Wednesday, 15 July 2015

London Meet Up - A Review

I have just had the best weekend!

I was in London visiting my brother. The main reason for going down was to attend Secret Cinema. The film this year was Empire Strikes Back, and as my brother and I are both geeks Star Wars fans, we leaped at the chance to go. Well, I kind of leaped, then nearly fell over when I found out how much it was. Luckily my brother is both generous and better off than I, so he very kindly treated me in lieu of a birthday or Christmas present this year!

I think Secret Cinema is a bit controversial, particularly over the ticket price and whether or not it is worth it. In my opinion, it was a very expensive, but as an experience it was worth it. We were blown away. The detail was incredible. We even had drinks in the Cantina. You aren't allowed to take photos inside at all (mobile phones were to be put in sealed bags) and a friend even had his disposable camera confiscated. Which is a bit OTT, but I get it: it makes it a true suprise for everyone; no spoilers, and furthermore it means you concentrate on actually enjoying the experience, rather than worrying about Instagramming everything. It would have been nice to get a photo with Boba Fett though! :)

Our party
We were assigned characters which were made up - not from the film. Most people dressed up but with varying degrees of effort, and there were more Leias and Hans than assigned characters. I was given the character of Governor of the Alliance. I did think about making something, and even bought fabric, but time just got away from me. In the end I settled on wearing black: trousers and my black Liberty vintage Simplicity 6304, which is vaguely uniform-like. I basted an insignia badge on, to give it a more military feel, and wore the scarf they rather oddly insisted everyone wore. For the record, I think this is probably as close to cosplay as I am ever likely to get.

On to Saturday, and the London Blogger Meet Up! I was in London without kids or hubby, so perfect conditios for meeting up with some fellow bloggers/sewers. It was brilliant fun.

What you wear to a blogger meet up is very important: Red denim Kelly, with newly made Liberty Tana Crepe Emmeline Tee.

4 of us (Shivani, Charlotte Rosie and I) met to go to the Riviera Style exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum, which was brilliant. It was much bigger than I expected and covered swimwear, and some leisurewear, from the turn of the 20th Century (swim dresses, made from wool), right through to present day. It was fascinating to learn how women had to remain covered up at all costs, right down to wearing stockings in the water. Women were not even allowed to swim at first, merely "bathe".

3 bathing dresses made of wool, with removable skirts. While women were forced to wear this get up, the men were swimming naked off of a segregated beach.

First costume designed for actual swimming, and made of cotton. Designed for better movement than the bathing dresses.
Stockings to be worn with bathing costume.
The exhibition then took us through the invention of knitted fabrics in 1913 (invented by the Portland Kitting Company, eventually renamed Jantzen), the introduction in the 1930s of the "one size fits all" telescopic costume made possible with elastic and ruching, beach pyjamas (why don't these still exist), corset inspired swimwear and onto nylon and ultimately lycra via some very interesting diversions.

A costume from the 1920s or 30s

A 2 piece from the 30s - way before the invention of the bikini in the 60s
Beach pyjamas, the perfect cover up. Look at that gorgeous fabric, and the angled hem.

A Horrockses playsuit. I would definitely wear this! Look at that print!

Another playsuit which I think was also Horrockses
L-R: Blue velvet 2-piece, Gold Lame one-piece, beautiful highwaisted 2-piece, Closet Case Files Bombshell inspiration
Some of the more... er.. interesting mens' offerings. From top left, clockwise: wool trunks with a modesty panel (I'm imaging to stop any cling...,) satin trunks, lace up satin trunks (of course!), "Men's enhancing trunks" featuring "show it technology", applique mens' costumes from the 30s.
This, to me, is the epitome of 60's swimwear, and I love it.

A "trikini", which is made from 3 pieces of fabric. This doesn't seem the most flattering of garments. And in towelling too.

1980's styles. In the words of the brochure "with internal structure removed, the responsibility for body-moulding was transferred from the manufacturer to... the wearer". Hmmm.
We were able to take photos, which was great, although the lighting wasn't brilliant. But unfortunately no touching was permitted, much to the disappointment of the 4 of us, and our itchy fingers.

L-R: Jo, Elena, me, Rosie, Charlotte, Claire
 After the exhibition we had lunch in the museum cafe, where we were joined by Claire, Jo and Elena (Shivani had to leave us at this point). After lunch and a blether covering topics as diverse as sewing, Scottish politics and the Kardashians, we headed off to Goldhawk Road for a spot of fabric shopping, where we were further joined by Alison. I'm afraid I did not keep track of which shops we went into, and where I bought what, but I think we started in A One fabrics (or something similar) and worked our way along.

I was restrained. I was travelling with hand luggage only, so was concerned about weight and I went with a vague list of things to look for, but not intending to buy them all. I did pretty well, with the coral silk being the only off list fabric. And not a print in sight!

L-R: royal blue cotton, coral silk crepe de chine, chambray
After about 4 or 5 shops I had to head off again and meet my brother for dinner.

On the Sunday, my brother and I went for a walk and eventually ended up in Marlyebone High Street, where we mooched around expensive furniture shops, bought cheese and had lunch, before I had to head back to the airport.

I lived in London in a previous life - I moved back to Scotland nearly 12 years ago - and although I had reached a point where I no longer wanted to live there, I still love it passionately. We both (the city and I) have changed a great deal in the interim, and although I largely spent the weekend in East London, whereas when I lived there, West London was my 'hood, it was nice to get back under its skin. When I lived in London, I was single and childless, and my day exploring and meeting people on Saturday, took me back to my time there; meeting friends for lunch, seeing exhibitions without having to worry about naps, baby changing facilities, or even having to rush home to relieve P. Of course I missed my boys terribly, but having that freedom was nostalgic, refreshing and liberating. It was like a holiday.


  1. It all sounds amazing. And to see the political/social changes in swimsuits as well as the fashion. Although that 80's bikini would have been worn with the "waistband" for want of a better word, hitched right up to the waist at the hips - low slung was NOT the look back then. :)

  2. It was so lovely to meet you at last!

  3. It was so lovely to meet you at last!

  4. It was so lovely to meet you at last!

  5. Sounds amazing! Glad you had such a great time :)

  6. Looks like a fab weekend!

  7. That exhibition looks fab. Glad you had a great time.


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