Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31st

I'm up in Lincolnshire for New Year, and we went up to Clumber Park, for a walk around this country estate. It was a lovely place for a wander, really, at this time of year all mists and mellow fruitfulness. Plus a lovely tea shop. And on the way back we listened to Johnny Cash.

You'll notice that when I get something new, I tend to wear it a lot, as is the case with the red needlecord pinafore dress I made just before Christmas. I've paired it with my tie-neck blouse under, a blazer over, and worn it with a variety of cardigans. I'm becoming a big fan of red with powder blue - it's a somewhat unexpected but pleasing colour combination.

Dress, made by me; 1950s blouse, from a vintage shop in Midhurst; 1950s wool cardigan, estate; Jingly reindeer brooch and bakelite bangles, etsy; Beret, Accessorize; Gloves, gift from Joanna.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Boxing Day

The set for today's outfit pics is provided by my cousin's daughters' playhouse, isn't it adorable? They're six and seven years old and oh-so angelic.
This is the red cardigan I bought in Winchester recently, after a year of searching. I wear it all the time, though this is the first time it's made it into an outfit post. I love red with green, but Christmas is the only time of year you can really get away with it!

I'm in such dire need of a haircut. I can't do a thing with it any more - it's simply too long for victory rolls. I must book myself in with Nina's. I also desperately want a set of hot sticks (actually two sets, since one isn't enough for my super-thick hair).
My collection of vintage plastic jewellery is slowly expanding - this brooch is courtesy of my Mummy. I'm not sure which early plastic it's made from - definitely not bakelite, and it doesn't say celluloid to me either. It is hand carved though, not moulded. I'm also not sure what it's meant to be, but I decided in the end to call it pinecones, to be seasonally appropriate.

Rose hairclips, H&M; Lovebirds necklace, gift from Matin; 1950s plastic rosebud bead necklace, Car boot sale; Earrings, made by me with vintage celluloid cabochons; Cashmere cardigan, Hobbs; Dress, Charity shop (originally from Next); Carved early plastic Deco brooch, gift from Mummy; Bakelite bangles, ebay; Red back seam tights, ebay; Shoes, M&S.

Christmas Dress

The sparkly bird was such a hit on Christmas eve that it made a reappearance for the day.

I'm so very pleased with my Christmas dress - I made it myself from a vintage pattern, in bright red 100% cotton needlecord. I used Butterick 7432, but I didn't like the V-neckline so I drafted my own sweetheart neckline. I also made it slightly smaller than the pattern because despite it being a 34" bust pattern, when I made the muslin the fabric was a bit loose around the neckline, due to my sticky-out decolletage. I think I have to learn more about darts, as I think an extra dart from the armholes may be something to experiment with in future projects to deal with this problem. Does anyone else have experience sewing for large breasts?

Anyway, I took a little out of the centre in an attempt to minimise the problem, but I think I should have added extra at the sides to make up for it since I ended up with very mean seams. But all in all I'm delighted with how it turned out - the nipped-in waist fits me perfectly (though there was a moment during construction when I thought I wasn't going to be able to eat anything all Christmas!), and there's enough fulness at the hips. I even managed a lapped side zipper, which I'm terribly proud of.

I'd definitely use this pattern again (with the amended neckline) - it works great in the needlecord as a jumper dress for winter, and I think it'll be worth trying in a printed cotton as a summer dress too.

I was hoping to find a super thin cashmere sweater to wear underneath my dress, but apparently they don't exist, so I ended up pairing it with this 1950s Marks & Spencer nylon blouse, which has sweet embroidery detail on the collar and sleeves. I bought it a few months back but this is the first I've worn it. It's the tartan belt's first outing too - it's been languishing in my accessories drawer because it was a couple of inches too large. I made a hole (note: I advise against using seam rippers to make holes in belts) and chopped the excess off the end.

Dress, made by me from a 1950s pattern; 1950s nylon blouse, Vintage shop in Midhurst; 1930s Deco marcasite brooch, gift from Mummy; Bow earrings, purchased in Thailand; Bakelite bangle, Better In Time; Bead bracelets, Primark; Belt, Charity shop; Fairisle tights, Accessorize; Shoes, M&S.

