Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer Fashions c1934

Can you tell I've had a scanning session? Leach-Way Summer Fashions pattern catalogue, circa early-mid 30s (and yes, it still has the free patterns illustrated on the cover!).

Above: 1930s perennials - polka dots and frilly caplet sleeves. Below: I love all the different neckline and collar details. And I'll take the hat, second from right.

This era was especially big on bows - extravagant bows on sailor collars, winged bow sleevelets, a bow-fronted playsuit (this may look familiar, as it was featured earlier this month in my 1930s beachwear post, along with the halterneck playsuit on the facing page)

Going to the beach? Don't forget your bobble hat! I love the halter style neckline - and the circle print - on the dress second from right.

Decorating with Vintage Luggage


I accidentally bought myself another two vintage suitcases at the boot fair on Saturday. In my defence they're only tiny - and I do plan on selling some of the ones I already have. I just love the look of vintage luggage - it's such an easy way to add vintage chic to one's home, not to mention useful storage! A simple pile of suitcases (bonus points for old luggage labels still attached) can make great hallway storage or a bedside table; a trunk becomes a coffee table; assembled vanity cases and hatboxes make a super display; or attach legs and you've got a console table. And you have somewhere to put all the stuff you couldn't possibly throw out, but don't necessarily want on display - photos, miscellaneous memorabilia, ephemera, magazines, sewing or craft supplies...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Eveningwear c1930

Leach's Home Dressmaker no. 170

Friday, May 28, 2010

1930s Film Wallets

A small collection of film wallets I picked up at a car boot sale...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New and Coming Soon

Had a huge photo session yesterday - here's just a small selection of the goodies that will be going into my etsy shop over the next week. Clockwise from top left: 1950s-60s bolero cardigan / bed jacket (I have a few of these); Early 90s princess dress; 1940s style afternoon dress; 1960s jersey little black wiggle dress; Gorgeous 1950s cocktail dress (so sad it doesn't fit me!); 1940s style Art Deco tea dress... and lots more!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sponsored Walk

As I mentioned before, I am planning to participate in a 40 mile charity walk for Action Medical Research. Our second training walk - 22 miles - was on Sunday.

The weather was beautiful (people who aren't from the UK may feel I go on about sunshine a lot, but remember that this is Britain, and it does tend to live up to its repuation regarding the weather, so every sunshiney day is like a gift!). But I'm telling you, walking 22 miles is hard. The first ten miles were fine. But at 11 miles my shoes were starting to pinch. At 14 I started to get blisters. By 16 I was struggling to keep up the pace of 3mph. Long story short, by 22 miles I could barely walk! I'm still limping today (I pulled something in my knee, I think).

So please, make this worthwhile - please sponsor our team, the Halcrow Wanderers (Halcrow is Matin's work).

Action Medical Research relies entirely on donations to fund a range of research projects that address serious childhood conditions and improve quality of life for children with disabilities.

You will also be supporting the Touching Tiny Lives appeal which is raising funds to help reduce premature birth and improve care of sick and vulnerable babies. Your support will help continue this potentially life-saving work.

Please sponsor us - all donations, small or large, will be very gratefully received. Thank you!

First forays into dressmaking

I kept to-ing and fro-ing trying to decide which pattern I should use for my first steps into dressmaking, and eventually plumped for the pattern I got the Thai tailor to draft from my 1950s Swirl wrap dress. I thought this would be easiest since I have the completed article for reference, and it doesn't involve any complicated bits. The downside is of course it doesn't come with instructions. And I want to make one with cap sleeves, instead of sleeveless like the original.

I thought I'd try with a muslin first like Gertie, but then I figured if it goes well it may as well be wearable, so I bought some inexpensive red Swiss dot cotton poplin for my "muslin".

So I got my material home and realised I don't own any pins! Some seamstress I am! But I really wanted to get the pattern pieces cut out today, so I've been basting my pattern (made of paper and Thai newspapers!) to the fabric. I don't have a sewing machine either, so tomorrow I'll take them to my local craft shop (which, handily, is about 300 yards from my house) where they have good machines, you just pay to use them for the afternoon or whatever.

Wish me luck! Actually I don't know why I'm making such a big deal out of it - how hard can it be: Cut out pattern pieces, stitch darts, sew together!

Poll: When you can't find exactly what you want...


When you have your wishlist, but you can't find exactly what you want in vintage (the perfect red cardigan, say, or the sailor playsuit you need for summer) do you:

a) Settle for something vintage that's not really right but close enough
b) Thrift something that's closer to what you had in mind, but modern
c) Buy the garment of your dreams brand new, full price
d) Hold out for just the right thing to come up vintage, no matter how long it takes
e) Search out a suitable pattern and some fabric and sew it yourself

Just out of interest...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Beside the Seaside

So excited to get to wear this dress! I bought it weeks ago but accidentally got it shipped to my mother's address, so she brought it down with her this week. I think it's late 40s, from the length and cute puff sleeves. I love the novelty parasol print and the unusual colour scheme of salmon, chartreuse and grey.

