Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding

We interrupt Applique Week (because I've been all caught up in Royal wedding mania and haven't prepared enough posts!) to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their delightful wedding.

Of course, everyone's been talking about The Dress - surrounded in complete secrecy until its official outing, the simple confection of silk and lace did not disappoint. Comparisons were drawn with the similarly lace-overlaid and wasp-waisted gown worn by Grace Kelly for her 1956 marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco.

Normal service will hopefully resume tomorrow, although as I'm still working on my next project it looks as though applique "week" may stretch into May!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

{Applique Week} The "Let's Go To Vegas" Cardigan

Inspired by Suse's sweaters I decided I wanted to applique a cardigan with playing cards!

You will need:
  • Red felt remnant
  • White felt remnant
  • Red sewing thread
  • White sewing thread
  • Cardigan or sweater
  • Freezer paper (optional)
  • Disappearing ink pen

First I sketched out heart shapes on freezer paper, ironed it to adhere to the red felt, and cut out the shapes. The diamonds and small hearts I cut freehand. The 'cards' are rectangles of white felt about 2 1/4" x 3 1/4" (slightly smaller than a real playing card), with the corners rounded off.

You need as many large shapes as the numbers you plan, plus two tiny ones for each card (only one if the corner will be covered).

I drew the numbers and 'A's in the corners with a disappearing ink pen, then embroidered over the lines with backstitch, using a triple thickness of thread.

The shapes are attached to the cards using a simple running stitch.

As I didn't have a cardigan suitable for embellishing I bought this inexpensive cotton knit from New Look. The original features two appliques on the front, but because of the deep V-neckline of the cardigan there was only room for one, at the waist, so I placed the other on the sleeve.

Photos by Matin. Post-processing courtesy of Lo-Fi App.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

{Applique Week} "Suse" Sweaters

Taken from LIFE magazine, 27 Jan 1947 (incidentally, did you know about the LIFE magazine archive on google books? How great is that!).

Susan Dannenberg of Los Angeles ("who liked sweaters but did not have a sweater figure") knitted herself some sweaters in the early 1940s. In an effort to distract from her portly figure by drawing attention to the sweater itself she added wacky felt appliques. Friends liked her designs so she made some for them, then started to sell her work.

By the time of this LIFE magazine feature in 1947 "Suse" (pronounced Susie) sweaters were in great demand - Dannenberg counted Hollywood stars including Barbara Stanwyck and Esther Williams among her best customers. With price tags equivalent to five or six hundred dollars in today's money, the hand knitted sweaters had cult appeal.

The captions on the LIFE archive photos are from the original magazine feature.

"Jezebel" has red bleeding heart pierced by jewelled dagger. This, "Suse's" most popular design, comes in a variety of colors but the heart is always red.

"Buzzing Bees" is an evening sweater with honey-colored felt bees dotted with gold beads. Skirts to match sweaters are a recent "Suse" innovation.

"Roaring Lions" is a short-sleeved royal blue sweater with a frieze of white felt lions. Outfit costs $100 [that's nearly $1,000 in today's dollar]. "Suse" designs both the sweaters and the motifs.

"Giant Daisies" has an oversize spray spreading from shoulder to waist. All "Suse" sweaters are made to be worn over a skirt, not tucked in.

It was coming across this original "Suse" sweater on ebay that first brought the name to my attention.

Monday, April 25, 2011

{Applique Week} Inspiration

April's theme week is all about applique. Applique (properly spelt appliqué, but in English the accent is often omitted) literally means the application of one material to the surface of another. In terms of fashion and homewares this generally consists of fabric shapes attached singly or to create an image or pattern.

To kick off the week and whet your appetites, here's a bit of vintage applique inspiration.

This page from a 1940 Sears catalogue features not one but three different applique ideas. I love love love the pink one with black-outlined bow applique, in gingham on solid at the collar and with the effect reversed at the hem - definitely going on my to-copy list. Then the green stripe dress with red buttons and cherry appliques - what's not to love? The third isn't actually applique but "daisy bouquets printed to look like applique".

The frock above, from 1942, features "a smart splash of color in the cut-out print that is appliqued at shoulder and on the lower skirt".

