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Category: General Chitchat

  1. Why I'm Loving this Winter's Trends

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    sparkly shoes A trip to the shops gives you a pretty much instant idea on the current fashion and accessories trends. Some things are still here from last year: sequins, lots of bling, pleated skirts and animal prints. Last year, I thought that all these sparkly and shiny things were way too much for me, but after a year of it, my eyes have become accustomed to the disco ball look and I am totally embracing it! Animal prints are rather classic, so I will not be surprised if they turn up next autumn winter too. 

    Things that I noticed were new this year: stars, velvet and big sleeves... I'm loving the cute star prints, star jewellery, and luxurious soft velvets on jumpsuits, long dresses, or even trousers, but the big sleeves are my absolute favourite this season. I must admit that the giant shoulders are not quite my thing, being quite petite in height and frame. I don't quite like the look of an inverted triangle, or even a big rectangle or square (if you happen to be a bit more peary in shape). But big sheer sleeves, yes please! Why? Well, for a start, I for once, am a huge fan of 'comfort' winning on style. And in the winter, it's cold! Sleeves are just the thing when going out an evening, without feeling like you will have to cross the tundra before reaching the bar.

    Secondly, my flabby arms are one of the things that I don't like about myself (like many people of course, there are lots of other little niggles that I am unhappy about, but let's not dwell on those!). So sleeves are perfect to hide these little arm imperfections, whether you have bingo wings, big arms, hairy armpits, pasty arms and other arm related issues! And sheer sleeves are even better in my opinion because they give the illusion of having your arms out, without actually revealing much detail. 

    And finally, after years of seeing people's shoulders out - strapless, little straps, complex straps, skinny spaghetti straps, boob tubes and the lot, it's actually lovely to see interesting shapes and textures being added on the arms and shoulders. My favourite is definitely any form of transparent fabric on the arms, whether it's a shape-holding organza for a bit of pouffiness, soft chiffon for boho flow, textured lace for a bit of a more classic look, or pretty embroidered tulle for a bit of quirkiness, I love them all.

    So as a little treat for myself, I made myself a dress for a Christmas party this year. And of course, it included big sleeves (I chose chiffon for a flowy style), velvet, and unsurprisingly for me, it was black. My husband bought me some sparkly shoes to match. And on my Christmas list this year, I've put a cute little star necklace... I'll have to wait and see if it will appear under the tree on Christmas morning!

    For now, wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a wonderful new year, and looking forward to seeing you in 2020!

    bespoke black velvet dress front  bespoke black velvet dress back


    Blue Lily Magnolia, Nantwich, Cheshire - makes bespoke dresses and accessories for formal occasions, weddings. For any queries on dress making or alterations, please contact Sharon on 07766766573, or email [email protected]

  2. A day in the life of...

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    Sewing 1Today, I want to share with you a little insight on a day in my work life as a designer, dressmaker, accessories maker, and alterations master! I want to do this now, early in the year, because it's a reasonably quieter time for me, and I actually get to have a little bit of variety in my day! Such as the luxury of writing a blog for example! During the busy pre-wedding seasons, it is often all dominated by a rotation of meeting clients / alterations / accessories making / trips to the post office, but at this time of the year, I actually get to do other things like some 'thinking'!! So today, my blog will actually be about my day yesterday!

    8:55am: My work day always start after I drop my daughter to school. Thankfully, it's only a short trip to school and back home, and generally I am ready to start by 9am with cup of coffee. My first stop is always a look at my diary. Actually, this starts on the evening before, or first thing when I wake up.

    I genuinely cannot function without my paper diary. Sometimes I use Google calendar and other online calendars, but I find myself having to duplicate everything and write things down again, so for the good old fashioned me, a paper diary is an absolute essential! So on my diary yesterday was a reminder to work on my website, working on Lizzy's dress, and meeting with new client Poppy at 10am for a wedding dress alterations. 