Christmas Eve

I got well into the festive spirit with a red sparkly bird on my head and an ultra kitsch 1950s jingly reindeer brooch. The bird "hat" is actually an inexpensive feather fascinator that I've worn before coupled with a Christmas tree decoration.

I travelled up to cousin's in London (the sparkly bird went down a treat with his two little girls).

We attended the evening carol service at All Saints Church, which I thoroughly enjoyed - it's been years since I've been to a carol service.

1940s jacket, vintage shop in Totnes; Reindeer brooch, La Vignette; Sparkly bird, gift from a friend; Feather fascinator, purchased in Thailand; Bow blouse, Charity shop.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Feedsack Fabric Repro: Ironing

Another vintage feedsack repro - 1930s/40s? This print is actually related to one of my early fabric repros, Wash Day - there's a whole series of girls doing domestic chores; I've got sewing and sweeping still to do.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot that I hadn't quite perfected the seamless repeat before doing this "digi-swatch", but rest assured that it's sorted now. I've just got to finalise the colours, then it'll be available through my Spoonflower with the rest.

I'm open to requests, by the way - if you have a fabulous vintage print in your collection you'd like to see repro'd (particularly handy if you're only hanging onto that dress for the print, even though it doesn't really fit!) do get in touch. (Bear in mind only certain types of print are suitable for me to repro - it has to consist of solid colour blocks and lines, rather than swishy brushstrokes)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ice Princess

Yes, my week's outfits have all been very similar (a result of living out of a suitcase for the week, which in itself is an exercise in perfecting a capsule wardrobe), but I wanted to show another variation on the duck-egg blue and pink colour theme. And my sweet vintage glass chandelier necklace (another attic find).

Skirt, Vintage Critter; Cardigan, New Look; Camisole, Marks & Spencer; Boots, Clarks; Gloves, can't remember - probably ebay; Lucite bangle, Primark; Glass necklaces & Poodle brooch, Mummy's attic; Beret, Charity shop.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The 1941 Jumper

I'm very excited to see the 1941 Knitting Pattern I posted early this year knitted up, and it looks great! You can also find it on Ravelry.

It's patterns like this from my vintage magazines that have inspired me to take up knitting, and I've been pestering my sister to teach me how. We've now got as far as picking out what looks like a beginner-friendly pattern - no easy task, since most of the knitting patterns from my 1940s magazines incorporate fancy details; it's surprisingly hard to find a simple, plain pattern (same goes for sewing patterns). So watch this space - and wish me luck!

Winter Wonderland

More snow! And an almost identical outfit to the one I wore the other day, but I'm still experimenting with colour schemes.

I've also raided the Chamber of Secrets (a.k.a. Mummy's attic) for vintage jewellery, and pulled out some darling marcasite brooches including this 1950s poodle!

Make Do & Mend Jewellery

Love this sewing necklace and "Make Do & Mend" charm bracelet from Accessorize.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cowboy Feedsack Fabric - and a Contest!

Here's the latest - a super cute 40s/50s cowboys vintage feedsack print (I've seen this in two different colourways - might try the other one too). This is another design that's been on my to-do list for a while, but I've been putting it off because of all those fiddly dots (yes, they took ages). I love how it's come out - I'm so looking forward to grouping all these fabrics in a simple patchwork quilt.

Anyway, on to the contest... As I mentioned previously, I'm pretty rubbish at coming up with catchy names for my fabric repros, so I'm opening up the challenge. Come up with a name I love for any of my fabrics (especially the Deco Sprays design I posted the other day), and if I choose your suggestion I'll credit you in the description, and I'll also send you a Spoonflower fabric swatch.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Make Do and Mend for November & December

As I was out of blogland for most of November I missed November's instalment of Make Do & Mend features, so this month we've got a double!

This first is from November 1943 - and comes with another colour scheme idea involving duck-egg (or robin's egg or Tiffany) blue.

November 1945 - the war was not long over, and the ladies of England were looking to the smart set in New York for inspiration. I love these ideas for accessorizing, especially the make-do and mend chokers made of ribbon and old broken necklaces, and the sequinned Alice band. I'll reserve judgement on the hat made of sequin waste.

