wedding, Women's Style

Sewing: Lesley’s Dress – Part 2

Here’s the second dress I made for Lesley – the proper dress, rather than the toile I blogged about last time.

A deep breath before cutting into the 30-year-old fabric!!IMG_2015

After making the ‘test dress’ to check the fit, making up the silk dress for Lesley was a breeze.  As there was enough fabric, I decided to line the bodice in silk too.  There is nothing worse than wearing a beautiful dress and the lining keeps peeping out on display.  I wanted to ensure that didn’t happen with this dress which Lesley planned to wear for her best friend’s wedding.

IMG_2047 Here’s the completed bodice before the bust gathers went in.  oops, you can see my pile of patterns behind the ironing board!  These are new purchases ready to be made.

Lesley has a dramaIMG_2050tic personality so I bought some bright pink lining fabric for the skirt.

The only alterations I made to this dress was to trim down the waist by a couple of centimetres and after a fitting session with Lesley I made an alterIMG_2048ation to the pinch some fabric from under the side seam to prevent gaping.  The shoulder straps were fitted to Lesley too so the fit was as good as possible.   I used tailors tacks rather than making marks on the fabric – I didn’t want to risk doing anything to damage the delicate fabric.

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Here’s the completed dress and Lesley trying it on.  The colour – a bright coral – suits her perfectly.  The full length sheath dress helps to give Lesley height and it shows off her curves beautifully.

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And here she is on the day of  the wedding with matching fascinator and shoes.  Looking gorgeous Lesley!  Here’s the message she sent me “I loved my dress ….. I felt very glamorous and very special xxxxxxxxxxxx”

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Colour, New Look 6699, Sewing, Sheath Dress, Women's Style

Sewing: Lesley’s Dress – Part 1

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front just recently.  That’s because everything has been so busy; work, social life, family and sewing.  Here’s an update on what I have been sewing lately.

My friend Lesley had been watching and commenting on my blog posts as I started to sew again after a 20+ year hiatus.  She got in touch and asked if I would make her a dress.  I am very comfortable experimenting for me or my family, but how would I get on making something for someone else?  Lesley then told me that she had a piece of fabric in her wardrobe that she would like me to use.  She was given it 30 years ago and it is a piece of raw silk from India.  Oh, and she wanted to wear the dress for her best friend’s wedding!  No pressure then!!

IMG_2192Lesley came over one evening to show me the fabric.  She had just over two metres and she wanted a simple style long dress.  We sat browsing suitable patterns on line and this is what we selected.  New Look 6699.  It’s a mix and match pattern, where you are able to select different bodice and skirt combinations for your desired look.  We selected G, J and L.  Similar to the white dress at the top – just without the sash and corsage.  I needed to elongate the pattern as Lesley wanted full length.

I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, but with the 30 year-old silk in mind, with no way of replacing it if I made a mistake, I decided to make a practice dress, or a toile to give it it’s technical name!  Often a toile is made from a piece of cheap calico just to get the fit right and to allow any alterations to be made to the pattern before making the actual dress.  In this case, I felt that if I was going to the trouble of making a toile, it may as well be one Lesley could wear too.  She was really happy for me to go ahead with the toile and gave me carte blanche to select the fabric for her.

I had already analysed Lesley and her colouring is bright and light and she has signs of both cool and warmth in her colouring.  She has a dramatic personality and a semi-straight body shape – which means that she has waist shapingIMG_1921 and nice slim legs.  Medium to large patterns suit Lesley, but with her dramatic personality I chose this fabulous piece of cotton with some spandex for stretch.  The colour of the tulips are perfect for Lesley as they have the cool pink and the warm yellowy-orange too.  This is a similar weight fabric to the silk and should give me a good idea of how it will perform when made up too.  I went along to Harlequin Fabrics in Leamington Spa to select this.  They are always so helpful in there.  They have a wide range of fabric to choose from and it is displayed really well so that it is easy to see what they have.  I also bought the lining fabric and zips for both dresses.

I thought the pattern might be tricky to work with as there are so many bodice/skirt combinations, but it was actually very well laid out and easy to follow.  I went through it initially with my highlighter pen, marking the sections that were relevant to the options we had chosen.  I was keen to make up the bodice and get Lesley over to try it on.  I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you that she has a rather full bust, so I wondered whether the size I selected was going to fit correctly.  So I made up and lined the bodice for her to try on first of all.  It fitted perfectly and the only thing I had to alter were the straps – I had left these open so I could check them on Lesley and then make them the correct length.  She is perfectly in proportion, with her torso and legs being the same length – she was thrilled when she found this out and it is actually quite rare!  It’s the reason ready to wear does not often fit well as they are generally made for standard proportions and of course most of us are not!

