Cherry blossom girl

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KonnichiwaI don’t know about you but when summer arrives and the whole world seems to bloom into life around you, all I want to reach for is florals! This dress is a perfect example. I’m not sure if that’s what these beautiful blooms are, but to me they are reminiscent of dreamy pink cherry blossoms.

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As you may have noticed, things were a little quiet around here in May… That’s because I had an absolute whirlwind of a month. I celebrated a special birthday – the big 3-0! – with a house party, a trip to London with my parents AND then my hen/bachelorette party with my best girls! (My man and I are already married but we’re having a big wedding party in England this August!) Fear not though, there are quite a few posts coming up to keep you updated on all my adventures!

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London calling!

For now, let me tell you more about this gorgeous shirt dress! I picked up this piece while I was in London (along with some other exciting finds!). I looked up a few vintage stores in advance so I could make the most of my time in the capital. I also decided to hunt for more summery items – especially bold prints – which helped me narrow things down. One of the things that’s so exciting about vintage stores is the huge variety, but it can be a little overwhelming at first so it’s good to have a goal. I love diving into a rail of seemingly garish clashing patterns and colours knowing there’s something hiding in there, just waiting for you to find! It’s a feeling you just don’t get on the high street.

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Ready to rummage

I uncovered this little baby at Beyond Retro – a great vintage chain which also has an online store if you’re feeling inspired! I loved the shopping experience there, especially being served by a punk with bleached hair, plugs and a neck tattoo, who was so friendly and polite (how British!). Not to mention the amazing 90s tracks which were playing in store. I’ll definitely be back next time I’m in town.

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Oddly enough, this gem didn’t really stand out on the hanger. The cut looked slightly shapeless and the bold blue colour was somehow flat. I’m not sure what drew me to this piece but it just shows – it’s worth trying things on even if you’re not 100% sure. You’ve got nothing to lose. As soon as I slipped this on, the cut was immediately super flattering and the colours just popped. I had to have it. The shirt dress cut is tailored with ties at the waist, creating a high-low hem at the bottom, and the beautiful cobalt blue brings out my eye colour (if I do say so myself!). Now it’s time to get out there and soak up the sun!

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My outfit:

Dress: Vintage from Beyond Retro

Sandals: Old, from Zara

A spring tulip

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Well hello there! I’m feeling so chirpy now spring is in the air! I am a big fan of this time of year – the birds are singing, the evenings are brighter, the flowers are in full bloom. What’s not to love?

In anticipation of this special time, I sewed up one of my #makenine2018  projects I’d been planning to make for a while, a light and breezy, super simple tulip skirt. It was a joy to sew and the fit is really flattering. Plus the fabric I picked is this dreamy daffodil yellow. Just the thing for spring!

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Matching one of the many waffle trucks in Brussels!

Not so long ago, I enjoyed a lovely spring weekend in Brussels with my husband. So of course this skirt was the first thing I added to my suitcase! It was great for a city break as it’s so comfy and stylish. Just perfect for relaxed sight-seeing strolls, people-watching in cafés and wandering around art galleries (not to mention dashing into the nearest pub for a beer during a sudden April shower!).

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A slightly precarious pose!

For my city look, I went with this relaxed polo neck top, which is so simple but so effective! And this piece is equally great for the office, smartened up with a floral blouse and a pair of brogues.

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The only thing I’m considering changing is adding a silky lining. As you can see slightly in the photos, the cotton fabric has a tendency to cling to tights. This won’t be a problem with bare legs over the next few months but if I want to wear this skirt all year round (and I do), then tights are essential!

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This photo was what sparked the idea for this skirt in my head and I think I stayed pretty true to my original intention. I can’t wait to wear mine with tanned legs and sandals! I found it on Pinterest, which is a huge source of inspiration for me. If you’re not on there, where have you been? Check it out – and follow me at alicecatherinebee if you’d like to get more of an idea of my style (and other interests).  Happy pinning! And happy spring!

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What I wore:

Skirt: Sew Over It Tulip Skirt

Cropped polo neck stripe top: H&M

Boots: New Look

Hometown thrifting

Today I’m musing on the pros and cons of second hand vs high street. This blog is all about weaning myself off my fast fashion habit and I am making progress… but I can’t seem to give it up completely!

