Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


Finding the perfect dress for the National Blog Awards

Next month I am going to the National Blog Awards as a finalist! I am so excited to be attending the ‘Oscars of the blogging world’ and I can’t wait to catch up with my bestie Jenna who has also been shortlisted for her wedding blog Glitter Daze. Luckily, we aren’t competing against each other, as I am a finalist in the Retail and Fashion category so we can just enjoy a few drinks together, a lovely meal and enjoy all the glitz and glamour that the awards ceremony has to offer.

It’s a proper red-carpet type event and I alternate between being very exciting and very scared because I’ve no idea what the dress code ‘dress to impress’ means – Is it an occasion for long evening dresses or short prom dresses? Will everyone else there be in floor-length gowns or will I look silly in a mini dress?? It’s not a problem for my husband, who will wear his lovely shirt and blazer combo and will look fantastic as always – just the right mix of smart without trying too hard – I don’t know how he does it! But for my outfit I have no idea and I’m sure that I’ll end up in photographs at the awards so I don’t want to look a mess, nor do I want to stick out by being overdressed. So this has kick-started a massive dress hunt and here’s my shortlist:

 victorias dress outfit ideas for national blog awards                     

Black lace a-line dress or red chiffon sweetheart dress

I picked out these cheap prom dresses from one of my favourite dress websites because I know that once I choose a shape of dress I can have it made in any colour for around the same price as an off-the-peg high street dress. At least I know that no one else will be wearing the same outfit as me if I have a dress custom-made! I love the red prom dress above but I think that the chiffon might be too girly for me for such a formal occasion, so I prefer the demure shape of the black a-line dress with lace detail but – in contrast – I’d like to have it in a bright colour. Choosing the colour from the rainbow of fabrics will be difficult but I think that a deep red or dusky pink would be nice with my skintone and warm up my complexion. As you might remember, I had a colour analysis done by Janelle from Confessions of a Fashion Stylist blog and the colours that suit me best are pinks, reds and lavenders so as I’m not a big fan of lilac I think I’ll follow her advice to select a rich red because I already wear a lot of burgundy and I know I’ll feel comfortable in it.

Either way, I need to make a decision on my outfit pretty soon and when payday comes I’ll be booking my train ticket to London for the biggest event of the blogging year and I can’t wait! Of course I will report back to you on my progress in the competition and let you know how I get on during the big night – watch this space!


My country craft sewing project – adding contrast panels to a dress

This week I’ve been slaving over my sewing machine… and loving every minute of it. You see, I’ve been inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee and watching the show each week has reignited my love of sewing and making something new without spending a fortune. In fact, being thrifty and recycling fabrics are two of my favourite things and I really can’t get rid of any item of clothing without having a good think about what else I could possibly make from it. Take the two ruined shirts that I made into one good item last week (here’s my blog post) – no way was I going to send that paint-splattered shirt to landfill when I could upcycle it into a funky (or so I think anyway!) contrast shirt for my husband.

Similarly I’ve been inspired to upcycle a dress this weekend thanks to Rosie and Hannah from The New Craft Society blog. They shared information on the Hillary’s Country Craft competition on their blog and my eye was instantly drawn to the Patina Pewter fabric – I knew I could do something with this pretty metallic print and I sent off for a sample straight away. Then I got to thinking about the uses for the fabric. A cushion? Squares in a quilt? A tote bag? I wanted to come up with a fabulous project for such a glamourous piece of fabric so I got my thinking cap on… and that’s where a trip to the charity shop came in.

contrast panel dress upcycling sewing project - before

On the sale rail of the local charity shop was a fitted black dress reduced to a £1 because it had stains down the front of the dress. I immediately thought that I could upcycle the dress, replace the damaged panels and turn it into something special using my Hillary’s fabric so I snapped it up and skipped home with my purchase. I knew it would be a bigger challenge than I am used to, but I wanted to test myself and learn a few new techniques in the process so I was extra-excited when I sat down at the sewing machine this weekend and got to work.