FullSizeRenderThe dress is a fairly simple construction, with just three main pieces – a bodice, a midriff section and the skirt.  I quickly made up the rest of the dress, lining it and adding the zip in the centre back.  Lesley then came back to try it on.  We made a couple of alterations to slim the waist (on the midriff section) as Lesley had been loosing weight ready for the wedding!  Here she is modelling the dress with the fascinator she planned to wear for the wedding.  She loved this dress so much, she considered wearing this one instead!!  Good job I didn’t make it in calico after all!!

As you can see, it’s a perfect fit and Lesley was delighted with the dress I’m pleased to say!  The sheath dress is a great stye for her.  It fits her body shape really well and being a long dress it is both elongating and slimming.  The broader straps are a good choice too – keep everything in the correct scale to suit Lesley.

Here are a few more views of the dress – it looks so much better on Lesley though!  So the first of my ‘Lyndy-Lou’ designs is complete!  I thoroughly enjoyed making this dress for Lesley and it was great to see her as she popped over to try it on during the process!  I’ll blog about the silk dress next weekend.

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Colour, Men's Style, Wardrobe Detox, Women's Style

I got dressed in the dark!

We have all heard that expression – ‘did you get dressed in the dark?’  It’s meant to infer that the person didn’t put their look together well.  Yesterday morning, I did in fact get dressed in the dark.  My hubby landed late the night before after a golf trip, so I was being considerate and leaving him for a lie in.  The temptation to put all the lights on was immense, but I resisted!

My wardrobe is organised in such a way that getting dressed in the dark was an easy job.  Everything has a place and I can easily tell you where anything is at any time.  All my clothes are hung by type i.e. all the dresses together, all the trousers together etc.  All the tops are folded on shelves at the top and shirts hang up all together.

All of my colour schemes work together, so that every bottom half works with every top half.  It was a casual day, so I could easily pull out a pair of jeans (blue) and top (cool pink) and a casual blue jacket.  Easy peasy.  I even managed to select my jewellery which is also either on hangers or in the boxes they came in.

The job of a wardrobe that works well in terms of colour, personality, lifestyle and body shape should be really easy.  You shouldn’t  have to think too hard about what to put on in the morning.  Indeed, some leaders wear a uniform that is the same every day so they don’t need to make decisions on what they wear in the morning!  That’s a bit extreme for me as I do love variety and I choose my clothes according to how I feel too.

WardrobeIf you spend far too long worrying about what to wear, perhaps now is the right time to detox your wardrobe!  You will see an earlier blog about this from Integro Consultants.  If you need help, one of our consultants will be delighted to guide you through it.  Once you know what works for you life is very easy (well knowing what to wear anyway!)  It helps you to loot good, feel more confident and it helps you to save time and money.  You will no longer buy items that don’t work for you and just sit un-loved and un-worn in your wardrobe.

How is your wardrobe working for you?

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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.

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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

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Colour, Colour Psychology, Confidence

Colour Psychology – Blue

Blue is a great colour for business as it stands for:

  • Clear Communication
  • Intelligence
  • Trustworthy
  • Conservative (with a small ‘c’)
  • Credible
  • Efficient
Speaking at the Women Working in Construction Event 2012

Speaking at the Women Working in Construction Event 2012

Here I am wearing a cobalt blue dress when I spoke at a Women Working in Construction event in 2012.  Teamed with my accessories, it looks less formal, even though the style of the dress is quite corporate.  I had it made in Shanghai, just in case you were wondering!

My aim was to stand out, as I was the speaker, to nod to corporate style, but not to be dressed the same as everyone else at the event.  You can see that corporate coloured suits was the main theme for the attendees, with the odd pop of colour.  I was there speaking about ‘Maximising Your Personal Brand’ – so there was no use blending in!

What does the colour blue conjure up for you?  Most people think of the blue they see around them in nature – the sky, the sea, blue eyes and blue flowers.  Maybe with the popularity of blue jeans, it has become a very prolific colour for us to wear too.  In corporate life, the neutrals used in suiting fabric tend to be black, grey and blue, with deeper blues erring on the more formal authoritative side.

