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blogger challenge

Retro / Vintage, Sewing & Craft

That Time I Made a Skirt From a Duvet Cover

This month I made a skirt out of a bedspread. I know exactly what you’re thinking…

The Sound of Music

But let me start by saying The Sound of Music is one of my favourite films of all times, so I’m more than happy to take inspiration from the inimitable Maria Von Trapp. There is no shame in home furnishings-turned-outfits.

So to the story behind the skirt. A couple of seasons ago Asda’s George Home started producing affordable bedding sets with pin-up girl prints on. There have been a few iterations, the most popular being a sailor print with stripes and anchors. They look nice enough on a bed (though you may struggle to persuade a boyfriend or husband of that) but a few clever sewists worked out that they’re also perfect for dresses and skirts, and buying these bedspreads for under £15 worked out much cheaper than buying similar fabrics from the likes of Alexander Henry. Thus #ThatsSewGeorge was created!

George bedding and handmade skirt

Recently, George has been challenging bloggers to make clothes, accessories and other exciting things out of their cute and affordable bedding sets. I’m already the proud owner of a palm tree printed duvet cover (see here!) which I think would make a killer maxi dress, but when George offered to send me some more bedding to work my sewing magic on, I had to go with those pin-up girls. I picked a print with a polka dot lining, threw one straight on my bed, then used the other to whip up a modified circle skirt.

Pin Up Skirt and Gingham Shirt

I thought a dress might be tricky with the large print so decided to do a skirt first. The pattern was a bit of a mish-mash. I used the skirt panels from the Gertie for Butterick dress I made a couple of years ago, as I didn’t want to lose all the detail in a gathered or pleated skirt. This did mean I had some tricky pattern matching to take into account: in the end I only worried about this on the front of the skirt so it’s not perfect, but it did mean I could easily get the whole thing out of one duvet cover. I made my own wide waistband from the polka dot fabric used on the underside of the duvet, and put in a hand-picked zip at the back. I still love a hand-picked zip, not just because it’s much easier to keep tidy, but also because I like to sew in front of the TV so the less I have to use the machine, the better.

Hand Made Pinup Skirt and Gingham Blouse

The skirt is a little see-through and could do with lining, but other than that, I’m really happy how it turned out. Since I’m an old lady I own a beige slip so I just popped that underneath for a bit of coverage. The gingham blouse is from Mango, and the very old sequinned shoes are from Kurt Geiger. I hope you like my finished look, now if only it would stop raining so I can take it outside!

Disclosure: The bedspreads were a gift from George to allow me to get creative.

Ways To Wear

Fabulously Festive – the belated Ways To Wear Challenge results

Apologies to all for the delay in putting up December’s Ways To Wear Challenge results…but hopefully it’s a case of better late than never! When moving the sites I encountered a bit of a problem with the uploading functionality for images which caused part of the delay (coupled with the actual move). Everything is now fixed and all traffic from the old URL should be redirecting here, so we’re back up and running. As we’re already more than halfway through the month there won’t be a January challenge, but there will be an extra special one in February which I think you’ll all enjoy!

Now, onto the participants for December. It’s always a busy month and I was missing for most of it, so I really appreciate the fact there were still plenty of entries. The challenge was ‘fabulously festive’, which was a wide enough brief that we have lots of really different takes on the theme. There was plenty of sparkle, a bit of brocade, some bold blue and loads of lace. Here are all the outfits. If I’ve missed you, do let me know so I can add your outfit – I was scrabbling around a bit to find all the entries but I hope I’ve got them all!

Noelle of Tilly’s Notions


Malene of Piece Of My Mind


Hanna of The Wardrobe Challenge


Jocelyn of Fat, Fashionable & Feminist


Becky of Does My Blog Make Me Look Fat?


Stefi of She’s Electric


Tempest of Ellomennopee


And, of course, me!