First I removed the damaged panels from the front of the dress. This was a little harder than I’d anticipated because I had to unpick the lining before I could even get started on the panels and I had to think twice before every cut I made – would I need a little extra here for the seam? How would I attach it there? It was a long process to deconstruct the dress but eventually I had half a dress and I used the two pieces that I’d removed as a pattern to cut the replacement fabric panels with. After cutting these out I realised that I’d need to sort out the edge of the neckline before I could attach it back onto the dress so I took the facing off the inside of the original neckline and attached this to the Patina Pewter pattern piece (try saying that after a drink!) with right sides facing. I then tried out a technique that I’ve never used before but I’d seen on the Great British Sewing Bee during episode 1 – understitching. For the first time in my life I understitched around the neckline and was so surprised when it actually looked as it should and helped the facing to lie flat on the inside of the neckline – amazing! I don’t know why I’ve never done this before and I already feel much more confident about sewing necklines in the future!

contrast panel dress upcycling sewing project - steps

After a lot of fiddling to make the top pattern piece fit into the gap – making sure that the shoulder seams matched and the piece fitted into the waistline – I stitched it in place. The dress had a top again and it looked good – phew! I thought that the skirt panel would be the easiest part to insert but I first needed to hem the piece and spent time hand-stitching the blind-hem – another technique I’d never bothered with in the past. I always thought it would be too fiddly and look messy anyway, but nonetheless I got out my iron, matched the depth of the hem to the existing hem on the dress and threaded my needle with matching cotton. This woven fabric made it easy to catch a small amount of the fabric into the blind hem and kept it safely in place. Again, I’ll use this technique while making dresses in the future now that I’ve given it a go!

I inserted the panel along both sides of the skirt and, because I’d added a little extra fabric to allow for the lack of stretch, I gathered the fabric at the waistband and reattached it. I turned the dress right side out and couldn’t believe my eyes. I had a very classy dress with a pretty contrast fabric panel for a teeny tiny price – what could be better than that? It looks a bit like the hem isn’t level in these photos, but that’s just the way that the fabric is hanging on the hanger – it is straight and looks perfect when I’m wearing it! I admit I am really rather chuffed with my new dress and another item of clothing saved from landfill – not to mention a unique design that I know no one else will be wearing to any party I attend in the future!

contrast panel dress upcycling sewing project


Some amazing news & special occasion dresses

This week I got some amazing news: my best friends announced that they would be getting married this year! It will be a summer wedding and I can’t wait. Another of my best friends is also getting married this year in April (you may remember I talked about her hen party here) so this Spring and Summer will be a whirlwind of travel, ceremonies and good ol’ knees-ups! I love weddings and seeing as these are of two of the most important people in my life, it makes the occasion even more special – and it makes me even more emotional – bring on the waterproof mascara, that’s all I can say! I like to think that my husband and I are good wedding guests – in fact, we’re great at any party; anniversaries, proms, engagement parties, fundraisers etc – we arrive early, help out with anything that needs doing, we chat to parents and grandparents, we are always first on the dance floor and, most importantly, know when to leave! Plus, hubby looks great in a suit and it’s pretty exciting for me when I get to wear something a bit special and out-of-the-ordinary. We’ve all got special occasion dresses in our wardrobe, but a wedding or prom is definitely a good enough reason to go shopping for something new!

So of course I’ve already been scouring the online fashion retailers’ special occasion departments and have come up with an amazing selection from the prom department of New Look. They have gorgeous glitzy dresses that are perfect for prom parties, and therefore weddings! There’s something for every shape and size so I thought I would turn this blog post into a bit of a ‘dressing for your body shape’ article and hopefully this will help me to choose something suitable to wear for these special occasions.

new look long maxi prom dresses for weddings

If you’re tall, a prom or wedding is the perfect excuse to wear a long, glamourous maxi dress and get really dressed up. I’d suggest checking what colours your friends will be wearing to the prom so that you don’t end up looking like a girl-band and if it’s a wedding, make sure you know what colours the bridesmaids will be wearing – you don’t want to look like you’re trying to join in with the bridal party! Also, always stay away from white, ivory or cream if you’re wearing a long dress to a wedding, otherwise a short-sighted aunt might mistake you for the bride!

