My Handmade Style: Oonaballoona

From vintage chic to clean modern shapes, how do these seamstresses create and communicate their own unique style in their projects? What and who inspires them, from film and music to everyday life. And what’s their dream outfit?

I know I say this every time I put up a new one but this series just gets better and better! This week we have a humdinger, nay, a GRAND SLAMMER of a guest on Handmade Style. It’s the delicious, the eloquent, the beautiful, glass-always-full (except when she’s downed it) darling of the blog world Oonaballoona! Need I say more? I don’t think so. Oona – over to you.

Oona, you must have one of the most distinctive blogging styles in our corner of the internet! But how would you describe your handmade style, if you had to sum it up?

purple

if by distinctive you mean drunken, I’M YOUR GAL.

i thought a moment on this, and came up with “schizophrenic”.  so i asked ruggy.  he said “funkariffic”.  i approve wholeheartedly of both summations of my handmade style, and kind of want to put the two of them together and travel around the world singing al green covers and coloratura arias.  i think it would be appropriate to open the show in my purple space alien burdastyle dress.

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me made wardrobe

sketches

a heeeouge portion of my style inspiration absolutely comes from all the wonderful blogs in our community.  no question.  i’m either fueled by admiration or overwhelming jealousy.  they are both excellent motivators!

i also love to look at what other women are wearing when i’m at auditions (for those of you that might not know, in my secret double agent life i am not a secret double agent.  unless i’m asked to play one).  it’s interesting to see how a waiting room full of women interpret the same character, clothing wise.  there’s a casting director in town who knows i like to come in dressed exactly as i think the part should be–as you can imagine, i love her for knowing that.

and the waiting room is soooo much more fun as a fashion experiment.  i’ll sketch on my generously gifted ipad or jot notes on my script.  i always come away with ideas… and the occasional odd glare from a competitor who’s wondering why i’m staring at her waistline pleats with such insane focus.  they usually think i’m trying a mind game on them. they brighten up considerably when i chirp about their ensemble.

i try my best to channel those sketches into my wardrobe, but they often change along the way.

What’s your creative process in deciding what to make?  Is it a fabric based decision or a pattern that inspires you?

golddigger

again, schizophrenic!  whatever i say it is, the next day it will change up totally.  it’s like the chicken or the egg for me when it comes to patterns and fabric– although i will say i’ve gotten better at knowing if a fabric has to come home with me.  although, this gold craziness was a home dec fabric on sale at joann’s.  there was no question in my mind, yet the itch factor?  is RIDONKULOUS.   hopefully today, i’d at least line this sort of thing…but patterns, i can easily grab a dozen and leave them untouched for years till inspiration strikes. most times, my problem with both is that i have too many ideas, and don’t know which one idea to start on.

Who are your style icons and why?

inspcollage

i’m not sure i have icons. if we’re talking people who constantly inspire me, i’m going to go with mokosha, kazz, and david bowie.  now THAT’S a party.

music is a huge source of inspiration for me.  i sort of can’t move without it, i have to have it on to function.  the bad plus, radiohead, classic r&b, led zeppelin, fun, phoebe snow, seu jorge…

Are there any particular designers or high street stores that you use for inspiration?

sadly i don’t keep up with designers… i rely on pretty grievances to do that for me!! i’ll pin things here and there through other’s links and surfing and such.  store wise, i “dressing room shop” at those beasts h&m and F21, with the intent of getting ideas and looking at construction.  but now that you’ve asked, why in blazes aren’t i doing that at neiman marcus and the designer floor at saks?  THEY’RE WALKING DISTANCE AWAY!  okay.  be on the lookout for spyoona…

If you had to select one self stitched garment that really encapsulates your style, what would it be and why?

ack! IT IS NOT POSSIBLE!

annasuimaxi

if forced at empty bottle point, i would say my anna sui silk maxi print dress…i draped it myself, which i’m insanely proud of…and the print is sufficiently loud… but there’s so much color amiss here…come to think of it, that’s probably why i shot it against this hyper blue wall!

Why do you sew what you sew? Do you choose projects on a whim or do you look at your existing wardrobe and spot vital gaps to fill?

silverlakerainbow

here i can give you a resounding and definitive no, i do not fill vital gaps in my wardrobe.  unless you count the fact that i have nothing to wear for every new occasion that fills up our calendar and therefore Must.  Sew.  Something.  i sew what i sew because it makes me happy.  sewing “gaps” in my wardrobe (that really, i do need, i have no business casual whatsoever) just isn’t fun to me.  when i try to fill the gaps, i come up with things like this technicolor top.  tres business casual, non?

i’ve always been creative in some way, to varying degrees of success (read: and failure).  i started sewing in los angeles, as a way to keep creatively sane and happy in a very unhappy town.  so, the happy rule became part of it by practice.

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

interesting… i wonder if those who know me think i experiment with my look, or i’m just sort of crazy all the time?  risk for me is dressing more conservatively, ooh, or matching, i truly hate matching.  (unless it’s gold with gold with gold.)  these looks work great on others and i can appreciate that, i do appreciate that.  i don’t think either of these looks work for me–mostly because when i look in the mirror, i don’t feel good and happy.  and again, what’s the point of that?

i do think my last jacket was a big risk for me.   in fact, it was such a departure i ended up giving it to my mom!  it’s not the sort of style i go for on myself, and it took everything in my power to keep myself from making it into a ballgown.  i am, however, glad i made it, and i just love that mommaballoona rocks it now.

There are certain looks some of us just can’t pull off…do you have a style bugbear?

IMG_2903

i often wish, especially during summer months, that i could dress in that romantic sort of look– flowery chiffon in faded hues, fronds of lavender, tattered lace in a field sort of thing.  doesn’t work on me.  for example, this maxi crochet dress with serious facing issues has been long since hacked to bits. i think you have to be quite graceful to pull the romantic look off. i can play graceful. but i’ll holler my head off for rye the second five o’clock hits, fragile sunset fading against weeping willow trees or no.

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

gold lame suit. boucle ballgown.  peacock feather maxi skirt. the inside of my brain is a drunken dreamscape of a closet with twenty foot high ceilings. at least to me it is, to others i guess it could certainly be a nightmare…

What other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

i really feel that every blog i read has great personal style, otherwise i wouldn’t be interested enough to read them!

looking at my blogroll, what jumps out at me are the sewing bloggers that took their personal style and feel so strongly about it, they’ve turned it into patterns. seeing the journey from blogging about it to holding the paper baby of their style?  AMAZING.  and their offspring truly reflects their style: christine haynes, by hand london, dixie diy, madalynne, and megan nielsen, to name a few.  i bet by the time this post goes up, there will be twenty more to add to that list.  volcanic activity, yo.  i love it.

Finally, what’s on your sewing table right now?

there are always several works in progress at a time on my table, so: a top secret chiffon and velvet top, a taffeta ballgown, a lace and georgette party dress, and new arm slipcovers for the couch.  guess which one i want off my table…

oh, and a glass of cocchin vermouth, neat. naturally.

cheers to you, mama stitch and witter!