This was my office Christmas party outfit, and I forgot to take my proper camera so apologies for the bad quality phone pic. I wore a Carmen Marc Valvo dress that I picked up in Neiman Marcus Last Call on my last trip to Vegas. This is probably my best outlet bargain ever. The retail price was $550, but I think with all the discounts it ended up costing me about $80! The brocade fabric is really lovely and heavy and the fit is so good it could almost be custom-made. No need to add my usual belt to make the waist fit. It has a voluminous tulip skirt, and black jewels all around the neck for a bit of bling. The finished look is very 60s, so I had to go for a beehive in my hair to match! I added cheap costume jewellery earrings from Primark, and my red jewelled t-bar shoes are Poetic Licence from TK Maxx.

Thanks to everyone for taking part in this challenge – I promise for Feb we’ll be back on schedule!

Ways To Wear

The Ways To Wear Challenge #2 – Fabulously Festive

It’s time for the second Ways To Wear challenge – sorry it’s late [insert illness, dentistry, various other excuses here] but hopefully you’re all still up for the challenge!

But first up, I need to announce the winners of the first challenge! Congrats to our top three: Tempest (1st), Noelle (2nd) and Mrs Bebe (3rd) who got the most number of votes in the poll. Ladies, I’ll be in touch about posting out some treats to you, but if you see this before I get round to emailing, please drop me a line with your postal address!

Now, onto the December challenge. As I’m late in setting the challenge (and also because you may well wish to submit something worn at Christmas) I’ll be extending the entry time just this once. You have until 30th December to send in your pictures, and I’ll do a round-up in the first few days of the new year.

The challenge could only really be one thing, couldn’t it? The theme is…


How you choose to define that is totally up to you. It could be a reindeer onesie, it could be your fave party dress (like me above, in a pic from last year), it might be something red and green, something sparkly, something warm and cosy…or perhaps it’s just something that you love wearing in December. The point is to get into the festive spirit, and tell everyone a bit about what and how you celebrate at this time of year.

As always taking part in the challenge is as simple as blogging your Fabulously Festive outfit and letting me know you’ve done it (by email, tweet or carrier pigeon). Obviously I’d also love it if you could link to this post or the Ways To Wear category so other people can find out about the challenge. After the closing date I’ll bring all the entries together and show the world your amazing outfits. There may be some prizes for the best, but really it’s just for fun, and a way of giving anyone with blogger block a bit of inspirations.

For more on the idea behind the Ways To Wear challenge, click here.

Ways To Wear

The Ways To Wear Challenge #1 – The Little Black Dress

I’m so happy about the number of people who showed an interest in the Ways To Wear Challenge, and I can’t wait to get started on the first outfit challenge.

As this is challenge number one and we’re all finding our feet, I wanted to keep it really simple and easy, so this month’s challenge is a very obvious one. But that doesn’t mean you have to be boring with your outfits – as it’s such a classic item, it leaves all kinds of great opportunities to accessorise and add other clothes.

This months Ways To Wear Challenge is…



I hope most of you have some form of black dress in your wardrobe so this doesn’t have to cost a lot to take part in. But if you don’t have a LBD yet, at the bottom of this post are a few options you might want to try in order to take part (from £5!). The dress doesn’t have to be COMPLETELY black – maybe it has a trim, or some embellishment, or is a textured fabric like lace or jacquard – this is fine, but black must be the main colour. Add your own spin by way of shoes, jewellery, knitwear, jackets, bags and so on, and submit your picture to the challenge!

How to submit your outfit:

– Take pictures: please include your face and DON’T take a photo in the mirror – proper snaps please!
– Write a blog post talking about the look and the clothes you chose including a link back to this post so others can take part. If you don’t have a blog but still want to submit a pic, email or tweet me and we’ll talk!
– Submit the link to me by 20th November at the latest either by email, tweet or just by posting a comment below with the link.

You can show your support for the challenge by adding this button to your blog sidebar. Just copy the code in the box below and paste it wherever you’d like the button to show up. It links to the ‘Ways To Wear’ category here on BGB so will always show the most up to date posts.



