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Royal Ascot Ladies’ Day – The Fashions

So, our day started well – six of us met at Templecombe station, cracked open the champagne on the platform and caught the 9.45 to Reading for the first leg of our train journey to Ascot.

Two stops in (Tisbury) someone laughingly asked if we’d all got our tickets. Mr. H-L and I thought each other was joking when we both said “No”.


This is us after alighting at Tisbury, ready to catch the next train back to Templecombe. Luckily, a friend had a house key and popped in to collect the tickets. She dropped them off at the ticket office for us to save time as we had got a lift to the station and had no means of getting home.

Having caught the next train, we were only an hour behind. Of course, all the food and champagne had gone on ahead with our friends, so we had to try and recreate the excitement with Pringles and Prosecco bought on the train.

We’d opted to travel First Class so it was no problem. We got chatting to a few other race-goers on the two and a half hour journey and two changes of train.

And at least we’d got our tickets!!

Safely in by 1pm, we had time for proper bubbly before the Royal Procession at 2 o’clock.

Bubbles were flowing like a river and everyone was having a great time, gearing up to the first race at 2.30.

We ambled over to the parade ring in time to watch the Royal Carriages arrive. Queenie looked radiant in cerise, although Prince Phillip was too ill to accompany her this year so Prince Andrew is sat next to her.

And then the action began!

We had our race card and picked this patriotic-looking bookie with which to place our bets.

We won some, we lost some. The viewing is great despite the thousands of people as the huge screen means you don’t miss a thing, which is otherwise possible despite the horses thundering past just a few yards away as the photo below illustrates.

On to the fashions of the day. Our party of six scrubbed up pretty well, I think.

These are two close friends who feature a lot on the blog.

Another friend who joined us for the first time this year.

Lovely Ruth from the USA was in England for just a week and her first day coincided with Royal Ascot, an event that was on her bucket list – AND she even got to see the Queen! She was one happy American!

And, of course, you’ve already seen pictures of The Mister and Me.

Dress codes are slightly less formal in the Queen Anne Enclosure, but there were plenty of gents still choosing top hat and tails.

Yes, that is a man touting Stella Artois by the pint in a barrel on his back.

Three piece suits seemed to be the most popular mens’ attire by far, and there were a surprising number of different looks.

How about this bright red one, scarlet right down to the matching shoes and trilby!

More variations on formal menswear, some good……

….and some not so good!

As for the ladies, hmmm.

A few got it very right and embraced the elegant, classy look that Ascot is famous for.

A lot more were almost there, but missed the fact that hemlines should ideally be knee length or lower.

Some girls thought bodycon Lycra was an appropriate choice!

But, unfortunately, there were far too many girls in their early twenties who just didn’t get it. I couldn’t bring myself to photograph them, but this press photo from Aintree races gives you the gist. More like “Barbie Goes To The Races”.

The hats were incredible as usual.

Although not my thing, fascinators were a very popular choice with many ladies. A massive hat wins every time for me:)

The six races were over all too soon, then it was off to do the traditional singing around the bandstand at 6pm.

Just time to nip into the shop before heading back to the train.

There was even a mobile seller with Cuban cigars.

The fifteen minute walk back to the station saw the majority of ladies in flip flops, hobbling after a day in ill-fitting-but-gorgeous shoes. Not me – I kept mine on all the way home!

First Class was full to bursting on the return journey, but we were fortunate enough to get seats on all three changes of train.

On this leg, the carriage was silent until The Mister pipes up at the top of his voice “SWEET CAR-O-LINE….!” And the rest of the carriage finished it with “…..Bah, bah, bah!” What followed was a spontaneous rendition of all the other songs that had just been sung around the bandstand that continued until the next change of train – great finish to a fabulous day!!

I’m already thinking about next year’s dress – we’re going to upgrade to fine dining so an even posher dress could be on the cards. 

Any suggestions gratefully received!


Dress For Royal Ascot 

As usual, I made myself a new dress for Ascot this year – to read all about the slightly rushed experience (I made it the day before!) just click on the link below which will take you to the full blog post over at Minerva Crafts.

Burda 6869 Dress For Royal Ascot


Royal Ascot Ladies Day 2015

Wow – what a scorcher!

Sunshine and blue skies greeted us as we prepared to board the party bus limo at 9am, me wearing the dress I made and Mr H-L in a matching tie.

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We had originally planned on travelling by traditional limousine but, as numbers grew to fourteen, we had to go by limo bus instead.


Plenty of room inside to enjoy the journey in style….


Champagne and champagne cocktails went down well.



Extremely well.


Too well?


Did I mention the pole in the corner?

Let this be a warning to anyone who decides that drinking champagne at 9.30 in the morning is a good idea!

Pole dancing

Is that TEN empty bottles in the ice bucket?!!!!