We use blue in our language too – here are a few for you to consider:

  • Blue blood – to mean nobility
  • Blue movies – to indicate x-rated content!  It stems from ‘blue laws’ that existed many years ago and it is the same as Sunday Laws – to ban trading on the Sabbath.  Of course, this no longer exists, but the term ‘blue’ was adopted to mean prohibited.
  • Blue gowns – prostitutes
  • Bluestockings – learned ladies – stemming from 1750

Everyone can wear blue, but different shades may be appropriate depending upon your natural colouring.  They can be categorised into:

Deep and light

Cool and warm

Bright and muted.

There will be a shade that suits you best!  Which do you think it might be?

Blue DeepBlue light  Blue BrightBlue WarmBlue Cool Blue Muted

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 training and workshops or one-to-one coaching.  First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK and in 20 countries around the world– 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

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Body Shape, Colour, Fabrickated, Fitting, Lyn Bromley, Sewing

Lyn learns to sew!

I have just had the most fabulous three days. I have been learning to dress-make. Well, re-learning really. I used to make clothes when I was in my teens and early 20’s. Then I got busy in corporate life and didn’t make the time. I love clothes and find the construction fascinating. It made me realize that we often put up with imperfections in our clothing because they are the closest we can get with off-the-peg outfits. The magic of hand-made is that they can fit your form perfectly – no compromise necessary at all.

I spent the weekend with the lovely Kate Davies – she has her own wonderful blog – www.fabrickated.com The intention was to make a wrap dress using Vogue pattern V8379 which Kate has already constructed several times before.

I started by selecting fabric in preparation for my trip – that’s not so easy! I went to 5 different shops to find what I was looking for. I was looking for something cool and bright. Not easy to find during the winter when most fabrics are deep and muted! I eventually settled on a cool pink that is slightly deeper than I would have liked, but it works and was the best of the selection available. I was looking for jersey and there are so many choices – mixes of polyester, elastane, viscose, silk and bamboo. Of course, the man-made options are much cheaper and for a first attempt was probably where I should have pitched it. The choices on offer were not great in terms of colour, so I pushed the boat out and went for a bamboo (95%) and elastane (5%). It is a lovely firm jersey – some of the alternatives were just too flimsy and upon being stretched, did not spring back into shape well. Had I chosen them, I would have had a nice bottom shape in the dress after sitting down for half an hour – not that attractive, although cheaper. I decided on balance, that I would rather pay a bit more and be able to wear the finished product, rather than go for a cheaper option and not really want to wear it. I was also pretty confident that with Kate’s help I’d be able to have a pretty decent bash at it and I always find that if I start out assuming that I am going to succeed, I definitely stand more of a chance of success!

The revelation to me was that we started by taking all of my measurements, comparing them to the standard ones on the pattern and then adjusting it to fit me completely. Quite obvious when you think about it, no wonder my teenage attempts at trousers cut straight from the pattern were disastrous really! We discovered that I am fairly close to off-the-peg, except for a couple of adjustments that were a few inches different – fairly significant and explains why off-the-peg fits in some brands and not in others.

We pinned the pattern and then started cutting out – fairly scary.   At this point there is no going back! My cutting skills need to be sharpened up, but it became easier the more I did, guided by the ever skillful Kate.

The sewing was great fun – it’s so quick. I realized that the preparation, in terms of good planning of where to pin the pattern pieces to get the most out of the fabric, creating marks on the fabric to show where things such as darts, pleats, centre back and front, are really quite important and make for a better finished garment. I made a few mistakes on the machining – catching fabric from behind where it should not have been and getting too quick and sewing wonky lines to name a few!

My favourite gadget was the overlocker. It gives a really professional finish. It is unforgiving through, as it cuts off the excess fabric and stitches at the same time – so no room for error at all. I quite liked this and was happy to take the risk, given the alternative of double stitching, which, for a beginner is also quite tricky. The objective is to sew two parallel lines – keeping them even and straight. This seemed like a bigger challenge than overlocking. I did try both and noticed that where there was the opportunity to try it twice, my second attempt was always better.

The pattern we used was deemed to be ‘very easy’ by the manufacturer. I realized that they actually assume a high degree of prior knowledge. Many of the instructions are brief and not explicit enough, despite my previous experience, albeit a long time ago. My machine skills stood me in good stead, I have at least made curtains and blinds in the last decade, so I remembered how to sew. It was more about being reminded of the pattern markings and interpreting their brief instructions. I am sure there would have been much more unpicking if I had been left to my own devices! The beauty of it was that Kate has at least three of these dresses in her wardrobe, so we were able to look at the finished garment, so I could see what I was aiming for.