At the end of the month, I will post ALL the challenge looks, with links and photos, here on BGB so everyone can see the amazing looks the Ways To Wear Community have put together. There will be some special prizes for this month’s challenge – I’ve got MAC makeup, soem gorgeous perfume and a few other treats stashed away for the best entries.

Remember, this challenge is all about having fun, showing your style and proving that one look can be worn a multitude of different ways depending on your personal style. For full details of the concept behind the challenge, click here for the original post

Stuck for inspiration? Here are some fab LBD’s I found online in loads of sizes, starting at only a fiver!

Boucle dress with collar (sizes 8 – 20) £18 George
Black sequin neckline belted dress (sizes 16 – 32) £40 Yours Clothing
Velvet dress with spot mesh trim (sizes 10 – 22) £65 Long Tall Sally
Love Label scuba belted sress (sizes 8 – 18) £25 Very
Jocelyn lace dress (sizes 8 – 14) £14.99 Prodigy Red
Lace cowl neck layer dress (S-M / M-L only) £5 Everything 5 Pounds
AX Paris studded cuff tunic dress (sizes 14 – 32) £35 Simply Be

Ways To Wear

Join me in the Ways To Wear blogger outfit challenge

There’s nothing like seeing other people trying out a trend or testing a hard-to-wear item in real life to inspire us, and seeing the many bloggers I love doing outfit of the day posts and taking part in blogger challenges has spurred me on to set up something new here at Big Girls Browse. I thought it was time I started my own outfit challenge!

So I’m happy to introduce The Ways To Wear Challenge!

Originally, I intended to keep this small and just get together seven or eight bloggers who’d join me in a monthly challenge. But the more I thought about it, and the more people showed an interest on Twitter, the more I thought it made more sense to make this a completely open, inclusive challenge for anyone who wants to take part.

Each month, I (or another challenger or sponsor) will set an outfit theme. It could be based on a trend, a silhouette, a specific piece of clothing, a celeb or pop culture inspiration, a type of event or anything else timely and interesting. It might be strict (eg. ‘red pussy bow blouse’ but it’s more likely to be a very wide brief so it’s easy to do with what you already have ‘eg. ‘dresses with sleeves’). Your job is to create an outfit post based around that theme. You’ll need to wear the look – you can’t just do a collage of the items. You can be as creative as you like so long as you stick to the brief (so if it’s ‘Winter coats’, you do need to be wearing a coat). The most important thing is that you post pictures of you wearing the outfit, and you tell us what you’re wearing.

What you need to take part:

– A blog
– A camera
– Clothes & accessories
– An imagination!

It’s as simple as that. This is a completely open challenge. I don’t care if you get 1 hit or 10,000 hits a day to your blog. I don’t care if your photos are taken with your phone or the best DSLR in the world (though they should be clear and a decent size, and not taken facing a mirror). I don’t care what you look like, how old you are, where you live, what your dress size is or how ‘fashion forward’ you are. As far as I’m concerned, the more diverse this challenge is, the better! The way I style an outfit is going to be completely different to how many of you would, and that’s the joy of it! I want to see just how many ways a look or trend can be made to work for different people.

If you’d like to be part of the Ways To Wear community all you need to do is get involved. I will pull together all the challenges each month and share the links here on BGB. I obviously encourage everyone taking part to link to other challengers, get to know each other, comment on each others blogs and support the group as well, so we can really share the love.

The timeline:

– Challenges will be set by the 5th of the month here on Big Girls Browse.
– You have until 20th of the month to take your pics and post them on your blog, then send the link to me.
– Before the end of the month, I will collate all the posts and share them here.

What if I can’t do / don’t want to do a challenge?

That’s fine! Obviously I’d love everyone to do everything but I know sometimes the challenge won’t work for some people. Perhaps you don’t have the right stuff in your wardrobe to make it work. Maybe a specific look just isn’t your style or doesn’t work for your body shape. Perhaps you’re on holiday – it’s fine, you take part only when you want to.

What about sponsored challenges?