November 1947 brings ideas for dressing up a plain outfit with accessories and accent touches made with ribbon. I especially like the little ribbon rosettes on a pair of gloves, and the fancy buttonhole embellishment in fancy embroidered ribbon. I keep meaning to put into practice some of the suggestions from these posts, but then forget! Must start making a proper note to incorporate some of these ideas into outfits.

"To discard clothes that are not completely worn out is unpatriotic", the board of trade tells us in December 1942:

This last one's actually from a spring edition of Leach-Way Fashions, (no. 191 Frocks, Coats and Renovations, c1943), but since I'm currently working on the muslin for a 1950s jumper dress I thought I'd include it all the same. This is true make-do and mend mentality, presenting ways to remake old clothes into new.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pastel Pink & Duck-Egg Blue

So after challenging myself to break out of my black-and-red comfort zone, I have become the queen of pastels. I bought this cardigan the other day. It's acrylic, but we won't hold that against it. It's just the right length, it has a cute cableknit design, and I love the soft duck-egg blue colour (it'll go beautifully with chocolate brown).

Another "vintage" outfit of indeterminate era. I suppose I could call it thirties - the skirt is straight and below-knee, and the layered knitwear and tam beret could probably pass for thirties style. But really, there's no need to label it - I think one can still be considered vintage even if you can't pin a look down to a specific era. In fact I think I've blogged about this before, but I'll say it again: Part of the fun of dressing vintage is being able to mix and match articles and styles across the decades. And besides, it's fun to use your imagination and creativity to put together a style that's uniquely your own, rather than copying a specific era, isn't it? In fact the fashion mash-up mix is my new favourite thing. Though having said that I'll certainly grant that there's a great deal of satisfaction in creating a picture-perfect 30s/40s/50s look every so often.

As you may have spotted, this is my all-time favourite skirt. Because it's a very subtle grey/tan plaid it goes with every colour - black, brown, navy, brights or pastels - and it can be smart or casual. Plus I can use it in any vintage look from thirties to fifties (or 'indeterminate era').

Wool beret, charity shop; Pink sweater, Vintage fashion fair; Cardigan, New Look (yes, I bought something new, from a real shop); Boots, Clarks.

This is my Mummy's house - it's so much more picturesque than ours! I'm here for the week because Matin's away in foreign parts visiting his family. Which is also why I've had so much time to work on fabric repros (not that he's demanding, you understand, just that he sometimes prefers to spend time with me than sit and watch me vectorize cowboys).

If, by the way, you like my pink and blue colour scheme, you may appreciate this astonishingly beautiful pastel Christmas sweet feast.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Deco Sprays Fabric

Two fabric repros in two days? Well they are both quickie designs that didn't require days of drawing. And I've just learned a new technique for creating the seamless repeats, much less cumbersome than the method I've been using so far, so this second one came together pretty quickly.

This is based on a 1930s (?) novelty feedsack fabric and it's been in my "to repro" list for some time. I've seen it in a couple of different colourways - this is the burgundy and coral pink (it shows up purple and pink on my monitor, but I've used Spoonflower's colour guide swatch to pick the print colours - I'm very careful now, ever since my Deco Fans design came out fluorescent orange!).

Like all my other repro prints, this one will soon be available to purchase through my Spoonflower, once I have ordered a sample swatch to verify the colours.

Incidentally, I'm planning a little contest to come up with catchy names for some of my fabrics, so look out for that soon too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hats Fabric

When I saw this novelty hat print dress on etsy I fell in love with the adorable fabric, but the dress was way out of both my price and size range. So what's a girl to do? Repro it of course! I've named it "Hattie" (imaginative, I know), and it'll be available through Spoonflower soon (I just have to order a sample print to check how the colours come up). I can't wait to have a dress in this print!

New Look

As I haven't redesigned my blog since I started it, over a year ago, I felt it was long overdue for a makeover. I'm rather pleased with it. What do you think?