Gawd blimey guvnor – cheers to you Madame Oona. I’ve come over all giddy and think I may just be a teeny tiny bit in love with this dame. Clink clink and hiccup..!

My Handmade Style: Rachel from House of Pinheiro

From vintage chic to clean modern shapes, how do these seamstresses create and communicate their own unique style in their projects? What and who inspires them, from film and music to everyday life. And what’s their dream outfit?

Today we have someone I’ve long admired on the blogging scene and found to be absolutely lovely in person. Rachel of House of Pinheiro must be one of the busiest seamstresses on the block. Not only does she make the most amazing dresses and separates, she’s also a knitter, a baker, an occasional model and an international craft swapper! Let’s take a look inside her handmade wardrobe…

Rachel, I love how on trend many of your makes are and how you’ve always got one eye on the world of fashion. How would you sum up your handmade style?

Thanks, Joanne. I try to wear what suits me but I am not afraid to try new things. Ever since I was young, I have always enjoyed playing with fashion and get inspired by design ideas. I would say my style is elegant with a twist. I love tailored and classic pieces with a unique feature or modern design that stands out. I am a lot about comfort too so if I feel uncomfortable I won’t wear it, even if it’s cute.

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?

At the beginning most of my inspiration was my own closet by trying to recreate items I loved or just the pure fun of figuring out how they were made. I love watching fashion week and Style.com but with time my handmade style is being hugely influenced by other bloggers and by what was lacking in my wardrobe. I learned to appreciate different designs and great techniques even if they don’t suit me. I even included vintage inspiration on my modern clothes.

I channel my inspirations in two categories: Silhouette and colour palette. I love the 50′s silhouette, so all my projects try to highlight my waist and my Brazilian background influences drives my choices for rich colours and print.

This doesn’t mean I don’t sew practical garments, like my black skinny pants I sewed last year.

What’s your creative process in deciding what to make? Is it a fabric-based decision or a pattern that inspires you?

It varies daily. I made a small diagram to illustrate my influences. They interact and whatever variable that is stronger at the time gets made…

creativeprocess

There are three fabric types I cannot have enough of : Cotton sateen, linen and wool. All my favourite items are made out of those.

I really enjoy the flat pattern stage of design where I change areas I don’t like in patterns or draft a pattern. I take a while before I cut things in fabric. Sometimes I work hours on some things and they never get cut in fabric because another idea and pattern looked more interesting to make and I embark on another adventure. Sometimes I wonder how I can actually finish things.

Who are your style icons and why?

My mom has always dressed well, inspiring me and she has instilled in me that style is actually about confidence and feeling good about yourself. Sewing is a great buster of accepting your shape and highlighting your potential.

Are there any particular designers or high street stores that you use for inspiration?

My ultimate and hands down favourite is Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch. He was the ONE that made me rediscover fashion – the first time was actually when my 7 yr self used to sew clothes for my barbie and they were suppose to be “crazy”– Now I know what they were, Avant-garde. He was my first designer purchase and I was 16. I treasured so much his creations because I saw something in myself that came out wearing his clothes. Some kind of inner confidence. Something that I thought that no one else would understand in me but he and I knew in my heart those clothes were meant for me. Sewing my own clothes brings me the same amazing feeling.

Another designer that intrigues me is Belgian fashion designer, Martin Margiela. He worked at Jean Paul Gaultier before launching his own label in 1988. I tried my hand at Martin Margiela by making a jumper out of socks. Anyone that saw his latest collection for H&M could buy it for $100 (£65). My serger and a few pairs of socks I had around and voila, I made two sock jumpers. I had been meaning to get a tutorial on this project for ages. It is very simple and offers effective variations depending on the size of the socks used.

If you had to select one self-stitched garment that really encapsulates your style – what would it be and why?

My Sherlock Holmes Cape nicknamed: Sherlock’s horse. The pattern is V8674. Version C. It has a classic shape and I can wear it forever, and the funky lining cheers me up. It uses beautiful quality fabric and I learned the most with this project. It really changed my sewing horizon.

Why do you sew what you sew? Do you choose projects on a whim or do you look at your existing wardrobe and spot vital gaps to fill?

Both, I think it’s a way for me to recreate ideas I have and manage with my current skills. I cannot keep up with them so I try to sew what I can, always trying to push my knowledge forward and hopefully some day I will be able to actually sew what I have exactly in my mind. I love dresses and they are essential for my lifestyle. You don’t have to think what to pair them in the morning, they are comfortable and they look elegant and put together effortlessly.

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

I take a lot of risks by not following instructions and many projects end up not looking as intended. I don’t feel fazed by that as it helps me understand constructions restraints and that mistake may turn into a fun design feature.

My biggest problem is that I overfit garments. I need to learn accept the right ease. For example, my peony. The style doesn’t suit me and by tying to get a closer fit, end up making uncomfortable to wear. In the end I had to open the seams and give myself more room.

There are certain looks some of us just can’t pull off… do you have a style bugbear?

Yes, and makes me so jealous lol. I cannot wear fussy or baggy clothes. Specially those boxy Japanese designs. Makes me look awful. My body needs structured garments. It’s a shame because I would love to be able to rock those clothes.

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

That’s so hard to pinpoint because it changes very often. It’s a work in progress in my mind. I need personality, something that stands out without being in your face/out there.

What other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

There are so many amazing sewing bloggers out there that Its always hard to actually only name a few. My heroes are:
Kazz the spazz: She brings the modern elements of design I like and she explode them. Her outfits are always intense and creative. She has a great fashion sense.
Lladybird Lauren: Can sew a storm with a high productivity that’s hard to beat. What can I say, dude! You are just too cool for school.
Erica B is the trendiest sewing blogger I know. she rocks!

Finally, what’s on your sewing table right now?

A coat. Yes, I will jump in the deep end. Its time to conquer some fears and start the new year with a project I been putting off for ages. (Ed’s note – that’s how behind I am on these interviews guys – sorry!) Catherine of Cyberdaze‘s coat journey really inspired me to go for it and of course the immense support of the sewing community. I’m privileged to have met so many amazing and talented people.

And we’re privileged to learn more about your unique style Rachel. Thanks for taking part! 

My Handmade Style: Katie from Little Red Squirrel

From vintage chic to clean modern shapes, how do these seamstresses create and communicate their own unique style in their projects? What and who inspires them, from film and music to everyday life. And what’s their dream outfit?

This week we’ve got a vintage style maven in the spotlight – Katie from Little Red Squirrel. I just discovered Katie’s blog late last year and wow – this lady is dedicated to creating truly gorgeous vintage looks. Plus she can rock  red lippy to the max. RESPECT. Katie – over to you.

Katie, I’d put you somewhere between a forties vixen and a fifties sweetheart with your fabulous vintage makes. But how would you sum up your handmade style?