I recently visited my family in England for a long weekend and took with me a cute jumpsuit I found in a second-hand shop there a few years ago. My parents have this fabulous full-length mirror, which I took full advantage of for a couple of outfit photos.

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I come from a town called Beverley. It’s small but perfectly formed – a quintessential British town! Aside from all of its other charms, it boasts an array of charity shops. I remember my mum dragging me into a few of these as a child, and feeling absolutely mortified in case anyone from school saw me!

I’m glad to say I’m not so concerned with the opinions of others these days, and most people I speak to are more impressed than judgemental when I mention that the piece they admired is actually pre-owned! These days, there’s something cool about thrifting – it shows that you have a good eye and a unique style, and that you’re not a slave to the high street. When we can so easily copy someone’s look simply by swiping up on Instagram, it’s no longer quite so exciting to get your hands on a coveted piece from the high street.

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However, while this jumpsuit is super cute, I did feel it was in need of an update. Stripes never go out of style but colour stripe T-shirts like this are particularly on trend right now. I knew what I wanted and I didn’t wanted to spend ages trying to find it. So what did I do but snap up this T-shirt from New Look while I was at home. With a high street shop stocking exactly what I was looking for at such a low price, and with limited time available to trawl through thrift stores for something similar, it proved too hard to resist! I felt like this jumpsuit needed an update and it was as easy as that. So there you have it, while I love the unique touch a home-sewn or thrifted piece can give your look, I can’t seem to give up the convenience of fast fashion. I’m not giving up on my aim of cutting the high street out of my wardrobe,  but it’s fair to say I’ve got a long way to go!

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Outfit details:

Jumpsuit: Beverley British Heart Foundation store, originally from Boohoo

T-shirt: New Look

An autumn skirt in spring

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My latest sewing project is one that’s been on my to-do list for a while. My mum bought me a kit containing the fabric and zip as a gift from a holiday in Scotland a few years ago but somehow I’ve never got round to tackling it until now. I’m trying to use up what I have in my stash before starting anything new so I thought it was finally time to give it a go. Having said all that, I used quite a simple pattern so I managed to construct it pretty quickly once I set my mind to it!

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As I alluded to in the title, this is more of an autumnal piece, mainly due to the fabric. However, spring has not quite sprung here yet, meaning this skirt actually seems to have come around at the perfect time! I went on a dog walk through the woods at the weekend and, as you can see from my photos, the brown tones in the fabric mirrored my surroundings in the forest.

I kept the fit fairly relaxed because I think this will be a great piece for work and, as anyone who works in an office knows, the last thing you want is a tight waistband digging into you when you’re sitting at a desk for hours at a time. This also means I can tuck nice warm jumpers in at the waist too, making it perfect for spring/autumn dog walks!

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The only thing I wasn’t really happy with was the insertion of the zip, as it is very visible at the back. This is mostly because I used the zip included in the kit, which is quite chunky. I don’t think it annoys me to the extent that I would buy and insert a new one. Just something to bear in mind for future projects is to always go with an invisible zip!

Special thanks go to the gorgeous Edda for helping me model this look!

 

My outfit:

Jumper, New Look

Skirt, homemade

Tights, H&M

Brogues, Topshop

Carnival queen

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Something I have been gradually (i.e. reluctantly!) embracing here in Germany is the tradition of Carnival. These are the festivities that occur before Lent, typically with a parade, masks and costumes, excessive eating and drinking, dancing and public celebrations… It puts the British tradition of Pancake Day to shame!

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The parade in Cologne!

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The floats sometimes have a political theme…

While it is lots of fun to get together with friends and you do get a day off work, it’s bloody freezing outside and traditional German Carnival drinking songs leave something to be desired in my opinion! The thing is, I live in Dusseldorf which, along with its neighbour Cologne, is a hotspot for the festivities. So, having been invited to lots of parties over the past few years I’ve tried my best to leave my negativity aside, just go with the flow and have fun!

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It’s all about bright colours and funny costumes

As any good Carinval-goer knows, the first thing you need is a cool costume! I initially fought my way through the hoards of frantic, last-minute costume hunters at the nearest fancy dress shop, only to find that everything was badly made of tacky materials and sold at extortionate prices. No, thank you! After recovering from this trauma, I went across the road to a second-hand shop and managed to find something infinitely better for a fraction of the price!

