Magpie Collection reveal

Do you remember the outfits I made for the Magpie hair collection last year? Well, I can finally share the photos!

I'm really pleased with how they have come out. While you can't see the whole outfit in any of the photos, the key details are captured. I won't go into the details of the construction as you find that in the posts from last year (first and second). 

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The simplicity of this outfit has been captured beautifully. It is completely black in order to keep the emphasis on the model's blonde hair. When I first heard that we had a blonde model I was unsure how it would work but work it did with the differing tones in the hair and the curves of the make up. 

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This was my favourite outfit to make and I'm thrilled at how well the blue has come out in this photo. You can see a lot of the detail in the lace too. While you can't see the full circle skirt you can still sense that this is a Victorian Gothic inspired dress. 

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I'm really happy that this top looks straight in the photo. I spent so long trying to get the lines even between shots that I was convinced they would look off in the photos! I think this is the hair-outfit combination that works best. I love how the sharp lines of the hair match the lines of the top and the way the green and blue hues compete for attention with the white stripe reminds me of the folded wings of a Magpie. 

Making the outfits and attending the shoot was great fun. I learnt a lot on the set - there is so much more to think about than I originally thought. Although it took a while to put the outfits together, I could potentially be persuaded to do it again! How about you - would you create, or have you created, an outfit for a photo shoot? 


Hair: Andreea Dumitru hair design

Make up: Lilian Komor Makeup

Photography: Nicola Belson

Magpie outfits part 2

This is the final post about the magpie photo shoot I did recently. 

Outfit two

This outfit was inspired by a sitting magpie. If you look at their folded wings they make a rather neat chevron and I wanted to capture that in this outfit.  The front of the bodice is made from three pieces. The top black section, made from the same poly satin as the other outfits, has shoulder darts. The top seam of the white chevron, also poly satin, is topstitched in place. The green layer, made from a scarf I found in a local charity shop, is also topstitched in place. The back is black with two darts. The bodice closes at the side with a zip. 

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The model would have short hair and I needed a high neckline. The original plan was to add a green trim around the neck but I couldn't find anything that matched well enough and I also worried about how the bodice would go over the models head! I raised the neckline substantially and put a zip into one of the shoulder seams. The sleeves are cute capped ones. 

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I wanted a skirt to match the bodice. I found a good quality pair of size 18 trousers in the charity shop and refashioned it into a skirt. I unpicked the inside seams and stitched them at the back after taking in about 3 inches. I decided to make a curved hem at the front to break up the solid colours and also to illustrate the magpie's tail. After a lot of pressing the curve did eventually lie flat. 

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This outfit was finished with a couple of necklaces and a pair of black heels. 

Outfit three

In many ways this outfit was the simplest. The model for this outfit was blonde and it was important that the colours amplified the hair style rather than took away from it. She also had short hair which meant I need to create a higher neckline. 

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The top is essentially a shirt pattern without the button holes. This wasn't the original idea which was a top with a turtle neck but that quickly became unachievable as I was using a woven fabric rather than a knit. I decided I needed a stand up collar instead and settled on a variation of the Mandarin collar. This changed the design of the top from a fitted bodice to a slightly looser shirt with a wide placket at the front. The collar, interfaced with a thick cotton to add stability, joins midway through the placket and overlaps slightly. The shirt closes with poppers. I'll admit that I completely improvised this pattern but somehow it worked out. 

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The sleeves are from the same pattern as the blue dress and again represent the wings of a magpie. They are more successful in this top as they are set into a full armscye.  The flash of purple comes a tassel made from medium thickness cord with white electrical tape wrapped around the ends. It was held into place with a large brooch. 

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I'm really pleased with how they all turned out. Would I do it again? Quite possibly. It was a lot of work but it was a chance to nudge my pattern drafting skills along. This is something I definitely need to find more time for. 

Magpie outfits part 1

I won't be giving away too many details of the overall collection but I promised details of the outfits I made for the shoot last week. The theme for the collection was Magpies, which I was quite excited about as it offers many options for shapes, colours and textures. The era of inspiration was Victorian Gothic which gave additional possibilities. 

I quickly sketched out six designs before meeting Andreea for a drink to decide on the styles and colours for each outfit. This was a very useful meeting as Andreea already had the hair styles in mind and knew which colour would suit which model. Each model would be predominantly in black with highlights of one particular colour - blue, purple or green. By the end of the evening I had three styles that were a mix of the six I started off with. 