Hi Joanne! Aw thanks, that’s really sweet of you! I must admit I am in a long-term love affair with forties and fifties fashion and the looks from both of these eras do influence my personal style very heavily. I make my clothes pretty much solely from vintage patterns and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I suppose I would say my handmade style is a nod towards the class and quality construction of a bygone age. People say “they don’t make clothes like that anymore”, but that’s what I endeavour to do!

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?

I find inspiration for my clothes from all kinds of different sources. I am a big lover of film and television and find that watching certain things really influences what I want to wear! I went through a big Joan (from Mad Men) phase for a while – although I don’t really have the figure for her look! – and more recently I’ve fallen in love with the 1950s London look of Call the Midwife and Sienna Miller’s Tippi Hedren in The Girl. Can you tell that I’m a sucker for a costume drama?! I also find browsing online at sites like Pinterest can be very inspiring, or looking through old fashioned magazines or books from the eras that I love. If I find a look I like I’ll do my best to recreate it in my own way.


What’s your creative process in deciding what to make? Is it a fabric-based decision or a pattern that inspires you?

Mostly I start with the pattern before the fabric. Once I have an idea as to what it is that I want to make I set about finding a vintage pattern that is both suitable and the right size for me (or near enough so I can scale it up or down), then I’ll move on to my fabric choices.

Who are your style icons and why?

I have quite a few style icons; I admire the looks of classic starlets, for example Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, but I think the person who inspires me the most is Dita Von Teese. I adore Dita Von Teese’s style  because she made it beautiful and sexy to be pale and interesting, something that I’m thankful for! I also love that she dresses for every occasion, not because she’s obligated to but because she just loves beautiful clothes. She is glamorous because she chooses to be for her own pleasure, and I think that’s a wonderful thing.


Are there any particular designers or high street stores that you use for inspiration?


The designers that I draw the most inspiration from are Christian Dior at the time of the New Look (I mean who isn’t in love with that suit?) and Adolph Schuman’s label Lilli Ann, which created some of the most beautiful tailoring during the 40s and 50s. I was given my very own Lilli Ann suit as a Christmas present this year and I cannot tell you how beautiful it is, the construction details are just ridiculous! I cannot imagine how much time and effort was put into making such a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Work like that inspires me to become a better seamstress!

Dior

Lilli Ann

If you had to select one self-stitched garment encapsulates your style – what would it be and why?

It would probably be the matching plaid cape and pencil skirt I made this year. It’s definitely the outfit that I’m most proud of at any rate! This outfit shows a lot about me, my love of vintage style, the new skills I have learned in tailoring and even my obsessive compulsive need to match patterns exactly! I love this outfit and all it’s details and it will definitely set the bar for all my future sewing projects. I just hope I can live up to it!

Why do you sew what you sew? Do you choose projects on a whim or do you look at your existing wardrobe and spot vital gaps to fill? 

During the past year I have pretty much just sewn what I wanted to sew because I didn’t have that much time on my hands for sewing projects as I was travelling a lot. I wanted to enjoy my limited sewing time so I allowed myself to just sew for pleasure rather than  convenience! However, this year I do think I will be looking to fill some of the gaps in my wardrobe, and there are a few!

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

I took a lot more risks when I started sewing my own clothes, I look back at some of my first ever projects and I wonder what was I thinking?! For example, during my first few months of sewing I made a crepe dress and a pendrell blouse both of which are great patterns but neither of which suit me at all! They have long since been removed from circulation in my wardrobe. It has taken me a long time to develop my personal style – my current look took some work! – and now that I’ve found it I don’t really stray from it. But that’s not to say that in another five to ten years I won’t go through another drastic change!

There are certain looks some of us just can’t pull off… do you have a style bugbear?

I do not have the legs for leggings/jeggings or any kind of skin tight, lycra-esque leg coverings! And also I can’t see myself sewing up a mini-skirt any time soon! I’ve gotten too used to the length of the skirts of the forties and fifties!

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

That’s a hard choice, there are so many outfits I’d love to call my own… Well, if I have to pick it would probably be Grace Kelly’s iconic dress from “Rear Window”, a stunning dress from an even better film. Or maybe Jessica Rabbit’s sequined number, just for fun!

Grace Kelly

What other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

That’s another hard one, because I read so many blogs! Seriously, I have hundreds on my feed reader, I’m a bit of a blog addict! At the moment I would say that my top bloggers for great individual style would be Pia of stormsmagasin.blogspot.dk for her effortless beauty, Cassie of cassiestephens.blogspot.co.uk for her fabulous individuality, Tasha from blog.bygumbygolly.com for her incredible knitting projects and both Johanna of blog.johannaost.com and Emma of fiercestlilliputian.blogspot.co.uk for channeling such exquisite vintage loveliness.

Finally, what’s on your sewing table right now?

I’m so excited about the sewing I have planned for 2013, I have a lot of fun, new projects up my sleeve! My first project for the New Year is going to be my first ever pair of self-sewn trousers, something I have been wanting to do forever. Hopefully they won’t be too difficult, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see!

(Ed – 2013 update! Katie did make those trews and here they are! Marvellous – yes?)

Thank you so much for inviting me to take part in your “My Handmade Style” series, Joanne! It’s been a real pleasure.

Why thank you Katie for taking part and letting us have a peek at your stunning vintage wardrobe, as well as introducing us to some amazing new blogs.

Handmade Style – questions update

So I’ve been going through all your suggestions for new questions to ask in the Handmade Style series. Blimey you are a nosey lot. I love it. You’re just like me. Given half the chance and an empty house you’d be rifling through drawers, rummaging through cupboards and pillaging the fridge (or is that just me?).

Anyway – loads of brill suggestions, some of which I’ve incorporated into the questions I send out to the lovely ladies who agree to be interrogated. However, as much as it guts me to say this, I can’t include them all. Because a) I want to keep the questions based around style rather than veering into sewing habits and b) I don’t want to overwhelm the willing participant with a zillion questions even though I RLYRLY want to know the answers.

So… I’ve included a new question about what comes first – fabric or pattern – in the creative process, which a lot of you were interested in. I’ve also amended the designer inspiration question to ask about high street stores that inspire handmade style (not all of us follow designers of course) and I’ve added a further question on forthcoming projects which was a genius suggestion. Finally, I added a question that came up a lot: whether our fave bloggers sew on a whim or to fill vital gaps in their wardrobe. I suspect it’s a mixture of both for most but I’d love to hear how people describe their decision-making process, don’t you?