Our friend Hossein visited with his sister, so we went to West Wittering beach for a late afternoon stroll and paddle in the sea. Did I mention I love living on the south coast?

Vintage 1940s/50s dress, ebay; Cardigan, M&S; Hair flower, New Look; Belt, purchased in Thailand; Shoes, M&S

Red Polka Dot Umbrellas

This Marilyn photoshoot wasn't even in my mind when I played pin-up at the beach last week, but now I've remembered it I have an idea to try do some Marilyn-inspired shots down at West Wittering beach sometime this summer. And if you fancy doing the same, here are my picks of the best red polka dot umbrellas:

Clockwise from top left: £10, Miss Selfridge; $65, Moschino Boutique; £7.95, John Lewis; £17.95, ebay; £15, Heal's; £8, New Look.

I have the New Look one, as seen in my tropical photo shoot in Hua Hin, Thailand:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kew Gardens

I went with my mother, my sister and my little nephew for a day out at Kew Gardens. It was a great day - glorious weather, and the gardens are absolutely lovely. I felt at home in the tropical rainforest glasshouses.

Also, I was excited to wear my flamingo dress! It's by H&M, but it was featured in Vogue magazine a few years back, and instantly sold out, and it's still hotly sought-after on ebay. I bought mine (on ebay) in September last year, so I only wore it once before it got put away for the winter. But finally the sun is back, and the flamingo dress returns.

Inside the Temperate Glasshouse

The Japanese Zen Garden

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New and Coming Soon - CHERRIES

I'm feeling fruity this week, with the latest additions to my etsy shop! Clockwise from top left: I've just added three styles of cherry shoes (the original ones, with tiny cherries on the ribbon, are also still available). The plastic cherries will also be available as a pin brooches, on a variety of ribbon bows. The 1970s/80s skirt isn't actually a new addition, but it matches the theme. I'm selling one of my collection of cherry hats - this 1930s red cap with millinery fruit is super cute, but doesn't really suit me.

High Street Picks: Sweaters

Following on from the theme of the Glee Eiffel Tower sweater I posted about on Sunday, while I was out shopping in town the other day I saw one or two that could have consoled me, if only I could afford them! (I have very limited funds at the moment, and I bought shoes instead).

Clockwise from top left: Pink bow cardigan, Oasis; Penny Farthing stripe sweater, Topshop; Bow cardigan in watermelon, Boden; Floral cardigan, Topshop; Pink carousel intarsia top, Miss Selfridge; Bow corsage cardigan, New Look.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Apple Dress Project

When Lauren of Wearing History posted pages from a 1937 catalogue featuring apple print dresses I thought they were just fabulous, so when I came across this apple print cotton (the apples are about 1.5" wide) I was inspired to try my hand at dressmaking. I found the perfect pattern on etsy, too! It's a little big, but I figured it should be easy to adjust smaller, right? Perhaps I ought to make one of those muslin mock-ups that Gertie (my sewing hero) is always talking about.

The inspiration, originally posted on Wearing History.

Although this won't be the first dress I've ever made - I made a few garments while I was at school and university, including a 2-piece ballgown with boned bodice (looked great from the outside, but the inside was a complete hash!) - I haven't sewn anything in quite a few years. So before diving into what will probably be quite a complex project - and while I'm waiting for the above pattern to arrive - I think I'm first going to have a go at a simpler design, one from my stash. I haven't decided which yet, or which of my newly-acquired fabrics I'll use, but be assured I'll keep you posted!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nice day for a picnic

The sun is shining, the birds are singing - the weather is just at that perfect stage, warm and with the barest of light breezes. I parcelled up some sandwiches and fruit and met Matin in the park for a picnic lunch. And then went shoe shopping. The end.

1940s/50s cap, ebay; 40s style silk knit sweater, charity shop; Belt, thrifted; Favourite pencil skirt, M&S; Flip flops (you can see why I needed to go shoe shopping!), hand-me-downs.

PS: Aren't the shutters adorable? This cottage is just round the corner from Matin's work!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gone Thrifting

Had a good afternoon at the charity shops today! No super-amazing vintage finds, but a good haul nonetheless - for my shop I got a 70s-does-40s floral dress, a 70s white & red polka dot ascot blouse, a cute aqua sweater and a little black dress; and for myself a 1940s style silk knit sweater and an adorable pyrex bowl - check out those midcentury graphics!

How to bag a bargain on ebay


These days, with everyone and her second cousin shopping on ebay hoping to find a vintage bargain, it sometimes seems impossible to snag a great deal. It's a familiar event - you're watching and waiting, checking back every few hours to make sure that perfect vintage 1950s polka dot sundress is still on £4.99 and then, at the last minute, the price leaps to £90. It's happened to us all. But I'm here to tell you that it is still possible to pick up vintage at great prices.

