Friday, October 26, 2018

Meet The Designer Adding Her Own Modern Twist To Vintage Classics

If you're looking to get into the pinup lifestyle, you're going to have a circle skirt or two in your wardrobe. But some mainstream pinup fashion designers and be quite expensive and the quality of fabric can often be less-then.  I found a shop that's affordable and the owner hand makes the skirts herself! I spoke to Dawn. The owner of Rock Chic Fabric who spends most of her time with her husband, her three adult children, and her two grandchildren. But when she's not enjoying her time with them, she's off in her sewing room into the wee hours of the night adding her own unique and modern twist to her favorite Fashion classics.  To get to know a little more about her shop.

Can you tell us a little about your background and what inspired you to start designing? What inspired me to start designing...that's a good question. I think the first time I felt inspired to sew was on a visit to my grandmother's house when I was very young. We lived a long way away, so I didn't get to see her often but remember quite vividly one visit. She showed me a dolls house that she had made. It was full of furniture, in particular, I remember a bucket chair covered in mustard fabric. She explained to me that it had been made out of a washing up bottle. Then I noticed that the dolls were all beautifully turned out in clothes she had made. I was fascinated. I remember thinking how could someone know how to make all these beautiful things and I wanted to be able to do it too.

How to dress like a pinup girl, pinup shop, pinup skirts, vintage pinup wear, rock chic fabric
Shot by @terrymcphotography Model @vivalafrankie
Although I have often felt inspired to sew  I have never really thought of myself as a designer. To me, a designer is someone who comes up with something new, fresh and exciting. My work is inspired by what has already been designed. The circle skirt is not a new fashion. The floor length circle skirt was probably made back in the 1890s, the poodle skirt is attributed to Charlot and designed in 1947 and some of my favorite vintage designs come from the fashion house of Dior, but I think for all that I have no less of a place in the pinup world. Those of us who are inspired by the great designers are preservers if you like. Keeping a beautiful tradition alive in the minds and hearts of those that see our modern twists on absolute classics.

How did you start designing? My earliest memories of sewing myself were for my Sindy dolls. I used to try to copy the clothes I saw in old films. I had well-dressed dolls don't you know! Most of them had pretty poor hair though as I fancied myself as a bit of a hairdresser too and frazzled their hair with the hairdryer!!

How to dress like a pinup girl, pinup shop, pinup skirts, vintage pinup wear, rock chic fabric
Shot by @terrymcphotography model @gaelicgirl_
When I was in my 20s I booked a course of 6 sewing lessons and from then on I was hooked on sewing. My first sewing victim was my daughter Sophie. She can't stand frills now thanks to my early efforts!! At first, my sewing skills weren't really very good. I remember trying to make my daughter a vintage red coat, which ended up in the bin due to my frustration! Once I had improved though I loved the fact that I was able to make clothes that were unique and different for my daughter and she loved putting in her requests!

I very quickly became aware of the lack of pattern matching in 'off the peg clothes'. I felt that if I made it myself I could spend time making sure that seams were properly matched wherever possible. Even now my circle skirts are fully seam matched, something I don't seem to be able to stop doing despite the extra work and fabric involved.

How did you get into pinup fashion? I would love to be able to say that ever since I was a child I knew I wanted to make Pinup style fashion, but for me, it was a gradual realization. Growing up I always loved old films. Saturday afternoons were spent watching them in our house. I loved 50s films in particular. There was something absolutely captivating about the structure and shape of the clothes and how they made women look and walk. I mean just look at Grace Kelly's wardrobe in Rear Window!! I watch that film over and over even now just to drool over the designs! Those films stuck with me and looking back many of the clothes I made for my daughter were 1950s inspired.

How to dress like a pinup girl, pinup shop, pinup skirts, vintage pinup wear, rock chic fabric
Shot by @terrymcphotography
Models @vivalafrankie and @gaelicgirl_
Initially, I made children's clothes and sold these online, but the final piece of the puzzle fitted in to place when my daughter showed an interest in the 1950s style too. I made both dresses and skirts for her and I discovered that I absolutely loved making this style. They were always statemented pieces as my daughter has an eye for unusual fabrics. She assured me that a curtain fabric she had found would make a wonderful dress and despite my misgivings, I made the dress only to find that she was indeed correct!! It taught me to explore fabrics myself.

I discovered that I too gravitate towards unusual fabrics rather than traditional florals. Being creative for me has been like a butterfly coming out of its chrysalis because I never realized I was creative. When I was a child at school if you couldn't draw you weren't considered creative, but creativity takes so many different forms and I am happy to see that this is being encouraged more in society today. Before long I was making skirts for friends and friends of friends. I got asked once 'are you the lady who makes the sticky outskirts?!! Famous!!

How to dress like a pinup girl, pinup shop, pinup skirts, vintage pinup wear, rock chic fabric
Shot by @terrymcphotography model: @gaelicgirl_
Which skirt do you recommend buying the most? My most popular skirts are tartan/plaid. Tartan is a classic and I think it always will be. Anything with pockets too. Pockets sell skirts! I have some new designs coming up too so watch this space!

 pinup skirts, vintage pinup wear, how to dress like a pinup girl, pinup shop,
Shot by @terrymcphotography model @vivalafrankie
Of all the things you could design, Why did you choose skirts? I have a number of reasons for this, but at first, my decision was based on my own shopping experience. I find separates a better option for me as I am two different sizes top and bottom. I was sure that there were lots of other girls out there that were the same. Later when I research the 50s I found that skirts were extremely popular at the time. I still like to make them in a more traditional way with a side zip and button as they would have been in the 50s.

How to dress like a pinup girl, pinup shop, pinup skirts, vintage pinup wear, rock chic fabric
Shot by @terrymcphotography Model @vivalafrankie
Do you wear pinup up style fashion often? Yes, initially I was scared to wear the pinup style as I don't have a model figure, but with encouragement from my daughter, I tried it. I have to say from the moment I put on my first circle skirt I felt gorgeous and completely confident. I couldn't believe it, my walk even changed! I have since converted several friends who have also experienced this same phenomenon. Many women think that they are too big, too old, or the wrong shape for pinup and it's just not the case.  A circle skirt is one of the most flattering styles you can wear. Nearly everyone looks good in them, if you have no waist it gives you a waist. If you have curves even better!

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Shot by @terrymcphotography Model @vivalafrankie
Do you wear your own designs? I do! I have several in my wardrobe. Probably my favorite one has sewing machines all over it with 'born to sew' and other sewing related captions. I have numerous pairs of Rubyshoos to go with them too, lots of red in there as I love red! I haven't quite figured out what to do with my hair though, so if there is anyone out there who can give advice on pinup styles for thin hair that is stubbornly straight I am all ears!!

Click here to start shopping Rock Chic Fabric!
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