As the challenge grows, I’m hoping I’ll be able to get some exciting brands to collaborate and offer up products to use in the challenges, or prizes for their favourite looks. When and if this happens, I’ll probably have to change the rules slightly. Obviously when sponsors are involved there may be limitations regarding size and availability of product, so not everyone will be able to take part every time. I will try my best to include as many people as I can, but I will always prioritise those bloggers who take part every month and really get involved. As and when these kind of opportunities arise, I’ll contact people individually.

Interested in taking part? Leave a comment below to let me know, keep an eye on Twitter (@GemmaCartwright) and visit this site at the beginning of November for the very first challenge!

(If you work for a brand and would like to know more about sponsoring a challenge, drop me a line –

DD+, Dresses, Tried & Tested

Tried & Tested: The Pepperberry Summer Clothing Challenge

Yep, I’ve been back to Pepperberry, purveyors of clothes for ladies with boobs. This time I was invited to take part in their Bloggers’ Summer Clothing Challenge. Basically, I got to choose an event and Pepperberry would dress me for it! I was sent down to the Oxford Circus store in June, where a set of frocks had been picked out for me to try on. I then picked my favourite and styled it up for the event in question. I chose a picnic with friends for my birthday, though I ended up swapping that for an afternoon in the pub (I didn’t trust the weather). I had planned to wear the dress on the day, but it ended up being a bit too restrictive. The moral of the story? Don’t pick a super-fitted dress with a synthetic lining, then put on 5lbs and expect it to still fit on one of the hottest days of the year…

The service at Pepperberry was, as always, great. I can’t really fault the Bravissimo / Pepperberry team. They’re friendly, knowledgeable and really love what they do. They also fitted me for a new bra while I was trying my dresses and I, of course, ended up buying it. I love the friendly atmosphere in store and the fact that if something isn’t in stock in your size, you can order it there and then and get it delivered to your home for free. As there are only a few stores around the country, it takes the stress out of going all the way there only to find your size is not in stock.

I just want to show you the pics from the day I tried the dress, to confirm that that they don’t allow women to walk out in dresses that are clearly a bit on the tight side! In fact there was a lot of attention paid to getting exactly the right fit. On the day the frock was the perfect fit, but it’s amazing what only a few pounds will do to my hips and tum, and now it doesn’t look half as nice as it did back then and has a bit of a tendency to ride up and crinkle. This realisation has forced me back onto the exercise regime that’s been sorely lacking in the last month, and I’m just beginning the hilarious ‘Bootcamp for Tummies’ challenge via work, so hopefully that’ll help too. I really would like to be able to wear this dress properly before the Summer is out!

I tried three dresses in total. The black one above (the ‘hepburn’ £59) I really liked but it’s very similar to other 50s dresses I own, and this was a Summer challenge and I felt the black was a bit dark and safe. The other dress I tried was a purple jewelled shift (£69). It was very pretty and fit me well, but the dress was just not my style at all. My boho days are over and I wore so many similar dresses as a teenager that now they just seem a bit outdated to me!

So I went a bit mad and picked the dress I wouldn’t normally go for, featuring colour I never wear – yellow. You can see from the pics how pale my legs are, and I always think of yellow as a colour that goes with a tan, but I think I can just about get away with this. It’s a close call, but with this challenge I wanted to come out of my comfort zone a bit and try something new. I know the print won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but if there’s one thing I love it’s a mad, mad print!

The good news for you lot is that this review’s taken me so long to do, that the dress is now in the sale, for £39. I will warn you though, it is quite a shiny fabric that will ride up, so if in doubt, go a dress size up. There’s quite a lot of detail across the front, with contrast seams that can pull if it gets tight (as you can see!) so beware your sizing and get the right cup size too. The cups come up relatively small on this (I’m wearing a ‘curvy’ but I tried the ‘really curvy’ too and very nearly got that one. It was a close call).

Oh, and I know you noticed the shoes. Aren’t they amazing? They’re the ASOS Powertrip heels, now down to ridonkulous £18. I insist you buy them! They’re surprisingly comfy for such high heels.

Disclosure: Pepperberry let me keep the dress as a gift. However, I was not paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.