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