    Between 9 and 10, as it's not worth me starting to work on Lizzy's intricate back detailed dress, I work on my website, while listening the news on TV (dominated by the Brexit debates at the moment). At the moment I am trying to populate my shop with some of the accessories that I sell on Etsy. It is a little bit of an experiment to see whether I do get sales direct, or whether Etsy is the best source of online sale for me.

    10:00am: Poppy arrives with her mum, carrying her gorgeous long train dress delicately decorated with laces. She needs the dress taking in and the hems shorten. With 8 layers of fabrics at the hem, the appointment takes over 1 hour. Thankfully mum and daughter are happily chatting away during the fitting, and Poppy's stilettos are not too painful to stand in! I always think that it's lovely when brides come in with their maid of honour, sister, mum, grandma, best friend, or anyone else who can give their views and keep them company in the process. Also, as sometimes some of the alterations affect the back, it's always helpful to have someone you trust give their opinion on what's going on at the back from close up. 

    After the pair leaves, I write down all the client details and alterations required in my work book and in a sheet which goes in with the dress. At the moment I have 4 wedding dresses upstairs, so it would be a bit of a disaster if I mixed them up! Between them leaving and lunch time, again I find that it's not worth me pulling Lizzy's dress out, so I keep on updating the website, and make myself some lunch. 

    12:00pm: Lunch is a good opportunity to catch up on more news on TV (which I stop when my clients are in, or when I need to concentrate on writing something), and to check social media, which I do both for personal and business reasons. For work, I post or share a few things on Pinterest, and check out some groups on Facebook. On other days I might add a photo on Instagram or a post my Facebook page, but I have found that in the last year or so, I have been less active on social media as a business.

    01:20pm: I finally pull out Lizzy's dress, which requires some delicate work on the lace and net part of the gorgeous back. I spend a couple of hours working on this, with the odd breaks on my phone or tablet. I find out that one of the queries I had on Etsy is not leading to an order as the colours that I have in stock do not match the dress. (Last week I had sent small samples of fabrics to this lady, so that she could compare the material I have with her dress colours.) This is a shame, but as this would have resulted in a custom order made to a specific size, it is practically non-refundable, so I much prefer the client to take this approach than purchase and then be disappointed.

    2:50pm: I find that when I'm working, whether I am doing some work on a computer or physically making or altering something, time does go really fast. It almost feels like working between 9am to 3pm is not enough to do everything that needs to be done. I normally stop at 3pm to have a general tidy up, since I work from home, and get ready to pick up my daughter back from school.

    3:30pm: We are back from the school run and my daughter always has something to eat when she's back. We have a little natter then, and I often have a little snack with her too. Children often don't want to talk about their day at school when questioned. So I have learned to not specifically ask. I find that sometimes she'll just tell me things without prompting and I can probe more into it, more naturally, than if I try to question. I try to use the snack time to also cover her reading or spelling homework from school. Even though she's only 5, I find that there is always homework to do, even 5-10minutes at a time!

    For the rest of the day, I'm on and off checking emails and social media, responding where needed. Sometimes I have clients who come after school or after work, but generally I tend to limit these.

    5:50pm: Time to make dinner, and for today, nothing else is planned. Except the occasional email and social media check!

    This was a really tiny little insight on one of the day in the life of a designer / maker / dressmaker in Nantwich! Today will probably be quite a different day and tomorrow will be different too. As with most jobs, no two days are the same. The best thing that I love about my job (other than the ability to work flexibly around my family life), is that I get to meet so many interesting people. I find that everyone has a story, no matter how ordinary they think their life is, they almost always have interesting bits to talk about. For me, it is always lovely to hear these stories - they make me appreciate the variety and richness of life, and let's face it, most people love a good love story!


    Sharon is the designer and maker for Blue Lily Magnolia dresses and accessories, and also does alterations for wedding dresses, other formal dresses and even everyday clothes. She is based in Stapeley in Nantwich. For a quick chat, call 07766766573.