As an experienced ebay seller, I know the importance of listing techniques like photography and keywords when it comes to an item's final price. Conversely, this knowledge also helps me to dig out the items at the back of the rail, so to speak - the ones that haven't already been viewed and picked over by a thousand other shoppers. So listen very carefully, because I'm about to share my ebay shopping secrets.

Rule #1 Obscure Searches
The number one rule of ebay shopping is that you have to be prepared to wade through pages of search results. Yes, searching "vintage 40s tea dress" will bring up the best results, but you're simply not going to find a hidden gem this way, because that's exactly what 300 other people are searching for right this minute. You want to seek out the listings which don't have the most relevant keywords in the title. So even though it goes against your instincts, you've got to make your search as wide as possible, to catch all those overlooked listings. Within the vintage clothing category, tick the box for "search title and description" and get creative - try "metal zip", or "wide collar", or "rayon", or a brand name like "St. Michael".

Rule #2 Eliminate irrelevant listings
Did you know that you can eliminate keywords from your search by adding a minus before it? So by searching for "1950s dress -style" you can exclude a good proportion of those "vintage style" (I'm guilty of it too!) dresses that crowd out the original vintage, especially on ebay UK. Of course, it does also exclude listings such as "nautical style" and so forth, but we can find them later - for the best shopping experience you need to use a variety of these techniques.

Rule #3 Browse the categories
Again, this requires some degree of dedication. Sometimes the only way of digging out those diamonds in the rough that are titled simply "vintage dress" is by ploughing through the categories. Even here, you have to be open-minded - if you're looking for full-skirted sundresses, bear in mind that the styles of the early 60s were very much a carry-over from the 50s, until the emergence of the Mod movement later that decade, but as everyone associates the 60s with monochrome minidresses, a correctly listed early-to-mid 60s dress often won't draw the views of a similar dress listed under 1950s. Don't reject the 70s and 80s categories out of hand either - there were strong 30s influences in the 70s, and a lot of 40s-50s inspired designs in the 80s, so they're worth checking. You'll want to use some search keywords though to narrow the field - even just "dress" will significantly reduce the amount of trawling necessary.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Roses are Red (and pink and blue)

Just a quickie outfit post! This houndstooth skirt is another of the items I had made to measure in Thailand, and the rose is one of the bunch that Matin brought me when he came to pick me up at the airport on Tuesday.

Printed cardigan, Tesco; Hair flower, New Look (I think); Bangles, H&M; Houndstooth skirt, made to measure; Belt, purchased in Thailand; Camisole and tights, M&S; Shoes, Yoma.

Is it just me...

... or is the lady on the right screwing on her spare head?

1940s jumper and blouse pattern from Wearing History on Etsy.

I want this sweater

Okay, I've been trying not to buy into the whole Emma Pillsbury style cult, buuuuttt, I really really want this sweater!

But obviously since it's been featured on Glee it's not to be had for love nor money, so I'd best just content myself with looking at the pictures.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Vintage button cards

Following up from my post of vintage hairslide cards, here's some of my collection (except the last card, which is from etsy) of vintage button cards featuring fabulous vintage hairstyles from the 1930s-50s.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Next Stop, The Oscars

Well goodness me, I've been given not one but TWO more blog awards! But I'm afraid I'm not very good at acceptance speeches.

First, thanks to Sarah of The Antique Pearl, who passed the Sunshine Award on to me.

Thanks also to Miss Kitty Boo for the Beautiful Blogger Award - my second nomination for this one! So, seven random facts about me that you don't already know...
  1. I share a birthday with Walt Disney and the King of Thailand
  2. I am an expert at toasting marshmallows.
  3. I live in a shared house with three guys, including my boyfriend, Matin.
  4. My mother's side of the family has a colonial background, and my great-great-great-grandfather translated the bible into Tamil, the language of Tamil Nadu in south India.
  5. I grew up in South Wales (but I don't have a Welsh accent).
  6. "Earth Girls Are Easy" is one of my favourite movies-that-you-probably-never-heard-of.
  7. When I was about five I used to say my favourite colour was blue, even though I secretly liked pink, because I wanted to be different.

The rules for both these state that I must tag other blogs, but since I've already PIF'd the awards I've previously received to all my favourite bloggers, I'm going to twist the rules slightly and just share a few of my favourite websites.

Vintage Printable - lots and lots of hi-res vintage and antique ephemera and illustration. Easy to get lost in!

Fashion Era - costume history reference site, with loads of content - I look at it often and I've barely skimmed the surface.

Queens of Vintage - a daily magazine covering all things vintage.

And some blogs that should already be in your google reader: Vixen Vintage, Dizzy Dame, Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing, Q's Daydream, Freelancer's Fashionblog, Esme and the Lane Way, 1950s Atomic Ranch House, Tea with the Vintage Baroness


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