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I knew from the start that I wanted to draft the patterns myself and used my block throughout. This would give me the push I needed to put into practice what I had learnt in the spring on my pattern drafting course and to learn more techniques. The other, probably more important, reason was to avoid any potential IP or copyright issues as the photos will be professional ones. 

So onto the individual outfits. I'll share one today (as the original post was loooong) and the other two later to save you going crossed eyed or just getting bored!  

Outfit one

The first outfit I started was the blue one, as it was the one I was most excited by. The model would have long hair which meant the neckline needed to be low, ideally to show of the collar bone to make sure the outfit did not compete with the hair. This outfit is the one where Victorian gothic is shown in full force. 

The bodice has princess seams at the front and the back. Drafting them was a new experience for me and I used this wonderful tutorial by Sunni. The pattern extends by a few inches around the shoulders and the seam line is on the outside of the arm. It has an invisible zip on the side which I put in by hand. The bodice is made from poly satin and the seam allowance has been overlocked as this stuff frays like you will not believe. 

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The sleeves are wide and represent the wings of the magpie. They are made from a poly chiffon. If you look carefully enough you can see how they join the bodice rather awkwardly in places. This is because I had trouble drafting a sleeve - it is much harder than I imagined it to be and I have a lot to learn. The cuffs are two standard rectangles, one from white poly satin and one from cobalt silk, folded in half and then stitched together. The sleeves are gathered at the cuffs. 

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The finishing touch to the bodice was this beautiful cobalt lace that I found on Etsy and had shipped all the way from California. I can recommend Suzi from MaryNotMartha, she answered my question about the colour and then processed my order quickly so it arrived in time. I tacked the lace by hand as stitching by machine would have hit several sequins and ruined the flowers. 

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A bodice like this one could only have a particular partner. It was screaming out for a full circle skirt that hit the floor. Drafting the pattern for this was the quickest part in creating the skirt even though I was fighting with tracing paper as my table isn't big enough to fit the pattern piece on. Ideally I would have cut the skirt on the fold but that just wasn't going to happen. If I couldn't fit the piece on my table, there was no way the fabric would be wide enough to be on the fold. I had to cut out the four pieces in the hall. 

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It is finished with a rectangular waist band and closed with an invisible zip. The seams are overlocked and this is the main reason why all three outfits ate over 500m of black thread! The bottom hem was overlocked twice to give a false rolled hem. I knew that this hem would be problematic on set and it was. There was an inch and half difference in some places which led to a re-hem before the shoot started. I tried on the skirt prior to the shoot and realised at once that it needed some support. A friend came to the rescue with a knee length petticoat. It worked very well.

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The outfit was finished off with a black beaded necklace and a large glossy blue ring but unfortunately I didn't get photos of the accessories. 

Secret project revealed

You'll never guess what I did today. I attended a photo shoot for the latest hair collection designed by my hairdresser. I wasn't there to observe but to provide the outfits!

The story started t wo months ago when Andreea came to cut my hair. Within 10 minutes of entering our flat she had asked me to create the outfits for her next photo shoot. I couldn't turn down this opportunity and agreed as soon as I saw the brief - Magpies. I'll save the actual details of the outfits and their inspiration for another post but I wanted to share with you some of the behind the scenes photos I took. 

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The whole process, from beginning to end, was new to me. I haven't designed any item of clothing to a brief before, made items for people I haven't met until the day they wear them, nor been on set for a shoot. There were times when I thought I had taken on too much (especially as work has exploded over the last three weeks) but overall it was a very rewarding experience. 

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All three outfits are very simple in style which was great as I drafted most of them using my block and making changes were necessary. I even managed a refashion. The hardest part was trying to figure out how much bigger I should make the outfits - what if they were too small? I would have been mortified but luckily they all fitted quite well. One bodice was too big at the back but a safety pin took care of that. The only other change I had to make was to the hem of a very full circle skirt, you can see me pinning the hem in place here. During the actual shoot I had to make sure that the outfits looked the way I wanted. I spent a lot of time slightly altering how the bodices sat to smooth out ripples or make sure a key detail was proudly on display. It felt strange nipping onto the set between photos to do this. After nearly six hours we had enough photos to call it a day! While it was tiring, I'm really glad I did it as it was great fun. 

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It will be sometime before we have the finished photos but I'll make sure I share them with you when they are available.