Adding interfacing

Here I am basting the interfacing to the collar and neck of the dress.

This was another important lesson. Previously, as a complete amateur, I would have pinned, then sewed. Kate taught me the importance of basting – this is a long running stitch that holds the two pieces of fabric together, allowing the pins to be removed. It really holds the pieces together much better and avoids any damage to the machine by sewing over pins inadvertently. It gives a much better finished item and a step very well worth adding.

Sewing

Look at that concentration! I loved Kate’s sewing corner – it’s a really inspirational place to be, with everything I needed close to hand – including Kate’s wonderful husband who kept us fed and watered all weekend! It was like ‘Sewing Bee’ meets ‘Master Chef’!

Finished dress

I couldn’t believe how quickly the dress came together in the end. We seemed to be working on it piece by piece and suddenly to whole dress came together. I am delighted with the finished dress – it fits perfectly. Here is the top half – the bottom still had tailor’s tacks in it, so the full-length dress picture is me back at home after a good press.

Wrap Dress

How satisfying it is to make something from scratch.   I shall definitely be dusting off my machine and maybe even signing up for some classes to learn more. Now I have a perfectly fitting dress, I’m not sure I want to compromise with shop bought.

Measuring hem

Thank you Kate for teaching me so much.  Here she is showing me how to measure the hem from the floor up to get an accurate hem all the way around.

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Colour, Confidence, Dress, First Impressions, Lyn Bromley, Women

New Year’s Eve Dress Shopping

There are still five full days to go until New Year’s Eve.   Are you still looking for that perfect party dress?  If you already know what suit you in terms of colour (yes, there are more choices than just black!) and style, it can sometimes be tricky to find something that ticks all the boxes.  I especially find this once the sales are on – there will be a reduced selection out there and many of the best ones will have already gone.  It just means that you need to look a bit harder and there may well be a gem of a dress waiting to be discovered.  Here is my own personal search for a dress for the party season.

My ideal dress would be a cool and bright colour – one which has a blue undertone and a vibrant quality to its colour.  It would have an angular neckline, so either a ‘V’ or a slash neck, it would be fitted in at the waist and either a full skirt (1940’s style) or a gradual A line – I don’t favour the full A line, even thought I could wear one.  I could also go for a pencil, albeit, it has to be one with some shaping from the waist with a curve to it to skim my hips.

My search starts with colour first – it’s a really quick way to eliminate what is not right for you straight off and saves lots of time. So for me, I scan the rails for cool and bright shades – I particularly love reds, pinks, blues, purples and I also love silver.  At this time of year there are so many dark shades – lots of blacks, charcoals, deep reds, purples and of course lots of forest green.  All of which are too deep for me, so they are ruled out straight away!

Once I find a colour I like, I take it off the rail and look at the design.  I’ll specifically look at the neckline, the waist, the length and any particular design details – i.e. for me, I wouldn’t want any large pockets on my hips (my widest part!) they would just draw attention to an area that I don’t want to highlight.  I’d much rather have definition at the waist with a belt, ruching, or embellishment.  Some consultants would say that you need to tick all of those boxes, for me, I like to break the rules, so as long as it fits the majority, I’m happy.  It makes sense to make the most of your figure so you look and feel your best right?

Here is what I found – a lovely Coast dress – Lianna lace dress.  It was originally £125 and I got it for £49 in the sale – bargain! The colour is perfect for me – it is actually pink, but looks red on the computer screen – do watch out for that – colours can look deceptively different on screen.  Lianna Coast DressI ordered another one recently from House of Fraser – it looked bright red and when it came it was deeper and much more muted – needless to say, it’s going back!  I had ordered it on click and collect, so no postage or return charges.  Do watch out for that when sale shopping, you can get stung on the postage costs if you are not careful.  Many stores will allow you to order on line and have them delivered to their local store at no cost.

Anyway, I digress, the shape is great -waist definition, shaped around the hips and flattering for my body shape.  The neckline is not perfect – it would be better as a V-neck for me, but I do like this draped neckline and it is not too curved – it actually sits quite straight when it is on.

The main acid test for me – when I put it on I loved it!  I already wore it to a Christmas party and I’m planning on wearing it for New Year’s Eve too.  Enjoy your dress shopping and don’t settle for something in a fit of adrenaline that you will never wear again!  It’s only a bargain if you wear it and it works with other things in your wardrobe.  I have a lovely fake fur jacket in cool silver grey and strappy silver heels to go with mine.  I also added an angular brooch to add a bit more of an angular look to the dress.  Happy shopping!

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