new look short structured prom dresses for weddings

I’m more vertically challenged in terms of height, so I’m going to stick to a shorter dress for these special occasions – but not too short! I want to be able to dance and be comfortable all day, so a mini-dress might not be suitable for a special occasion. Also, if you’d like to look a little thinner and more petite than usual (and who doesn’t want to look their best when they’re going to be popping up in photographs?!) opt for a dress with a little structure which will help to put your curves where you’d like them to be!

new look short curve prom dresses for weddings

And finally, if you want to add curves, pick a dress with gathers, ruffles and embellishments such as these above, which will add bulk in a good way and enhance your shape – plus they will look great when you’re dancing! One final tip is to not go too glitzy, because you don’t want to look like you’re trying to up-stage the bride, so perhaps all-over sequins are off the menu! But if it’s a prom you’re dressing up for – you can go all out with glitter, feathers and diamante – this is your big day after all! Here are some of the best super-star prom dresses from New Look that I really want to buy, just to sit around the house in!

new look long and short glitzy dresses for weddings

I really love the purple lace dress and the monochrome dress above, so maybe one of these will be the dress for me! All the prom dresses on the New Look website are on sale at the moment so I’m going to research the colour themes of the weddings I’m going to and will make my final choices soon. I’ll let you know how I get on :)

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My party dress

It was my birthday last week and I really enjoyed scoffing cake and celebrating with lots of girly fun! Most of all, I loved getting dressed up in this red lace dress – a special treat from La Redoute :)

my red lace birthday dress from la redoute


It’s a lovely shape, comfortable and perfectly fitted. The lace overlay is luxurious and it is definitely glamourous enough to wear to any special occasion. As I mentioned in my Tuesday Shoesday post last week, I wanted to wear it with hot pinks shoes to coordinate with my party theme and I’ll certainly be wearing it again on christmas day teamed with a green skinny belt – well, you’ve got to have a special christmas dress, don’t you?!  I feel very comfortable in this dress because it has a little extra stretch to it, (and there’s enough room for expansion if I have a massive Christmas dinner!) but don’t let the comfort fool you, it’s definitely high quality and pretty enough to stand out as a party dress – plus it makes me want to twirl, which can only be a good thing!

I actually couldn’t believe that La Redoute were selling this gorgeous dress at such a bargain price, and there are tons of glamourous party dresses in their festive sale section – I’m thinking of investing in a black version of this dress next as it will be perfect for every occasion, and if I place my order within the next 7 days it will still arrive in time for Christmas and more importantly I’ll have it in time for the New Years Eve party!


Thrifty fashion – an emerald dress

We all know that emerald is Pantone’s colour of the year for 2013 (here’s my blog post about it from January) and although we are 3/4 of the way through the year, this doesn’t mean that the colour is any less on trend. In fact, it’s really coming into its own for the festive season – jewel colours are always popular over Christmas – and the high street shops are packed full of emerald accessories and clothing. I fancied getting a skater dress in emerald ready for all the christmas parties I’ll be going to, but after failing to buy the bonprix dress below (perpetually out of stock) I’ve found that there is a severe lack of my favourite dress shape in the colours I want, so what should I do about it? What would you do? Make one? Okay!

emerald pantone colour of the year 2013 green dress top bag belt accessories jewellery

I know it might be a bit of a big project, but I’d love to make myself the ‘perfect’ dress – beautifully flared, fitted to me, with sleeves and a scoop neckline –  and in a bright emerald green! And why not? For the first time ever I’ll have a dress that is tailored to fit, rather than buying a size that’s not quite right and having to shorten straps, hem it or stitch the sides to take it in a bit. It’s certainly a challenge but one that I’d like to take on now that I have my own sewing space in my caravan. At least if I leave it hanging around half-made, it won’t be making a mess in my living room – the mess will all be contained within my ‘studio’.