The secretary graphics came from Allerleirau's flickr (which includes an amazing collection of midcentury illustration).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Peachy Keen

It's not a terribly thrilling outfit post I'm afraid, but it is quite representative of the way I dress most days. I do feel sometimes (as I mentioned in my last post, I believe) like I'm getting stuck in a style rut, so I'm trying to break out of it by making more effort to accessorize. And wearing more pink. I'm in love with this little feather cocktail hat - I got it on ebay in a lot of TLC hats and whimsies, but it's actually in perfectly fine condition. I particularly like this slightly peachy shade of pink, matching the cardigan and the lucite bangle.

Polka dot cardigan (ain't it cute?), Primark; Lucite bangle and faux pearl bracelet (these are so fun, but I didn't get any decent close-ups of them), Primark; 1950s plastic Scottie dog pin, car boot sale; 1950s feather cocktail hat, ebay; Skirt, hand-me-up from my sister.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

1940s Princess Coat

Yes, I'm attempting to get back to blogging regularly again! I've been working so jolly hard these last few weeks (to make up for months of slacking - I'm not going to pretend I'm in any way hard done by!) that I've been seriously lacking in personal/creativity time. Now that I've replenished the coffers, I hope to be able to strike a balance between work and fun stuff, and hopefully be able to start tackling my immense list of project ideas.

Of course, one benefit of working on ebay all day is that it does give me the opportunity to bag the odd bargain. This coat was a recent find, and though it's not in perfect condition (the lining is quite damaged, and there are two buttons missing), it was still a bit of a steal at £40. I love the nipped waist and square 40s shoulders. There's also velvet detailing on the collar and around the hem. I've picked out some black bakelite Deco buttons on Etsy to replace the current ones (you've no idea how hard it is to find a matching set of 7 one-inch black buttons!).

I'm also pushing the envelope a bit by wearing pastels. I wear red and black so often I feel like I'm stuck in a red and black rut, even though I love wearing other colours. So, although you can't see it as I didn't take the coat off for any pictures, I'm wearing a 1930s (possibly) pink sweater and my baby blue cardigan - which was why I chose this baby blue plastic brooch, even though no-one would actually see the reasoning behind it!

1940s hat (which you may remember from last winter) and coat, ebay; Sweater, vintage fashion fair; 1950s gloves, can't remember; 1950s plastic brooch, car boot sale.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New and Coming Soon

I've got lots more great stuff listed in my ebay and etsy shops this week! Clockwise from top left: 1940s indigo lace tea dress with glass buttons and deco detailing; 1960s dolly mini dress; 1980s-does-30s peplum day dress; 1950s chevron stripe party dress; 1980s-does-40s tiki sarong dress; 1960s Victoriana mini dress.

1950s Chinese Fabric

Mummy picked up a vintage handmade quilt recently. The patchwork and quilting were unspectacular, but it was made up in early 50s dress fabrics, some of which were in the most darling novelty prints. I picked out this (rather non politically-correct!) design of little Chinese people, lanterns and characters to repro. It was a lot of work but I really like how it's turned out. It'll be available through Spoonflower soon - I can't wait to make a fun dress or circle skirt up in it!

The quilt actually gave me an idea to make up a simple patchwork quilt myself, using all the fabrics I've repro'd, plus a few original vintage fabrics. I think that would be fun.

Monday, December 6, 2010


It doesn't generally snow that much in the UK - especially on the south coast - but we had several inches here last week. Other parts of the country have up to 2 feet! Ours is all gone now sadly.

I've been wearing this vintage 1940s fur jacket a lot lately - I know it's controversial, but although I would certainly never wear new fur, my view is that it might as well be used and loved rather than go to landfill. Besides, it's sooo warm! I've had a few fur coats listed in my ebay shop this week, but I'm not selling this one - I just love the shape.

Beret, Accessorize; Fur coat, vintage 1940s; Skirt and tights, M&S; Scarf, gift; Boots, Clarks.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

1940s vs 1990s

Check me out with my 1940s vs 1990s vintage mash-up! Does it still count as vintage when you wore it the first time round? I'm referring of course to the Clueless-influenced craze for mini kilts in the late 90s. I pretty much figure that if it's an era-specific fashion, it counts.

