Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Work in Progress: Atomic Fabric

My very first original fabric design is well underway. I'm still working on it - I'm still playing with the colours and that. I also want to experiment with different effects (I'm going to play around with giving the lines a bit of 'distressed' texture, to emulate the brushstroke look of a lot of vintage barkcloth prints). I'm pleased with how it's going so far, though.


I took inspiration from various atomic-era vintage barkcloth fabrics. I've got ideas for a couple more currently buzzing around my head, which I'm thinking to produce in a few different colourways as a co-ordinating set with my recent cocktail party fabric.

What do you think?

* Edited to add: picaropicara left a comment asking to see more of the process involved in creating a fabric design, and/or a tutorial. Is this something many people would be interested in? I should add that any tutorial won't be software-specific since I don't use Illustrator, so it'll be more about the principles involved than a step-by-step.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Cherry on the Top

"I keep thinking of that cake. It's so absurd" she thought. True, there never would be such a cake again, but why it should come into her head now, when she was, of all things, trying to make up her mind about clothes, she couldn't understand. Certainly that smooth symmetrical confection -- perfection of confection, poem, and absurd again -- bore no relation to this higgledy-piggledy. She remembered it, wistfully. Round its glacial circumference medallions of crystallized ginger, next a ring of violets alternating with handbags -- no, not handbags - hazel nuts -- then, cut into leaves and stuck into the icing slantwise (so easy to pull out), a wreath of almonds and umbrellas -- "what am I talking about? I mean angelica, of course" -- rings within rings, until the middle circle - best of all - brilliant cherries. How she had longed to get a whole one to put on the side of her plate and save till last. Marvellous cake! Such a shame to cut it such an adventure to eat it.

At last she understood. "Of course! That's what mother was doing when she was decorating it. Now I see. All round her a mess, a confusion of bits and pieces, and she picked from here and there and the result was that cake. I remember she wouldn't put all the cherries in a cake. She liked to keep some back for the top." She remembered, too, her mother trying things out; holding a nut or a piece of peel over the cake to see if it looked right. "Funny thing is," went on her thoughts, "if asked in court to describe the actual cake beneath the icing, I couldn't. I don't think any of us noticed it. It must have been a Christmas cake -- or was it for one of our birthdays? Or am I quite wrong and it was plain? Never mind, it was just the top that counted, I remember that all right."

Just then the assistant returned with the hat and an apologetic look. It's just perfect for the suit, of course, madam, but it's rather expensive...."

She smiled, suddenly light-hearted with decision. "That's all right," she replied, "I'm keeping something back this year to buy really exciting accessories.

"You see, I have my own theory that people don't notice nearly so much what the rest of your clothes are like --

it's the trimmings that catch the eye and linger in the memory."



From Everywoman magazine, March 1950

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cocktail Party Fabric

It's been a while since I produced any fabric designs! I'm working on a range of atomic-themed designs, because I wanted some cool 50s cotton fabrics for making my record bags. This one is based on the endpaper from a vintage cocktail recipe book, I believe (I think I found it on flickr - it's been in my inspiration file for some time). I made some adjustments it to make it non-directional and give it a half-brick repeat, and I'm playing with different colour combinations (the original is on a black background).

Methinks it looks pretty darn groovy, no?

My next fabric will be my very own design - the first that I've created entirely from scratch. I've been gathering inspiration from various original 50s atomic print barkcloths and dress fabrics, and I'm currently playing around with design elements. I'm pleased with how it's shaping up so far (though there's still quite a lot of work to go). Stay tuned for my progress!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Featured on the BBC Homes & Antiques blog!


I just found myself featured on the BBC Homes & Antiques magazine blog under We saw you at Vintage Southbank Centre. The ladies on the H&A stall in the vintage marketplace were very taken with my record bag, and they've very sweetly included a link to my etsy store. Exciting!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dig On For Victory


I joined my sister and brother-in-law and the smalls up at the allotment for a picnic supper and a spot of digging. Well mostly Jo dug, and I tidied. Very elegantly.


I'm in love with this hat! This is the first time I've actually worn it, though I've owned it for some months. You can't really see in the pictures, but it has an Art Deco design in different coloured felts. I reckon it's probably 30s/40s - certainly not post-50s. Several of the stylish bloggers I met over the Vintage weekend were sporting straw hats of the era and I just love the look. I also love that even though the last time I wore this skirt it was with a very similar blouse, the hat gives it a completely different look.

One of the reasons I haven't worn it before though is that I always struggle with hat-friendly hairstyling. I'm working on perfecting some hat-friendly styles for long hair - I'll let you know if I come up with anything useful!


Yes, the record bag appears again - I've carried it almost every day since I made it! I'm pleased to say it's holding up well.


c1930s-40s straw hat, from a friend's vintage clearout; Skirt, ebay; Peasant blouse, New Look; Belt, purchased in Thailand; Bakelite & plastic bangles, various; Cat eye sunglasses, ebay; Flipflops, Accessorize; Record handbag, made by me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Vintage at Southbank Report

I'm sure you've all been waiting with bated breath for my report on the Vintage Festival this past weekend. It's taken me a while to collect my thoughts on the weekend - which I personally very much enjoyed, though credit for that is due at least as much to the company I kept as to the organisers.