But there were so many brill suggestions – it just shows that there are lots of opportunities for other sewing interview series – why not start one yourself? I’d love to see a series on sewing spaces as suggested by Vicki Kate – how awesome would that be? Heather Lou from Closet Case Files had a fantastic question on how our love of sewing translates into the rest of our lives e.g. baking, cooking, other crafts. I’d read a series based on that wouldn’t you? Sophie O intrigued me with her query on how women in temperate climates style up their outfits in real life. I think that’s a great question to ask around events such as Me Made May or Self Stitched September as we can see real life outfits in action then. Make it Give it had loads of ace questions around people’s journey into sewing and their motivations as well as delving into their guilty sewing secrets – now there’s two more great ideas for a new series right there.

So thank you very much for all your bright ideas and who knows – maybe someone will be inspired to create their own little nosey corner of the internet as a result?

Pregnancy update: We are overdue my friends, by about four days. This baby seems to be very happy inside where it’s warm and dry I think!

My Handmade Style: Paunnet

From vintage chic to clean modern shapes, how do these seamstresses create and communicate their own unique style in their projects? What and who inspires them, from film and music to everyday life. And what’s their dream outfit?

Sigh. Who doesn’t love Anna from Paunnet‘s gorgeous makes, her beautiful blog photography and amazing attention to detail (plus her hilarious rundowns of Burda patterns every once in a while)? I caught up with her to find out more about her unique handmade style…

Anna from Paunnet

Anna, your makes are always absolutely stunning with the most gorgeous and judicious use of fabrics and pattern combinations. But how would you describe your particular handmade style? 

Thank you so much, Joanne! I find it very hard to define my own style, but the first word that comes to my mind is definitely girly. Until about three years ago, I lived in jeans and rarely wore skirts. One day, I decided to transition into a more feminine look and I challenged myself not to wear jeans or trousers for a week. I never turned back! Now I’m filling my wardrobe with skirts and dresses, I have much more fun with my outfits, I wear colours a lot more and I like to add a retro touch to my look whenever I can.

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?

My inspiration can come from anywhere: sometimes a particular fabric “speaks” to me, a specific pattern starts the spark, other times I decide I just have to replicate something I’ve seen in a designer’s collection. I rarely lack inspiration to sew something new for me and I’m constantly sketching and taking notes before I forget, since I get distracted quite easily. The downside of this is that I don’t have the time to make everything I’d like, and it can get frustrating at times, because you have to pick your projects very carefully.

Who are your style icons and why?

I don’t think I have a proper style icon, I really like to look around and pick what I like here and there, sometimes from people who have very different styles. I use Pinterest a lot to collect outfits I like and people you can see in my boards are celebrities like Dita von Tease and Emma Stone, but most of my inspiration comes from my favourite style bloggers, such as calivintage, The Clothes Horse, Yesterday’s Sweetheart, Iris loves Fashion.

Are there any particular designers that you use for inspiration?

The inspiration folder on my computer is filled with images from the collections of Orla Kiely, Dear Creatures, Lazzari, Sessùn, tba. They all channel the girly vibe with a retro twist that I love so much.

Dear Creatures

Dear Creatures

If you had to select one self-stitched garment that really encapsulates your style – what would it be and why?

I’d say it’s my Apple Print Banksia dress: first of all, it’s a dress, the type of garment I sew and wear most. It features a peter pan collar, a cutesy print, it has pockets and it makes me happy just to look at it. A close, second place goes to my more recent Belladone dress. I love them equally :D

Paunnet's Apple Print Banksia Dress

Paunnet’s Apple Print Banksia Dress

Belladone dress

Belladone dress

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

I like to experiment with my hair and makeup, I’m not afraid to try new things and change it up often. I recently started to cut my own hair, which is quite scary at the beginning, but so empowering!

As far as clothes are concerned, I’m quite settled in my style, I’ve started to understand what works for me and what doesn’t, but I still like to try new things once in a while. This summer, I tried the high/low hem trend that was incredibly popular: in one case, it backfired. The second time around, instead, it went wonderfully!

Black and blue Roxanne dress

Black and blue Roxanne dress

There are certain looks some of us just can’t pull off… do you have a style bugbear?

Being quite short and curvy, I’ve always envied tall, slender girls who can wear oversized tops and skinny trousers and look amazing and effortless. I slowly and painfully learnt that this type of silhouette doesn’t work on me… anything that doesn’t give me definition at the waist and that doesn’t detract attention from my hips and derrière, I’d better avoid.

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

I have a huge girl crush on an Italian style blogger, Ale of Rosaspina Vintage. I’d gladly steal anything from her closet, but if I ever get married, her wedding dress is the closest thing to perfection that I’ve ever imagined.

What other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

When I’m asked to recommend other sewing blogs, three names always come to my mind: Nette, Mokosha and Mathilde. They are very different from each other, but I love each one of their individual styles. I also adore Roisin and Magali, every post of theirs is a treat for the eyes!

Thanks Anna! I love that you just decided one day to change your style, and did it so effortlessly! Oh and what a treasure trove of online stores and blogs to look through. That’s the afternoon gone then…

My Handmade Style: Catherine Daze

From vintage chic to clean modern shapes, how do these seamstresses create and communicate their own unique style in their projects? What and who inspires them, from film and music to everyday life. And what’s their dream outfit?

Thanks to everyone who came forth with amazing suggestions for new questions to ask willing seamsters in this series! Loads of great suggestions and ones I will definitely take on board for new interviews. But in the meantime let me introduce you to Catherine of Cyberdaze. Catherine’s blog is fairly new to me in that I only discovered it a few months back – but what a treat! Here’s more on her darkly playful, avant garde style…

Catherine Daze

Catherine, you’ve been described by Dolly Clackett as the Tilda Swinton of sewing blogs! But how would you describe your particular handmade style?

That’s a lovely description – thanks Roisin! I really admire Tilda Swinton’s style, she’s very individual and daring.

What I am aiming for is an urban, dark, slightly futuristic look that isn’t too costumey to wear every day. My blog name – Cyberdaze – is obviously a spin on cyberpunk. But I also have a great affection for the 70s.

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?

I like a lot of science-fiction costume design. June Hudson‘s late 70s/early 80s designs for Blake’s Seven and Doctor Who still resonate with me. I keep a scrapbook of images I like from magazines – mostly Vogue, there’s no way I’d tear up my Burdas! – and I find there are definite themes in the collection which I try to bring out in my sewing. For example I have lots of pictures of silver or metallic trousers, so that was a direct inspiration for my silver jeans.

Catherine's silver jeans

Who are your style icons and why?

Tilda Swinton, of course. Vivienne Westwood is an inspiration as she not only makes amazingly distinctive clothes, she wears them day in day out. Daphne Guinness, especially her accessories. I’m not a jewellery wearer myself but I love her taste.

Daphne Guinness and Tilda Swinton

Are there any particular designers that you use for inspiration?

I have to say Vivienne Westwood again! I like Rick Owens‘s urban, grungy glamour. I wish I could imitate Louise Goldin‘s scifi knits. Marios Schwab and Alexander McQueen are also favourites.

If you had to select one self-stitched garment that really encapsulates your style – what would it be and why?