Cassiefairy blog emerald dress making fabric from minerva and vogue pattern

So I hopped onto the Minerva crafts website to choose my ideal fabric for the project. I was toying with the idea of a patterned fabric (so that mistakes wouldn’t show!) but I worried about how this would be affected when using a cut-on-the-bias pattern. And when my eyes settled on the gorgeous green fabric (above) I knew it would be ideal for my custom-made dress. I also picked up an emerald green zip (I bet that would be hard to find anywhere else!) and I chose a Vogue pattern to make a cute party dress. The pattern had the option to use different necklines, different skirts and to add sleeves, so I’m sure I’ll get a lot of use out of it.

Now that my package of joy has arrived in the post, I’m about to start the process of making my own dress. I’ll take some snaps while I’m doing it and I’ll let you know how I get on. I may need some help so if you see me desperately tweeting for advice on how to add a button-hole, please message me back with any dress-making tips and tricks!


Thrifty fashion ~ Making denim look girly for summer

I don’t know about you, but I love denim for creating a cool, casual look – everyone has their favourite pair of jeans or denim jacket, but summer is a hard time of year to wear denim. Although it’s always comfy and practical (not forgetting always on trend!) it’s sometimes a little too thick or bulky to wear in this lovely hot weather. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t create a stylish summer outfit using your favourite denim wardrobe staples. When my family and I took a trip to the seaside last week, I decided that this would be my first outing in my new bonprix floral dress (yes, I know… I’ve been shopping at bonprix again!) and I dressed it down with my favourite denim jacket (also from bonprix!), my satchel (full of sunblock!) and a pair of my 1 pound pumps! My new dress was the perfect choice for such a hot day because the cotton fabric kept me cool and it was loose-fitting enough to let a breeze through! And when the wind picked up a bit, as it always does at the coast, I popped on my denim jacket and warmed up – whilst still looking suitably girly! Check out my photos:

cassiefairy lifestyle blog seaside fashion denim bon prix dress

In fact, I think I’ll be buying this same dress in one of the different colours (purple or black & red, which do you think would be best?) because it’s such a versatile dress – with the denim jacket, it looked girly and casual, but it can also be easily dressed up for a special occasion or posh afternoon tea with only a pair of cute heels. Let me know what you think about making denim work for summer – how do you wear yours??


Fashion trendspotting ~ My favourite floral fashion for summer

I’ve gone absolutely potty over florals this summer. I don’t know whether it’s because the weather is so lovely at the moment, but I’m feeling all happy and want to wear colourful clothes all the time (I’m wearing a floral top as I’m writing this, and I’m not kidding!). As you know I’ve been doing some thrifty shopping at the local carboot sales over the past couple of months and I’ve been drawn towards everything floral! I shared some photos of my carboot bargains last month, which included a floral weekend bag and here are some of the gorgeous floral prints that I’ve picked up recently:

fashion trend vintage floral patterns for summer 2013

The only downside of shopping at the carboot sales is that I can never be sure if things will fit and, although I’m pretty good with a sewing machine, it takes quite a bit of time to adjusting the bits that I buy, so I now have a massive bag full of things that don’t fit (see above!) and that I don’t have time to sew! So I’ve given myself a ban on buying things that don’t fit me and have started to shop at bargain stores online instead (I’m sat at a computer all day, so why not?!). I noticed that many of the floral clothing items I’d previously bought were from Bon Prix so I decided to check out their shop to see if they had any pretty print dresses this season. I saw a gorgeous floral tea-dress on the website for under a tenner but a couple of work emails came through at the same time and I wondered off the site without buying it. I went back on the website yesterday to buy it but to my horror it was out of stock! I’m not really surprised because it was such a bargain price and am just keeping my fingers crossed that it comes back in stock soon. In the meantime I browsed the site and found absolutely loads of floral products and have made up this wish list of my favourite items:

summer floral fashion trend wish list from bon prix png

Well, I’ve learnt my lesson after missing out on the tea-dress and now know that it’s best to snap things up as soon as they are available from this store! I’m definitely ordering the tropical floral print dress above because it’s only £6.99 (black or white – or both?!) and I think that the floral trend for Summer 2013 is more towards tropical prints rather than pretty roses. I’m currently deciding whether to splash out on a floral outfit for my 10th wedding anniversary party in August, so please give me your opinion on these floral pieces and let me know if you’ll be wearing floral this summer – leave me a comment below! :)

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