  3. 8 Valentines ideas for those who want more than roses, chocolates and dinner

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    best valentines ideas

    Roses and chocolate and a romantic date out or home made candle lit dinners in are nice, why not? But if you really want to make Valentine's day special, read on for some Valentine inspiration, and make it a day to remember!

    1) Get Away 
    Quite predictably, getting away should be one of the best ways to celebrate love. Why? Because the hustle and bustle of life often makes it difficult for us all to unwind at home, when there is a pile of laundry waiting and when the clutter of our lives removes any romance. Take a day or two off work and book into a hotel where you don't have to do anything except talk to each other, love each other and enjoy each other. 
    2) Enjoy a Spa Day 
    A bit of the same concept as getting away, take the day off and book yourselves for some treatments and a bit of pond-side chilling out with fluffy gowns. With many spa places offering treatments for couples, this is perfect if you both need to de-stress and unwind, and disconnect from work before you can feel human and loving again.
    3) Look Back at Memories 
    Create a little happy book or slide show of photos of your favourite moments together and cosy up to go through your happy memories with your choice of nibbles and tipple, and lots of cuddles too. Looking back at good times strengthens the bonds you have already established, and makes you feel all gooey and lovey, perfect for Valentine's day. If you have time to prep it up, go for it! 
    4) Breakfast in Style
    I am a little biased here because breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, but what better way to start the day on a positive note. The great thing is that potentially, if your fridge is already well stocked, this involves minimum planning. Make yourselves your favourite morning treat and enjoy it in bed, have lots of cuddles, and be late for work if you can manage it. Gifts in bed optional of course! 
    5) Have a Good Old Natter 
    About what, might you say? Certainly not about the chores that need to be done, or the issues with the kids. But it all comes back to carving out time for each other, and remembering the reasons why you fell in love with each other. So, pack the kids and the chores off, and open up, have a laugh, talk about the past, make happy dream plans. And cuddle a lot. 
    6) Get Active 
    Nothing better than releasing good endorphins together on Valentine's day, so for the adventure seeking ones of us, book yourself an activity session, something unusual, something you've never tried before and always wanted to have a go, or just something you love doing together. Brave the cold and go free climb that mountain or book that kayaking or outdoor climbing session you always dreamt of, and reward yourself with a warming treat at the end! Or if high adrenaline boosts are not your thing, wrap yourself warm and go on a long walk hand in hand and put your feet up afterwards in front of a warm fire. 
    7) Make Something Together 
    Creating something together is one of the best ways to strengthen a relationship, so if you don't do a lot of that, give it a go. Whether it is a simple meal, a fiddly dessert, a complex art work, a piece of furniture, Lego sets, build something together in a bit of team work, and you can enjoy the fruits of your labour together at the end. 
    8) Learn Something New Together 
    If you've always wanted to Tango like Anton and Erin, skate like Torvill and Dean, cook like Nigella, make your own pasta, chocolate, beer, wine, or whatever you fancy, book yourself on a course together. Learning something new while having fun at the same time is a fab way of keeping your relationship fresh, and giving you more things to talk about in the future or for 5) above. It doesn't have to be physically or technically challenging either. Wine tasting is an example of learning something new with minimal effort required!! 
    However you want to approach it, the best thing to remember is that making time for each other and for you two as a couple is probably better than just spending money without real thoughts behind. Of course everyone loves gifts and treats, but sometimes, something immaterial can have bigger value in the eyes of the receiver. With that in mind, no matter how you choose to celebrate or not to celebrate Valentine's day, hope you enjoyed this short read! 
    Blue Lily Magnolia designs and makes bridal accessories, including gifts for brides to be and grooms to be. Based in Nantwich, Cheshire, UK, every item is handmade and either in very limited edition or one of a kind. A bespoke service also gives you the opportunity to have something totally individual and unique for your big day - and for other big social events in your life. 
    Photo Credit: Mr G. C. Perfect Moments, via Photopin (License)