This is tricky because my favourite garment is usually the one I sewed most recently. But I think my black neoprene and knit version of Vogue 8319 incorporates most of the elements I’m drawn to. I love technical fabrics, contrasting textures, and black. I made the dress quite a while ago and it’s still getting regular wear which is always a good sign.

Black neoprene Vogue 8319

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

I am often tempted by very ladylike, elegant things which don’t actually work for me. Case in point: I made a red wool version of Vogue 8667 which I was really happy with as a project but never wear. I’m still proud of the invisible zip and finishing on that one though.

Vogue 8667

But I’ve tried some experiments that worked. I made my first maxidress as a bit of a joke. I originally bought the pattern for the glorious envelope illustration: it is from 1972 and the girls in the picture had big Charlie’s Angels hair and chunky platforms, wonderfully glamorous. I made it up for a vintage pattern contest on Pattern Review, not expecting I’d wear it much. I was wrong. It came out most weekends that summer and I’ve made the same pattern up again since then.

Maxi dress

There are certain looks some of us just can’t pull off… do you have a style bugbear?

I can’t wear anything too girlie or cute. Frills are right out! That sort of thing looks ridiculous on my frame. I no longer find that as frustrating as I used to; sewing gives me so many other choices. Another look I can’t do at all is the midi skirt. Above the knee or floor-length for me every time.

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

If we’re talking real fantasy stuff I’d love to wear Balenciaga’s gold C3PO leggings.Over the top, shiny, and geeky. I think I’d need a new lifestyle to go with them though.

What other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

This is really difficult; there are so many to choose from. Kazz, Ooobop!, Alice and The Perfect Nose are particularly inspirational for me in very different ways. Kazz’s blog is a visual feast. Ooobop! has a glamorous, vintagey vibe. Alice is effortlessly cool. The Perfect Nose makes the most amazing use of colour.

Ok so now I really want those leggings too… and I’ve never even seen a Star Wars film the whole way through… thanks Catherine!

My Handmade Style: Handmade Jane

From vintage chic to clean modern shapes, how do these seamstresses create and communicate their own unique style in their projects? What and who inspires them, from film and music to everyday life. And what’s their dream outfit?

Yet another blogging favourite joins us today to talk us though her handmade wardrobe – it’s Handmade Jane. I’ve been very excited about featuring Jane, not least because I love her style (and I bet you do too) but because she’s also possibly one of the nicest bloggers you could meet in the flesh. But enough of the fawning – let’s see if Jane will let us into her drawers!

Jane's Alma blouse

Jane, anyone who follows your blog knows you’re mad for vintage patterns, polka dots, gingham and shirt dresses! But if you had to describe your style, how would you sum it up?

Well, I think you’ve covered all life’s essentials in one fell swoop there! If I was blowing my own trumpet (which I am), I’d say ‘elegant chic with a vintage twist’! I’m a stay at home mum, which dictates the sort of clothes I wear to a certain degree – although I love them, wiggle dresses just look plain wrong down at the park! Having said that, I do like to look like I’ve made an effort – I’m a naturally neat person and am not comfortable being scruffy. So knee length skirts and dresses with cardigans seem to be my wardrobe staples during the day.

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?

Other sewing bloggers mostly, closely followed by old films and books, and of course, Pinterest, which I have to ration myself with, otherwise I’d be on there clicking away all day. I’ve just started collecting classic Agatha Christie books of the 1950s and 1960s, partly because I love a good crime novel, but also because the unfortunate murder victims on the front covers always seem to be rocking a gorgeous frock!

Agatha Christie heroine

Any kind of wartime drama is right up my street, especially if it features girls swanning around in tea dresses and cardigans. I really like Sarah Waters’ novels because she has a wonderfully evocative writing style and is a stickler for period detail, whether it’s clothes, decor or manner of speech. I’m thinking specifically of The Night Watch which is set during WW2.

The Night Watch

The Night Watch (BBC)

But with all sources of inspiration, it’s the vintage details that really get me going: a ruched bustline, a lace trimmed collar, a piped edge, an unusual colour combination, vintage buttons…. I’m always looking for ways of incorporating these details into my own sewing. I’m not really trying to create an entire vintage look, just a flavour. So I might make a shirt dress from a modern pattern, but shorten it and perhaps add vintage buttons for more of a 1940s look.

Who are your style icons and why?

I’ve got a soft spot for blonde bombshells from the 1950s! It’s a look that really appeals to me: the curvy figure, the sexy cut of the clothes, the blonde hair, the red lippie. Marilyn Monroe is probably my number one style icon.

Marilyn MonroeSome of her film costumes are eye poppingly wonderful, and it was two of them (a halter neck dress from Niagara and a cherry print dress from The Misfits) that inspired me to make my own Cherry Fabulous dress (seen above) this summer.

Jane's Cherry Fabulous dress

Her off-duty style is fabulous too: halter neck tops, polka dot sundresses, fitted sweaters and tight trousers – she always looked pulled together and perfectly accessorised.

Are there any particular designers that you use for inspiration?

I’m not really interested in current fashion trends. I feel quite strongly that what I
wear should be about what suits me, my personality and my figure, rather than
what’s currently doing the rounds on the catwalks. Tara Starlet and Vivien of
Holloway clothes are great for vintage style inspiration. I think Orla Kiely‘s eye for
design and colour is excellent and I always like the clothes she designs, even
though they are ridiculously expensive. I’ve recently discovered Kate Spade, and
was delighted to find she has a similar obsession with polka dots as me!

If you had to select one self-stitched garment that really encapsulates your style – what would it be and why?

That’s a difficult one! I think the easy option would be to choose a polka dot blouse or a gingham dress, as both these types of garments encapsulate my style in a nutshell. But if I was putting a little more thought into it, I’d have to say my Oolong dress. I made it for my brother’s wedding last summer and virtually everybody I spoke to said the dress was very ‘me’! It’s a flattering, feminine fit with 1940s style details (ruched bust, slightly gathered sleeves, knee length) in an oh-so-pretty blue floral fabric. I like the fact that it’s vintage in look but retains a modern edge. It’s also one of those dresses that makes me feel fabulous whenever I wear it, which can only be a good thing, right?!

Jane's Oolong

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

I’d like to be a bit more of a risk taker but I just can’t drag myself away from my favourites most of the time! I’m constantly drawn to red, red/navy combos, 1940s florals, polka dots and gingham. A few years ago, a friend of mine suggested that maybe ‘enough was enough’ with the gingham and polka dots. It was like a red rag to a bull. If I like them, they suit me and make me happy, I’ll wear gingham and polka dots every day if I want to!

Having said that, I do have a hankering to wear yellow and this is one thing I’d like to be braver about. I have a Pinterest board full of yellow inspiration which I’m constantly sighing over. My reticence is because I know red and blue suit me, so I can wear them with confidence. With my colouring, I’m not so sure about yellow, and if I don’t think something’s quite right on me, then I won’t be confident wearing it. I’m taking baby steps though, and have taken advice from Caitlin Moran in her book ‘How to be a Woman’. She says, “every woman needs a pair of yellow shoes (they unexpectedly go with everything)”. Too right.