There was another bar opposite this one too……



Mr H-L dived in the cool bags at the back of the bus to get more bubbly, just as the bus went round a corner…


All fifteen stone of him landed squarely on twelve carefully stacked Ascot hats!

Luckily, they nearly all bent back into shape, and the one with a hole survived emergency surgery using eyelash glue.


Traffic was pretty bad getting into Ascot itself so, having finally arrived at 1.30, we headed straight for the parade ring to see The Queen arrive.


No great photo of Her Majesty this year, I’m afraid – I found out too late that I had a smudge on my lens.

I can tell you that she was wearing a mint green outfit though.

With Her Majesty in her carriage this year were Prince Phillip, Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice.


I picked the winner in the Gold Cup!


Jugs of Pimms kept us going in the heat.


Or, if you preferred a beer, Stella Artois was being lugged around in giant backpacks by these guys who were selling it for five pounds a pint.


People watching doesn’t get any better than at Ascot on Ladies Day – there were some incredible outfits, most of which I wasn’t quick enough to photograph.

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This one is for Ali – the jumpsuit trend has started!


Mostly, the gentlemen looked lovely in either the traditional morning suit…


…or contemporary twist on a two piece suit.

I just had to ask this chap for a photo.


His mint green suit matched the Queen’s choice of colour – don’t you just love the gold brogues?!

Although the dress code insists on a “matching two-piece suit with collared shirt and tie”, it doesn’t mention socks – so these two followed it to the letter.

I wonder if they dispensed with the boxer shorts too?

(Ooh, can you see Mr H-L in the background buying another jug of Pimms?)

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No.1 Son tells me that going sockless is the latest thing. Yuk.

Someone needs to tell them their trousers seem to have shrunk in the wash, too.

They wouldn’t get away with that in the Royal Enclosure a few feet away.

Royal Enclcosure

Hello Dawn!

She’s the lady in pale blue who does a wonderful job of organizing this each year.



Fish and chips for lunch, although the seafood bar is on the list for next year.


The atmosphere in front of the grandstand was electric and the noise, deafening, as the horses thundered down the last 1/2 furlong.


We had two placed in the sixth, and final, race of the day – Second and Third with “Scottish” and “Marma’s Boy”….


….and celebrated our success with another bottle of champagne, Laurent Perrier Rosé this time.


At £110 a bottle, it was a bargain!

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6pm marks the start of the Singing Around the Bandstand, a popular tradition, synonymous with Royal Ascot.




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At the end of a completely brilliant day, it was flips-flops on for the short walk back to the limo bus….


….which had already left without us!

But that’s another story……..


Bellville Sassoon Dress For Ascot

Well, I’ve had a wonderful two days virtually locked away in my studio, only surfacing for the occasional fuel break – No.1 Son has even been making sure my G&T levels didn’t drop below a critical level!

What have I been so immersed in?

This year’s dress for Ascot – Vogue 1108 by Bellville Sassoon.


It has been BRILLIANT getting my teeth into a proper Couture make again.

Don’t get me wrong though, I love quick and easy dressmaking projects but, once in a while it’s just fantastic to challenge myself with something a bit more meaty, so to speak.

Vogue classify this as an ‘Average’ make in terms of difficulty, and I agree – I have made much more complicated dresses than this.

I love the labels that come with each designer pattern for you to sew into the garment:)


This bundle of fabric arrived from Minerva Crafts – several different types of fabric in a glorious shade of Fuschia: –


There was Bengaline for the main body of the dress, organza for interfacing, lining and habotai for the foundation layer and, yes, that is boning you see sat on top of the lot!

Let me tell you now that there are over SIXTY pieces of fabric holding this dress together and only FIVE are visible from the outside!

That is a hell of a lot of construction hidden inside and I used up two entire 100m reels of thread in the process!

I love a good puzzle and this pattern had a few to solve, such as all those pleats on the left front:


I won’t take you through much of the process because that would take up more space that any blog post should do – I’ll just whizz through the main bits.

First, you make the pleats and darts in the front and back sections.


Next, you make the foundation which is the middle bit of the dress sandwiched between the outer dress and the lining.

It consists of a lining layer, fully interfaced, which has the boning sewn to it.


The instructions called for boning in its own casing but, as I couldn’t get any, I made my own using normal boning and some offcuts of habotai.




This is the inside showing the boning in place….


….and this is what it looks like from the right side.


Very nice.

It’s almost a shame that all this beautiful work will be completely hidden from view:)

The foundation sections are then sewn to the body of the dress….


….and the front is stitched to the back at the side seams, leaving an opening for the zip.


Now, I have never used a dedicated foot to insert invisible zips, I learned to sew them using a normal zipper foot and don’t find it an issue.