Above: Daisy appliques and delicate hand embroidery adorn a neckline. (Photo from myvintagevogue)

A simple dirndl dress from 1942 appliqued around the hem (and on the sleeves - cute touch) with a repeated apple motif.

In the 1950s, of course, applique really took off as an embellishment to circle skirts, and a wide range of both ready-cut felt appliques and transfer templates were available. Of course there was the ubiquitous poodle, but there were tons of other themes available too. I love the "Date Time" set above (the one with the phone, clock and music). Oriental dancers seem a little random. And mean kitty (below) just isn't nice!

I love the suggestions for use: "Add a fashion flair to skirts, tea aprons, pillows, tote bags, cafe curtains, table runners, party decorations, jackets, pot holders, place mats."

Circle skirt patterns were often sold complete with a set of applique transfers - this bird & cage design is one of my favourites. It comes up quite often on etsy.

The adorable Cafe Parisien motif on this Swirl dress from the 50s/60s is in a combination of machined satin stitch and applique.

How about this for advanced-manual applique? A 3-dimensional bird with velvet body and a cascading feather tail from 1922. Isn't it fabulous? I really want to use this idea one day.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ebay Shop Highlights

I've got some great stuff just listed in my ebay shop this week, including one or two that I'm going to need a very good reason to sell! Also, a note if you've got your eye on any of my 1940s style shoes, they're selling out fast!

Clockwise from top left: Vintage 50s sequin & pom-pom circle skirt, W27; Red polka dot cropped cardigan, UK 12; 1950s khaki polka dot day dress, 38-27-F; Nautical stripe gored circle skirt, W28; 1960s toile de jouy print day dress, 36-28-F; French Connection cotton lawn pussy bow blouse, UK 12.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nautical on the Beach

Some friends called round and we had a spontaneous trip to West Wittering beach for a barbecue. I love the beach here! The beach huts and sand dunes make the best photo settings.

Remember this sweater? I featured it in my high street vintage roundup. I've worn it several times - it's so cute it's easy to throw on with a skirt (or for the beach, these shorts) and few nautical accessories and look like I've made lots of effort.

Sweater, New Look; Sailor shorts, made to order in Thailand; Bakelite and plastic bangles, various; Earrings & nautical necklace, purchased in Thailand; Anchor ring, charity shop; Wicker purse, etsy; Shoes, Marks & Spencer; Vintage cat eye sunglasses, ebay.

Photo effects courtesy of Lo-Fi App.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sugar Sugar

A sugar-sweet outfit for a sunny day (I hope this amazing weather continues - we're going camping next week!). I feel like I've been clicking the "1950s" label a lot recently - perhaps I go for 1950s styles more when the sun's out. Do you have a seasonal era preference?

Thanks to the candy colours in this skirt I've been walking round all day humming "you are my candy girl". By way of random triva, that song was actually on the first cassette tape I ever owned, when I was perhaps four or five. It included random classics like "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" and "Johnny Reggae" (all songs from way before my time - I obviously got into vintage very early), and I played it on my tan plastic Fisher-Price cassette player.

Anyway, the outfit... 80s gingham skirt, charity shop; Sandals, Marks & Spencer; Bangles, earrings and cupcake ring, purchased in Thailand; Feather cocktail hat, Janine Basil; Vintage milk glass bead necklace, can't remember; Camisole, Marks & Spencer; Shirt, made in Thailand; Cat eye sunglasses, ebay; Wicker handbag, etsy; 1950s crinoline, Marmaduke's.

Vintage photo effects by Lo-Fi App.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Royal Wedding Fever - 1922

Yes, Royal wedding fever is gripping the nation. Well, partly because of the extra long bank holiday we're getting out of it. But the papers can't go a day without mentioning it, and speculation on Kate's dress (apparently she designed it herself) is taking up a good proportion of those column inches. In 1922 Princess Mary, daughter of King George V and sister of the future George VI (the one from the King's Speech) married Henry, Viscount Lascelles; her gown was the very picture of early 20s glamour and opulence.

No Royal bride has ever worn a lovelier dress than that made for Princess Mary.

This sketch gives an idea of the glittering, shining loveliness of the pearl and diamond and silver bullion embroidered original upon which Mr. Reville spent so much time and thought.