Jane's yellow Pinterest board

There are certain looks some of us just can’t pull off… do you have a style bugbear?

Anything that ‘s too flowing or unstructured – I just look pregnant! I definitely need some shape definition. And like Zoe, circle skirts just don’t do it for me. I love them on other people and really wish they suited me. But they don’t.

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

Amazingly, after so many years, I still really really love my wedding outfit. A dressmaker from Brighton made my dress, based solely on some pictures I’d drawn and amazingly, she got it spot on! It’s a sleeveless, fitted, floor length gown in red crepe de chine, with princess seams. Very simple and timeless and she managed to get the fit just right. I wore a matching shoulder wrap and red heels, and truly felt like a movie star (as all brides should on their wedding day!) I didn’t stop dancing and smiling all day!

What other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

I have to mention Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons, as hers was the first sewing blog I started following. Seeing the evolution of her handmade style really inspired me to start up my own blog. I also got very excited when I first discovered Lauren’s blog Lladybird – a lot of her style preferences overlap with mine, so I’m always keen to see what she sews next! Her beautiful polka dot Ceylon dress is probably one of my favourite ever dresses. I also really admire Casey‘s unique, vintage style – she just does her own thing and always looks wonderful! This is just the tip of the iceberg though, sewing bloggers inspire me on a daily basis.

Thank you so much Joanne for inviting me to be part of this excellent series. I can’t WAIT to see who else you have up your sleeve! x

Thanks for introducing me to Kate Spade (and wasting a whole afternoon) Jane! I’ve already got my eye on the Oolong pattern after seeing your version… divine.  And who else wants to see Jane’s wedding dress NOW?

My Handmade Style: So, Zo…

From vintage chic to clean modern shapes, how do these seamstresses create and communicate their own unique style in their projects? What and who inspires them, from film and music to everyday life. And what’s their dream outfit?

Today we have one of the shining lights of the sewing blogging world – Zoe Edwards of So, Zo… Zoe is the brains behind the annual Me-Made-May and Self-Stitched-September challenges and has just recently taken the leap into self-employment, teaching sewing classes in Brighton. She’s also an expert on upcycling, refashioned and sustainable style having worked at TRAIDremade until the studio closed earlier this year. But enough wittering – let’s take a gander at that divine wardrobe…

Zoe from So, Zo...

You’re known for your vintage pin up style and gorgeous nautically-inspired creations Zoe. But if you had to, how would you sum up your look?

Hmm, I’d say my look is mid-twentieth century inspired retro with more than a dash of nautical and a dollop of Rockabilly! My look is usually a pretty casual one though. I’ve made some nice ‘going out’ dresses, but I don’t have to dress smartly for work and I value comfort pretty highly!

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?

When I want a hit of inspiration, there are certainly online destinations where I know I’ll find some. Trawling Modcloth, Tara Starlet, Dear Creatures, Orla Kiely and increasingly Pinterest, plus all the awesome sewing blogs I like to follow, will always dig up something that gets my, ahem, juices flowing! I rarely act on the accrued inspiration immediately, but having a bank of images and subsequent ideas makes me feel nourished in some way.

As for how this visual inspiration is channelled into my handmade clothing, I think some ideas resonate and stick with me stronger than others. They force themselves to the top of the ‘to be sewn’ list, and it kind of feels inevitable that they should be made. What I sew is a very instinctive thing; I never make any ‘summer sewing plan’ or anything like that. Occasionally I’ll write lists to help clarify the ideas I’m favouring at the time, but they become obsolete within a week when new ideas bubble up!

Who are your style icons and why?

I don’t think my style icons are people, rather certain eras, looks and themes. Rockabilly, Hawaiiana/Tiki, the Beat poets, 1950s Las Vegas, 1960s Paris, diner waitresses, pulp fiction covers… I’m not sure if all those influences are directly evident in the way I dress, but they certainly motivate and fuel me creatively.

Are there any particular designers that you use for inspiration?

No. Generally I find street style infinitely more inspirational than the work of named designers, (Orla Kiely and the designers of the clothing sites I mentioned before aside of course!). Not to say that there aren’t lots of designers out there, past and present, creating amazing things that would or indirectly do inspire me, I just never specifically seek them out. Inspiration is too easily found on sewing blogs and my favourite sites.

I love to see what real women are wearing in their everyday lives, especially if their clothes are handmade. The Me-Made/Self-Stitched months are a joy for this (the next challenge month will be Me-Made-May ’13). Plus the all-year-round Me-Made-Living flickr group is growing into a wonderful community for sharing your handmade outfits.

If you had to select one self-stitched garment that really encapsulates your style – what would it be and why?

Hmm, I guess it would be my Rockabilly wiggle dress. It’s based on a vintage wiggle dress pattern that I adapted to include a contrast leopard print top section and bustier line seam. Its vintage credentials combined with a kitschy fabric choice is pretty representative of my style. The black sateen has a decent elastane content too so it is super-comfortable to wear: another feature that I feel is important because if it isn’t comfortable, it will usually get left in the wardrobe.

The Rockabilly Wiggle Dress

The Rockabilly Wiggle Dress

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

When I started to take sewing clothes seriously about five years ago, my approach was a predictably scattergun approach: I made stuff with whatever patterns and fabrics I could get my hands on with very little regard for if I would actually wear the final garment or if it fit with my sense of style and life.

I think the process of learning to sew is awesome for developing a good understanding of your body and stylistic preferences because you are forced to make every single decision from start to finish to make that garment exist. Walking into a shop and buying something is so much easier with so much less emotional investment (which is why cheap, shop-bought clothes have taken on a certain ‘disposability’ in our society). After lots of projects that rarely saw the light of day, if at all, I began to think much more about what I was making and how to stop wasting so much of my time and fabric. These days I feel I know my style body and lifestyle pretty well so I can make reasonably well informed decisions about what I make. I think this more considered approach has made me a lot less experimental or adventurous these days, but I’m happy with that.

What didn’t work from my more adventurous days? Blindly making heaps of free patterns from Burdastyle (about five years ago when most of their selection was free). For example, I made a couple of circle skirts that looked horrendous on me and went with NOTHING in my wardrobe at that time. WHY did I do that??!!! I’ll never get that uncut fabric or those hours back…

What did work from that time? My first attempt at using a vintage sewing pattern (before I had a blog) produced this boxy 1960′s little jacket. It’s lined with casino print quilting cotton, all playing cards and poker chips, and has little iron-on swallows on the shoulders. I bought the swallows and the quilting cotton in San Francisco (two separate trips) so it reminds me of special times. Plus the black sateen is very soft so it feels more like a cardigan than a jacket to wear. It’s looking a little past its best these days but I still love to wear it, I’m wearing it now in fact.