Matin had a seminar in Winchester yesterday so I tagged along and took the afternoon shopping. The charity shops didn't turn up a single thing (well they had some vaguely interesting vintage, but all priced really high. Hate the way charity shops do that now! Even 1980s polyester is around £15!) My second-ever visit to Primark was very exciting - it's sooo cheap! They've got some nice accessories, and I also got a pink polka dot cotton knit cardigan which I'm very pleased with. But the best purchase of the day was probably the Red Cardigan that I've been searching for for over a year!

Outfit details: Skirt, blouse & handbag, charity shop; 1950s wool cardigan, estate; 1940s beret, Tasty Vintage (at Vintage at Goodwood); Shoes, Hotter.

PS Sorry again for my excessive absenteeism this month - perfectly disgraceful, I know.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New and Coming Soon

I'm listing still more fabulous clothes in my ebay shop and etsy store, including some more from my own wardrobe.

Clockwise from top left: 1960s-70s Check outfit; 1940s aubergine crepe de chine tea dress; 1930s-40s Art Deco jacket; 1970s cherry print jacket/top; 1950s-60s mint brocade evening jacket; Early 60s pink atomic print shift dress.

It's not just clothes either - there's accessories too, including a whole lot of unusual vintage gloves I'm selling from my collection! I've got embroidered, embellished, polka dot nylon and suede gloves in lots of different colours. Most in small sizes (unfortunately). I'll be listing them on ebay over the next week or so, but if you want to beat the bidding and snap up any of these in advance, please contact me.

Clockwise from top left: Rose embellished nylon gloves (M); Cherry embroidered nylon gloves (S); Polka dot net gloves (M but short fingers); Polka dot gloves (S); Embroidered sheer pink nylon gloves (S); Gemstone studded pink leather gloves (S).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pirate Dress

This was my Halloween dress! Isn't the pirate fabric fun? I've had it in my stash since I got back from my last trip to Thailand. I didn't have enough for a full dress, so I made the bodice in black (I think it works better this way anyway). I haven't finished the sleeve openings - I was going to finish them with bias binding, but then I had an idea to make winged cuffs in the pirate fabric.

Does anyone else have a geeky way of organising their sewing plans? This collage wasn't even intended for public viewing - this is just my project reference!

I used Simplicity 2491, which I bought after a long search for a plain 50s sundress pattern - you'd be amazed how hard it is to find a super simple, cap-sleeve, full-skirted sundress pattern. It was very easy to work with (helps that it's in my actual size, so I didn't need to adjust the bust/waist ratio. At least in theory - there are one or two adjustments I'll try and make the next time I use it - which I fully intend to). I like that rather than have a fully gathered skirt, the front is pleated and lays flat rather than adding bulk to the tummy area.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

All dressed up for a rainy day indoors

I haven't even left the house today. It's pouring with rain and freezing. But I did my hair up for my shop photography session today. I'm experimenting with a sort of "faux victory roll" style - my hair is now far too long for victory rolls so rather than attempt to coil it all up I've just looped-the-loop, pinned in place and taken the tails underneath and through into the bun at the back. That's not a very good description, I know - if I manage to perfect this style I'll try and post a tutorial sometime.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Atomic Embroidery Motif

Just thought I'd share this sweet atomic-influenced embroidery motif from a 1957 copy of Home Notes magazine. I love the "gay fashion ideas" for its use!

The "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" Project

Please excuse my extended absence - I've been a busy busy bee working hard on my ebay shop. I haven't been able to spare the time to blog or sew, but I have been dreaming up new ideas!

I've mentioned my love for the movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" before - it's my all-time favourite film, and now the inspiration for a new personal project. When I've finished the pirate dress and 1950s jumper dress I'm currently working on (along with various alterations and mends on items for my store), I'm planning to make a series of outfits inspired by the costumes from the film. I got the idea from Sense & Sensibility's Titanic Project, but I won't be aiming to create actual replicas of the costumes (mostly for pratical purposes, since there's only so many occasions in life which call for a floor-length, split-to-the-thigh red sequin gown), rather make my own interpretations of the outfits.


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