I don’t know if you can see, but I open the zip up and sew really close to the teeth in the same way a specialized foot would do.


There, pretty invisible, wouldn’t you agree?


The zip needed shortening which is just a case of sewing a new stopper from thread and cutting off the excess below.



Now, onto the lining.

Of course, all the way through we’re sewing princess seams – isn’t it a little bit of magic when you fit the fabric around the curve? Like fitting a square peg into a round hole, it doesn’t seem possible at first.


A few clips to the stay-stitching and job done!


Lining completed.


The lining is slipped over the dress and foundation and sewn right sides together around the neckline and armhole edges.


The bow, which is stiffened with organza, was made and secured in place amongst the pleats.


The hem was faced with organza and turned up with herringbone stitch.


The lining was slip stitched to the hem, leaving a folded pleat as ease.


Looking at the inside when finished, you’d have no idea of what it’s hiding underneath!


The quality of the fabrics is amazing – the bengaline handles beautifully and has a discreet watermark to it.

The polyester habotai was chosen as an alternative to china silk for the foundation and looks and feels superb – such a shame it’s hidden!

This dress does not photograph well on the hanger – all those pleats only sit properly on a real body.


Oops – better press the hemline before Ascot!


So, what will I accessorize with?

I made two jackets for Ascot last year  – this is the other one (see last year’s post).


The boning means I shouldn’t have to wear a bra but, looking at this photo I definitely do. My bust is too heavy and is dragging the front down causing it to gape – a strapless bra will do the trick.


So this is me, all ready for Ladies Day on Thursday and there’s just one more thing left to do…..


…. get my French manicure redone – it’s all stained from handling all that pink fabric!!


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Ascot Ladies Day – What to wear??

Formal dress with on-the-knee or below length skirt, shoulders covered, hat or substantial fascinator.  That’s the easy part, but what actually to wear?

I have just one hat which I bought second hand over ten years ago.  I still love it and see no point in buying another.  It was a designer bargain and it comes out for weddings and Ascot and, as it is a classic navy, goes with everything.

I have a navy leather Osprey handbag (a bargain from TKMaxx) and some L K Bennett navy wedges (another bargain from Kilver Court) so the accessories were sorted.

I bought a lovely red-with-white-polka-dots dress from TKMaxx for our first wedding anniversary last month when we went to Geneva and haven’t worn it since.  Red and navy are great together, so I decided to go with that.

But I don’t own a suitable jacket.

It was Monday and Ascot was on Thursday so, knowing I could spend an entire day shopping and still not find what I was looking for, I popped over to Hanson’s fabric warehouse in Sturminster Newton with an aim to making one.

What a fabulous place, I love going there!  I wanted a bolero style and ended up going for this one by Simplicity: –


I really wanted navy silk and couldn’t believe it when they didn’t have any:(

Anyway, as I only needed one metre of fabric and lining, I bought navy linen and red silk.  My theory being that both would be useful additions to my wardrobe and, at less than forty pounds including the pattern, a bargain to boot!

I don’t know if you can see on the picture of the pattern above, but I made the navy one in style B and the red one in style F.

This is the navy one; slightly longer in length and with a straighter neckline: –


I bought some gorgeous coat lining which looks fabulous,


The only gripe I had was with the actual pattern itself – it really was too simple and the lack of tailoring lets it down in my opinion. For instance, the lining was too simple without any facings and the armhole edges were just overlocked which was awful.  I found some black satin ribbon in my stash and bound the raw edges with it and it looks much better now.


I prefer to buy Vogue designer patterns which are very advanced, but are more likely to take ten hours rather than the two that this one took!  I didn’t have much time and anyway, this really was the only style I liked in all the pattern books that would suit the outfit.

When I made the red one I altered the pattern slightly so that the lining was inserted differently and is consequently much neater.


Look at this finishing – much better!


The silk is a dupion with a slub effect – it shimmers as the light changes.  Here’s a close up.


I put the finished outfits together on a hanger and decided to go with the red jacket, which is ironic considering I would have bought navy silk had it been in stock:)


So this is me, champagne in hand, ready to go….


…and this is with my lovely friend Andrea with whom I had a fabulous day!


Do you want to see some more?  Yes?  OK then; this is Dawn on the way up in our minibus.

And, yes, we are drinking champagne at 8.30 in the morning:)


These are the other girls we went with.


At the Winner’s Enclosure waiting for Her Maj to arrive….


And here she is!


They hand round a Carriage List so you know who’s in which carriage.  It seems Rory Bremner hob nobs with royalty!



This was a typical crowd around one of the many champagne bars…..


…and this was the champagne list.  £80 for the cheapest bottle!!!


Here are a few photos of the outfits and hats on display –







So that’s the story of my Ascot Ladies Day outfit dilemma – what did you wear?