It was the event on everyone's lips. Vintage at Southbank Centre, the follow-up event to last year's Vintage at Goodwood, was a weekend marked on the calendars of the entire UK vintage scene. After the mixed reviews of last year's event, we were fascinated to see how the weekend would turn out. And what a weekend it was! I attended all three days, and all in all thoroughly enjoyed myself. Especially as I'd bought my tickets at a discounted rate in the week preceeding the festival (more on that shortly).

On Friday I was selected to take part in the vintage fashion show / style contest sponsored by Green Energy. My hand made record bag went down a storm, which was very gratifying.


Copyright Green Energy / Xtrashot Photography

I enjoyed browsing the outdoor vintage marketplace, which was free admission. It was more a place to browse than buy, I must admit, as most of the prices were beyond my budget. I did come away with a lovely dress though, plus a few pairs of bargain vintage gloves, and a plate. The food festival was also pretty marvellous - Matin and I had some delicious Spanish paella on Saturday.

The super stylish BBC Homes & Antiques stand in the vintage marketplace.

I met gorgeously coiffed Felicity of my sponsor Now, Voyager. I also recognised Claire of Butterflies and Hurricanes and spent a long time hanging out, chatting and drinking rosé wine from a hastily-found vintage shot glass with her and her lovely ma at their stall in the marketplace.

The Now, Voyager stall

My chap

One of the most fun and worthwhile parts (for me) of the inside entertainment were the dance lessons, which were free to attend. Matin and I took a lesson in the quickstep on Saturday, which I really enjoyed, though I'd have loved to have had an introduction to swing dance. I did watch an introduction to jive upstairs in the 1950s "Let it Rock" area.

Dance instruction in the 1940s Torch Club

I was especially pleased to be able to meet in person several vintage bloggers. More than anything else that made the weekend for me. Margaret of Penny Dreadful Vintage was super sweet and looked after me when I was there on my own (along with Lena and Perdita). She was wearing the most fantastic hat on Saturday - I neglected to get a photo but hopefully she'll post one on her blog. It was also fun running into Bethan on Friday wearing a Swirl dress I sold her last spring (again I failed to get a picture - bad blogger!).

On Sunday I hobnobbed with the vintage blogging world at large, including various impeccably-styled members of the vintage 'Maf'. Gemma of Bake Do and Mend, Charley Landgirl 1980, Jeni Yesterday Girl, Shona from Heyday Vintage Style, Fleur de Guerre and more!

with Margaret of Penny Dreadful Vintage

with Jeni Yesterday Girl

Vintage blogger central

And now my thoughts on the weekend in general, and compared with last year...

Last year one thing they did get very right was the set-dressing. Since everything was built from scratch and housed in marquees in a field, this was obviously something they worked hard on: The 1950s Let It Rock arena had a chequerboard floor and Tiki-themed bar; the 1940s Torch Club had a dance hall atmosphere. This year the venue was inescapably essentially a conference centre. All the different arenas were just rooms (not exactly spacious, rather stuffy rooms) in a conference centre, with conference centre flooring and conference centre bars.

One thing they definitely improved on over last year was the crafting activities. You may recall from my review of last year's event that I was disappointed that the much-vaunted craft workshops were scattered in random venues, hard to locate, and there was no timetable available. This year they were all concentrated in two friendly, easy-to-locate areas in the Southbank centre, which I thought was great.

What the organisers notably failed to improve on was, I'm afraid, value for money. Much like last year, the price of £60 per day was pretty steep. This entry ticket didn't even include the evening "revue" each day of the headline acts including Percy Sledge, Adam Ant and Sandie Shaw - acts which last year would have been on the open air main stage. Revue tickets were an extra £15.

In the event, they didn't even come close to selling out so made tickets available at the drastically reduced price of £19, to the understandable chagrin of those who had already paid full price.

And then, there were the free areas. Last year of course everything was within the festival enclosure - fairground, marketplace, venues and all - and I had a complaint that having paid such a hefty entrance, one shouldn't be expected to fork out further for so many other things as the fairground rides, roller disco and so on. This year almost the reverse was true. The fairgound rides were in the free areas, so of course it was fine to charge for their use. The vintage marketplace, however, was also free entry, and since the shopping experience contributed a great deal to the 'pull' of the event, I felt this rather cheated ticket-buying customers (particularly as it wasn't clearly declared that the marketplace would be free until the weeks leading up to the event). As the weather was beautiful all weekend people obviously spent a lot of time outside, wandering around the marketplace, enjoying the Chap Olympiad and so on - but all the while with the nagging feeling that they weren't actually getting their ticket money's worth, since it covered only the inside entertainments. Even I felt compelled to retreat every so often from the sunshine to the dark and stuffy interior to ensure I was getting value for my ticket - and I only paid £19. That said, of course, if it had been raining I would certainly have been very glad of the inside - but this is a summer festival, designed based on assumptions (if, given the notorious British summer, not exactly guarantees) of good weather.

All in all, as I said, I did have a marvellous time. I enjoyed listening to the music, and just wandering around the vintage-y atmosphere and people watching was enormous fun. I certainly would like to see the festival return next year (though preferably not at Southbank), but I most ardently hope that the organisers actually listen to the vintage community, take suggestions on board and use them to improve the event.

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