1960s jacket

1960s jacket

There are certain looks some of us just can’t pull off… do you have a style bugbear?

Kind of. A few years ago I was pretty obsessed with the Built By Wendy and Dear Creatures ranges. A lot of their styles and other tunic-y tops and skinny jeans looks that were about at the time were better suited to a less curvy figure than mine. I also agree with Roisin when she complained that layering escapes her. My theory is that layering isn’t as easy for hour-glass shaped girls than for more slender shapes. But I’m trying hard to find ways to implement successfully layering because I love vibrant colour combinations and feeling warm!

Also, I love the real pin-up styles of tiny blouses and tight Capri pants and sexy wiggle dresses, but I just value comfort too much to rock those looks for longer than an evening.

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

For a couple of years now I’ve been dreaming of making a phenomenal diner waitress style dress. I chronicled this obsession here and I’ve started to collate my image inspiration on a Pinterest board. I’ve made a couple of garments with elements inspired by diner waitress’ outfits, but I’m gearing up to make the very final word in diner waitress dresses!

Diner Waitress dress inspiration bard

Diner Waitress dress inspiration bard

What other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

Answering this question could easily be a post in itself, my goodness, there are just so many! I love it when a sewing blogger has a really specific flavour to their creations, it doesn’t have to reflect my own tastes at all although of course it’s awesome when it does for inspiration purposes! I love Jen from Grainline‘s relaxed contemporary style, Helene from frk.bustad‘s all-out mid-20th Century kitsch chic, Tilly from Tilly and the Button‘s super sweet Paris preppiness (is that a word?!), Cecile from Sewing and So On‘s perfectly pitched warm-weather wear, Solvi from Delfinelise‘s eclectic and fun layered awesomeness, Winnie from Scruffy Badger Time‘s infinitely wearable and mix-and-matchable separates… I could seriously go on and on and on. Everyone in the online blogging community has something to offer each other so it feels weird to pick just a handful.

Thanks so much Joanne for asking me to answer these questions, it’s been a fun experience and I think I now know myself and my style a bit better for doing so!

Thanks Zoe for sharing your inspiration, and making us all lust after a diner-waitress frock we didn’t know we wanted!

My Handmade Style: Sallie Oh

From vintage chic to clean modern shapes, how do these seamstresses create and communicate their own unique style in their projects? What and who inspires them, from film and music to everyday life. And what’s their dream outfit?

I’m really excited about my guest this week (actually – when am I NOT excited about the guest?) but seriously, I have a huuuuuuge blogging crush on this woman. Houston-based Sallie of SallieOh drops in to talk about style, and readers, this woman has it in bucketfuls. Read on to find out how she comes up with her gorgeous looks again and again… 

Sallie Oh

I know it’s difficult but in this series I’m asking bloggers to describe their style, if they can. How would you define your look?

Well what’s so difficult about this question is that there’s actually two of me. There’s the Sallie that lives in my head, and the Reality. The Sallie that lives in my head has amazing style. She wears lots of classic pieces with a really modern cut or fabric, but incorporates a lot of avant-garde pieces in there that give everything a bit of artistic drama. And she has really really amazing shoes.

But the reality is more of a mish-mash of holdovers from the poor college days, some respectable but boring remnants of an ill-fated corporate job (in which I often got the “dress code” talk from my boss) and then my sewn wardrobe, which aspires (at best) to the Sallie-in-my-head!

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?

I have a lot of sources for style inspiration. It’s hard to pinpoint just a few because I feel that what I generally do is saturate myself with images and then somehow mentally sort through them to figure out what will work for me. Then I usually delude myself into thinking it was my idea all along and that I am, of course, a genius! But really I look at a wide variety of blogs – probably evenly split between style blogs and sewing blogs (a perennial favorite is Closet Visit – I love the voyeuristic quality of snooping through someone’s closet, and all the women featured have such an individual look) and I also do a lot of virtual window-shopping. Occasionally I meander through images of the runway shows, or hit up sites like Pinterest. And since I like to find things that I can make I spend a lot of time looking at sewing patterns and trying to imagine how they might work for me. I think we can all agree that working with sewing patterns sometimes requires quite a bit of imagination to get your head around the often-unfortunate “envelope” images!

As far as channeling that into my me-made wardrobe – I’m really an advocate for grounding everything in practicality. As awesome as the Sallie in my head is – I need to keep in mind the real necessities of my day-to-day life. And so when I start to think about what item I want to sew next to add to my wardrobe I really think long and hard about what I reach for again and again – especially on those days where I resent the need to even put on clothes (let’s be real here, that’s, like, every day!)

Are there any particular designers that you use for inspiration?

I’ve been known to go to this one particular store when I head into “the city” (Houston) that carries a lot of young, mid-range designers: Rachel Comey, A Détacher, Electric Feathers, Suno, Isabel Marant… And I like to try on the clothes and examine them and basically be that annoying shopper who spends hours in a store and then walks out empty handed. It’s like playing dress-ups. But I get a lot of inspiration from there. In general I like to look at small designers who are making artful clothing that is wearable, yet pushes the limit somehow.

If you had to select one self-stitched garment that really encapsulates your style – what would it be and why?

Well now that’s like asking me to choose a favorite child!! Hmmm… let’s see here…. I can only pick one? I’m actually going to say my ikat McCall’s 6553. The silhouette is the kind of thing I dream about and the pattern feels funky but also sort of laid-back which works with life. It dresses up well and it’s also a great no-brainer for when I need to look like I tried but actually I just rolled out of bed (like today, for instance!). It’s proven to be a very hard-working dress. And I like that.. It also doesn’t hurt that I get tons of compliments on it!

Ikat dress

I’d also give a second and third place to my jeans and my Rachel Comey for Vogue white top.

Sallie's jeans and Rachel Comey for Vogue top

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

I really feel very passionately about wearing what makes you comfortable – and I don’t mean comfortable like you’re in jammies – but comfortable in your own skin. Clothes should just highlight the fact that you’re already gorgeous – and if you feel self-conscious you won’t be giving off your best vibes (for lack of better phrasing…) so perhaps that means I’m not particularly risky? I think maybe I sometimes put together outfits or make a certain garment that I know others may not like, but that I think will make me feel good – so in that way perhaps I’m a risky dresser. I risk getting weird looks from other people! But it usually pays off in the end. My ikat dress was like that – I worried that maybe the print and the voluminous silhouette would be too big of a statement for the people in my daily life, but it turned out to be the most highly complimented me-made item in my closet to date!
That being said, it definitely took me some trial and error and a bit of brutal honesty to know what makes me comfortable and what’s outside of that comfort zone, which leads me to…

Is there anything you wish you could wear but can’t? 

Why yes… yes there is! I often find that anything too sweet or girly just doesn’t look quite right on me. As much as I love demure little peter pan collars and bows and puffed sleeves and dainty little prints on others – it just looks all wrong on me. Like I’m a 40 year old, hard-living, street-walking woman playing the Lolita. Just kidding. Not really.