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On this occasion, I just went in with no expectations and this suede waistcoat and skirt set, along with with a very fetching headscarf, just jumped out at me. It turned out to be a much better strategy than going shopping with my heart set on one particular thing. As a keen fancy-dresser since my uni days, I once set myself the very precise goal of hunting down a Margot Tennenbaum costume (which I would still love to find some day!), but I ended up just feeling frustrated at spotting a whole host of other potential costumes, but not the exact one I had in my head! Basically, it helps if you don’t have something too specific in mind. Then you are open for the right pieces to find you!

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I just added a striped Mango top and an old pair of snug lace-up boots and my pirate look was complete. It has seen me through three years of Carnival celebrations and I still really loved wearing it last weekend! It’s nice to have an outfit that’s not made of cheap polyester or moulting fake fur, and even if there are other pirates at the party, I know my look is still unique! Plus, with a few extra layers, it makes an outdoor celebration in February seem achievable!

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3 years ago with my now husband. Loving the look… apart from the excessive eyeliner!

Maybe I could do with some rotation after three years rocking the same look… But next year I’m thinking of turning this set into a cowgirl costume. All I need a stetson and a check shirt! Yee-haw!

#makenine2018

Have you heard of this hashtag? It’s where keen sewers post nine patterns they plan to make this year. I love this idea! I’m so nosey – I really like having a peek into other people’s imaginations and intentions for the year ahead. It’s a great one for finding patterns you might not have come across before.

So I’ve put together mine for you to peruse too (albeit slightly late as we’re already in February)! Whether or not I actually manage to complete all of these projects is a different matter… But I’ve actually got stuck in to some of them already, so it has proved to be a useful starting point at the very least.

So without further ado, here are my #makenine2018:

 

1. New Look 6107: This is bafflingly titled “Women’s Sportswear” ?! I would personally class it as workwear, but go with whatever you want guys. This is one of the first patterns I ever bought and I can say without doubt that the skirt is foolproof! I’m currently making a brown tartan version for workff5773e60e15d217d2256f7c32c6416b, with some fabric which my mum bought me from Scotland. Doesn’t sound very glamorous, but I think it will be! I got the motivation for this make from this Zara skirt hauled by the gorgeous Alice Catherine (my name twin!) as well as photos like this on Pinterest. I also want to try out the top at some point as it also looks beautiful on the front cover. Not sure if that counts as cheating as this technically includes two pieces I want to make!

2. Ansa Butterfly Sleeve Dress: Can’t you just instantly see that this would be an amazingly flattering dress? This is the kind of thing you can just throw on and look great. You look as if you’ve made loads of effort, without even trying! I can see myself wearing this to a wedding and I have a few lined up this year so here’s hoping I can sew one up in time! For fabric, I’m thinking of crepe in teal or petrol blue.

 

 

 

3. Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Pinafore + Dungaree Dress: I think just about everyone and their dog has made this pattern! But that can only be a good sign! I don’t currently have a dungaree dress in my wardrobe and I think I would get a lot of wear out of it. I’d love to make a black denim version with buttons down the middle, but a pink corduroy design (like the one in the main image) is first on my to-do list! Basically a dress version of these two stunning looks from Isabella and Sophia:

4. Sew Over It 1940’s Tea Dress: I love a good tea dress. They are so girly yet still really versatile. I found that this stunning design by Jeanne Damas’ brand Rouje just totally took my breath away… but so did te3d40e8e6a45bab67862312c976a2181he price tag! So I hunted around for a pattern I could use to create something similar. This 40’s tea dress isn’t an exact match but it’s pretty close, bar the button placket down the front. Perhaps I could add this in later? Full-length buttons must be a trend at the moment because I’ve had this same thought with about three of these patterns! Anyway, I think I would get so much wear out of it in the summer. Just the thing to pack in your holiday suitcase. Now I’m just on the hunt for a similar fabric. It’s proving to be quite tricky to find something with pink flowers on a red background but I’m determined to hunt it down somewhere! Watch this space…

 