The straight lines of the gown are infinitely becoming to the Princess, and the overdress of marquisette slips over a straight cloth of silver foundation that is hemmed with narrow silver lace.

The rather long sleeves are a departure from the very short ones usually worn by Royal brides, but, from the point of view of mere appearances, far more becoming for daytime wear.

The emblematic design of the train, of duchesse satin, specially woven at Braintree by Warner and Son, is lightly traced in silver thread and diamonds, and the silver lotus blossoms from Delhi are easily distinguishable by their massive character. Notice the Honiton lace given by the Queen.

The veil that falls over the gown is of Alencon tulle bordered with seed pearls.

In contrast with the white and silver scheme of the Royal bridal cortege, the Queen has chosen a wonderful cream and gold gown, or, rather, the background is cream and gold lame tissue, and this is partially covered by a handsome design in velvet of a deep parchment tint.

The lovely material needs no decoration, and, as the sketch shows, is caught at one side with an exquisite jewel ornament with jewelled strands finished with jewelled tassels.

The cross-over corsage opens over the same gold lace that is used for the sleeves. Notice the Garter on the arm.

This gown, too, was made by Reville, Ltd.

Like the bride, Princess Mary's bridesmaids are to wear white and silver gowns. They were made by Reville, Ltd.

The silver cloth that forms the back and front of the gowns falls over finest hand-made silver lace imposed on a foundation of ivory satin anglaise.

Pointed leaves of Princess Mary blue velvet form a background for the silver rose that fastens the waistband, decorated, like the lace, with small mother-of-pearl flowers.

Lace and tulle form the sleeves, and tulle softens the square-cut decolletage, and each maid wears her veil arranged cap fashion over the head and held with pointed silver leaves and diamond berries.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Spring Blossom Dress

When Mena of the Sew Weekly contacted me a few weeks ago inviting me to contribute to a collaborative project, I was excited and immensely flattered. I was even more excited - and somewhat intimidated - when I realised I was going to feature alongside blogging celebrities, including Casey and Gertie, who inspired me to take up sewing in the first place.

For the project, Mena sent each of us four yards of vintage lace to use in a sewing project of our own. I chose a 1940s swing dress pattern and made it up in a vintage dusky pink rayon that I've been hoarding for months.

The pictures were taken in the Sussex town of Petworth - I named the dress in honour of the cherry trees in the churchyard, which were in full, pretty pink bloom. Be sure to head over to the Sew Weekly for my full post and more photos!

Pictures by Matin. Vintage photo effects by Lo-Fi photo app.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sanderson Fabric & Wallpaper

Following on from my visit to the Robin & Lucienne Day exhibition the other day, I notice Sanderson have released a fabulous new 1950s range in wallpapers and furnishing fabrics.

The "mobiles" design is classic iconic 50s, especially in this killer midcentury interior setting.

I'm in love with "Fifi", which is a reproduction of an original 1950s Sanderson wallpaper that was rediscovered in a loft! I'm thinking about getting some to paper the back of my boring Argos bookcase. I had hoped to find a classic Jetsons-y, space-age-y wallpaper to go in there - I was picturing something in the vein of Jessie Tait's Cherokee design - but I couldn't find anything like that (given the 1950s interiors trend, you'd think there'd be more 50s wallpapers available, but apparently not).

There are a couple of funky Tiki-influenced designs too (and yes, this is how I wish my workspace looked).

To close, I'll leave you with this fantastically un-PC advert for Sanderson wallpapers from 1948:

Sunday, April 17, 2011


These photos are actually from last week, when all the magnolia trees down my sister's road were in full bloom. The blooming season is even more fleeting than sakura - the huge, pink-tinged blossoms only last about a week; the trees are now leafy green. Anyway, in honour of this delightful floral my outfit was based on a magnolia-inspired colour scheme of white, pink and green.

1950s wool skirt, etsy; Blouse, French Connection via ebay; Lovebirds brooch, gift from Matin; Plastic and Lucite bangles, various; Basket purse, purchased in Thailand; Sandals, Marks & Spencer; Hair flower, H&M.

Photo effects by Lo-Fi photo app.


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