I think it took me a little while to figure out that a vintage or rockabilly look was not my friend – which was a bit of a letdown because I generally love the look on others. But once I figured it out it was like a huge liberation! I don’t have to dress that way! I can dress alllll these other ways!

I think this is also where knowing your own body comes into play too. There are certain silhouettes that just aren’t particularly becoming on me. I’m so over trying to beat myself into somebody else’s shape so I can wear a certain type of clothing (if that makes sense) I’d rather just skip the drama and focus on what I know is flattering. And usually it involves something that doesn’t make me feel bad about my 3pm chocolate fix or my love of bread.

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

This is probably very unexciting – but my dream outfit would probably be some sort of loose draped or flow-y dress in a breathable fabric (hello silk!) and a solid color that hits at about my knees. A pair of really great architectural heels that look like a work of art and a large necklace and/or bracelets with some color. Hair up (the hair’s always up). Lipstick optional.

If I had 10 versions of that outfit I could be set for the rest of my days!

What other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

Oh gosh! There’s just so many! I’m not sure anyone does the vintage look better than Gertie (Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing) or Casey (Elegant Musings). They’ve really owned that one. I really love the clean modern and slightly playful aesthetic of Jen from Grainline. You can always tell an Oona make from a mile away – that girl knows how to work with fabric, color and texture! I think Mokosha’s got a great eclectic look – and really knows how to mix colors and patterns. Others that are really up there for me (told you there were a lot!) Heather Lou (Closet Case Files), Carolyn (Handmade by Carolyn) Novita (Very Purple Person) and a new one I just came across (courtesy of Heather) Otga Hasbold (Otga Hasbold), and of course Peter! (Male Pattern Boldness)

…Okay seriously I’m just going to start naming every sewing blogger ever! I get very excited by the continuing diversity I’m seeing develop within the sewing community. It’s such a wonderful way to develop your own individual style!

Joanne, thank you so much for asking me to be a part of such a great series of posts. You are a great inspiration to me and to so many others! I hope one day our paths may cross in real life. At which point you better be guarding that parrot print Salme dress with your life because I still have designs to steal it! Maniacal laughter…

Just kidding. Not really.

Yikes! While I try to extract a hysterical Sallie from my wardrobe, I really hope you’ve enjoyed her thoughtful answers. If you didn’t know this amazing seamstress before then I am delighted to be your introduction. Simply stunning. Thanks Sallie!

My Handmade Style – Dolly Clackett

Welcome everyone to the second in an exciting new series, looking at how some of our favourite sewing bloggers curate their handmade wardrobes. Where do they find their inspiration and how do they channel it into their makes?

I’m over the moon to introduce you to someone you probably already follow. We know and love her as Dolly Clackett, also known as Roisin Muldoon. We’ve swooned over her romantic vintage style dresses, we’ve gaped at her seemingly endless shoe collection, we’ve secretly wondered if she owns ANY trousers… and we’re about to find out! Over to you Roisin…

Dolly Clackett aka Roisin Muldoon

You have the most enviable collection of dresses Roisin, many of them vintage or vintage inspired. How would you sum up your style (oh, and do you actually own any trousers)?

I do have a *lot* of dresses, it’s true! And no, I don’t own any trousers. Well, I have pyjama trousers, and one pair of trousers that don’t fit me but which I have held onto for sentimental reasons. I think my style could probably be summed up as ‘romantic’, maybe? I sort of hate that word but most of my dresses are quite traditional in terms of shape and style – full-skirted knee-length dresses or pencil dresses make up most of my wardrobe, there isn’t anything very edgy in there.

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?

I read so many blogs, both style blogs and sewing blogs. These are great because I’m not interested in fashion, strange as that might sound. I don’t care about what’s on trend, but I will take inspiration from people I think look stylish. I’m also lucky to have some incredibly stylish and well-dressed friends! I think my tastes have been well catered for in recent years, I know everyone loves the Mad Men look so I’m not saying anything groundbreaking here, but that show’s popularity has meant more inspiration and more beautiful clothes for dress-loving ladies like myself!

Who are your style icons and why?

This is actually a hard one to answer! I sort of hate to say this because the character annoys me no end, but there isn’t one thing that Charlotte wore in Sex and The City that I wouldn’t happily have stolen off her back. I think Diane Kruger always looks amazing – she has an edgy vibe that I can’t quite pull off, but I love how she looks. Yeah it helps that she has Joshua Jackson on her arm, yum. And yes obviously the Mad Men ladies, particularly Trudy Campbell.

Charlotte from Sex and the City

Are there any particular designers that you use for inspiration?

Yes! I love Vivienne Westwood. I don’t think I could wear her more architectural looks, but her use of prints and colours is amazing. On a more affordable level, I love Bernie Dexter’s clothing line and it was her Eiffel Tower dresses that made me decide to make my Foux du FaFa Chantilly dress.

Foux Du Fa Fa Frock

If you had to select one self-stitched garment that really encapsulates your style – what would it be and why?

My Sail Away Ceylon dress, I think. It’s probably the dress I’m most proud of. It has everything I want in a frock. It has a retro vibe, and anchors, and polka dots, and then more polka dots. I like things that are just a wee bit too much, and I think that’s it!

Sail Away Ceylon dress

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

No, I’m a bit crap in this department – I know what I like and what suits me and I stick with that. I did cut my hair up short a few years ago and I liked it, but I do like it better in a bob. I’m not naturally a redhead, but I don’t think that dyeing your hair red is really that much of a style risk.

Is there anything you wish you could wear but can’t? 

Goodness, yes. I would LOVE to look good in layers. Like, artful layering. It just escapes, and it makes me look untidy. I’d also love to look good in menswear inspired tailoring but I’m not Katharine Hepburn or Lauren Bacall! That’s fine, though.

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

I know I said earlier how much I love Charlotte’s outfits in Sex and the City but my favourite ever outfit from that show is one Carrie wears in the final episode in Paris. It’s a red dress with black polka dots, worn over a green petticoat with an amazing morning coat. She’s wearing white Christian Louboutin pumps with cutout detailing on them. I have paused the DVD so many times just to sigh over that outfit!

SEX AND THE CITY Finale: Sarah Jessica Parker. photo: Craig Blankenhorn

Finally, what other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

Oh my word, too many! I love everything Paunnet has sewn. Same with Julia Bobbin. Catherine Daze has a style that’s radically different to mine, she’s like the Tilda Swinton of sewing blogs, and I love seeing her makes. She always looks fabulous in them. I also love Debbie of Stitches and Seams. Again, her style is different to mine, but I love seeing what she makes and how she wears it. I think Ruth of Roobeedoo is amazing, as well. I love her style – particularly her awesome trousers!

Thank you so much Roisin for sharing your inspiration! Your combination of vintage prints and retro style patterns is a winner every time.