5. Slow Sunday Tilia dress:  I was introduced to this company by the wonderful Rosabella from Sewn. As she mentions in her video, all their patterns are in French but hopefully I could still manage to interpret the instructions! I would love to make it up in blue velvet, like this dress modelled by the fabulous Olivia, or even a leather number like this inspired look made using this pattern:

6. Papercut Guise Pants: These caught my eye while scrolling through the huge selection on the Papercut site. And when Julie said it was her go-to pattern for trousers, my mind was made up. I already have some similar pairs of trousers but I think you can never have to many. They look smart but they’re actually more comfortable than jeans. They’re perfect for work but they’ll take you from day to night too. Have I convinced you yet? Not sure about fabric yet but Pinterest is again providing some initial ideas:

7. Style Arc Giselle Dress: I have to admit, this is another cheat! As well as making the dress, I’d love to hack a frilly wrap top and skirt from this pattern. These cuts were mega huge trends last summer and I’m hoping they will be back this year! In terms of fabrics, I would go for reds, pinks, florals and polka dots. Not great in January — but at least I have ages to whip these pieces up before the summer!

8. Sew Over It Kimono Jacket: I can’t wait to get stuck into this one! It looks like such a simple make for such as beautiful result. I already have a similar top to this and it instantly jazzes up any outfit. You can really go wild with fabric choice on this one and create so many different looks. I’m leaning towards Asian-style designs with gorgeous florals and beautiful, flowing drapes. Talk about a dream sewing project!

9. Sew Over It Tulip Skirt: Ok, I’ve really gone to town on the Sew Over It patterns in this list. I just couldn’t help myself! I actually already have the fabric for this one. It’s a lovely mustard-coloured cotton. Hopefully it should turn out looking something a bit like this:

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Phew! So there we have it! I’ll be sure to include the finished makes in some future posts. Let me know which designs made your top nine!

Alice x

 

Parklife

85C794FA-23F6-4FC4-BF7C-677DF25744E3A winter coat. Surely one of the most important pieces in your entire wardrobe! At least if you live in a chilly climate like me. The day we took these photos, the temperature wasa a crisp 2°C. But we still decided to be brave, get out there (if only briefly!) and enjoy some winter sunshine at the skate park around the corner, where I could show off my parka.

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A couple of years ago I was shopping with friends when we invented the word “smnug”. This term describes the smug sensation you get from feeling extra snug and cosy when it’s freezing outside! This is the only way I can express how I felt when I discovered this coat among the overstuffed rails of a second-hand shop.

The shop in question was Broke. I was tipped off about it by a friend, who just casually mentioned it in passing. Like the fashion fiend I am, I squirreled it away for a rainy day, the likes of which come around pretty quicky here! Predictably it wasn’t long till I popped in one dark and rainy autumn evening and I wasn’t disappointed.

I love the relaxed vibe you often find in second-hand shops like this. They have kind of salespeople who just genuinely want to chat and aren’t keeping an eye on you or pushing you into making a purchase. Plus the selection was vast (hence the overstuffed rails!) and I took several things with me into the makeshift changing room. I very nearly fell for a vintage Levi’s denim jacket but as soon as I felt the fluffy soft faux fur of this coat I knew I had to have it.

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Wrapped up warm on a wintery walk on our ‘minimoon’

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At the Christmas market in the coat of dreams. Seriously I haven’t taken it off all winter!

I’m telling you, I’ve never felt anything as soft as this coat! I wish you could reach through the screen and touch the fluffy faux fur lining. It’s the main reason I haven’t left the house without this bad boy all winter! It’s like stepping into a huge bear hug every morning!

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Despite being second hand, it wasn’t cheap but as it was as good as new, I was happy to invest — and the cost per wear must be measured in pennies at this point! I had never heard of the brand HoodLamb before but I could instantly see it was very high quality and will last me a long time. And after a quick Google, I was happy to learn that they are also a cruelty-free brand with a focus on using organic and recycled materials — specifically hemp. So my biggest purchase of the year was a huge step towards my sustainable wardrobe goal! That’s definitely something to feel smnug about.

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My outfit

Coat: HoodLamb from Broke, find similar here

Beret: Accessorize

Jumper: Very old from Topshop

Jeans: Harland Skinny fit by Earnest Sewn

Boots: Second-hand Vagabond ankle boots