Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I Collect Things

I have collections. I collect hats, and handbags. I collect buttons, and vintage stocking packages, and kitsch midcentury plastic brooches. And old suitcases (to store my collections in!) and 1940s & 50s magazines. And postcards, and photos, and papers.

And it occurred to me just now, as I sifted through my case of ephemera, that essentially, I collect other people's memories. Tiny pieces of ordinary people's ordinary lives - people I never knew. I collect the theatre programmes and bus tickets and film wallets and paper coasters and cigarette cards and tourist maps and handwritten notes and purchase receipts and greetings cards that, once, someone decided not to throw away. I collect the adventures their luggage accompanied them on (my favourite suitcase - the one on top of my wardrobe, covered with faded and flaking labels - went to San Francisco, and Hawaii, and Japan, and Australia). I collect the smiles bound up in the cheap costume jewellery kept for its sentimental value, and the potential of the buttons bought for sewing projects perhaps imagined but never started. I collect the walks in the park, and weddings, and days out, and shopping trips that the handbags and hats and gloves were worn for.

It's not just "stuff".

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tuppence Ha'penny Goes Stateside

Next Thursday I'll be heading out to San Francisco, followed by Portland, Oregon on the 15th. Needless to say I'm terribly excited! Suggestions, recommendations and meet-ups all welcome!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rosa Parks

I've posted Horrible Histories songs before - I love them, they work really well as pop songs while also being both hilarious and edumacational, like. Here's one of their newer ones which I just came across on youtube, The Rosa Parks song.

I also can't resist adding one of my all-time favourite HH songs, Dick Turpin Highwayman (plus, Mat Baynton: f--- yes.)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

For Sale!

I've been doing a bit of listing on ebay - including some items from my own wardrobe - nearly all on very low start prices so there's a good chance of grabbing a bargain!

50s Style Apple Print Dress
Bust 38" / Waist 27" / Hips full

Nautical novelty print 1940s blouse
Bust 34-36" / Waist 32"

1940s Navy Rayon Crepe Dress with Shirred Shoulders
Bust 40" / Waist 29.5" / Hips 41"

Red and white polka dot playsuit
Bust 40" / Waist 32" / Hips 40"

70s-does-30s Strawberry print dress
Bust 32" / Waist 26" / Hips 36"

Vintage 50s-60s Floral Day Dress
Bust 40" / Waist 31" / Hips full

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hello Hot Stuff!

Oh wow but it's been hot hot hot here these past couple of weeks! So I made a dress to match. I've actually got a few (like, five) sewing projects on the go at the moment, but they all involve lots of pattern drafting and muslin-making, so I really wanted a quickie project because I was starting to get bored of my wardrobe and wanted new clothes fast! I knocked up this little number over the course of a weekend. The fabric is recycled - it was originally three skirts by Primark (a budget fashion retailer, for those unfamiliar with the brand). I fell in love with the quirky print (Gerberas! Chilli peppers!) when I came across it on ebay, and proceeded to stalk the site until I'd acquired the three I figured I'd need for the dress I had in mind.

I knew the stripe print would lend itself perfectly to this V-neck pattern (the same pattern I based my Christmas dress on). I interlined the bodice, as the cheap cotton fabric is lightweight to the point of being almost see-through. The skirt is made using a different pattern, it's in gores forming a half-circle skirt. I actually finished this a couple of weeks ago and I've worn it several times already. I LOVE this dress - it's really easy to wear, and very comfortable.

Outfit details: Hot Stuff Sundress - made by me from 50s pattern & recycled fabric; Felt rose, purchased in Thailand; Necklace, ebay; Sunglasses, ebay; Earrings, purchased in Thailand; Leather belt, charity shop; Bakelite & plastic bangles, various; Handbag, etsy; Shoes (which you can't really see but are really nice, and comfortable - I like them so much I bought them in two colours), Marks & Spencer.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

{Style Inspiration} 1940s Summer Dresses

For this week's Sunday style inspiration I give you a selection of colourful summer dresses from the 1940s. These are all from "Everywoman" magazine.

Interesting use of stripes, from 1942

Loving these sweet styles and adorable prints from 1945

Styles on the cusp of the New Look era, 1947

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Paintbox Colours

This weekend Landgirl Charly organised a little get together to meet up with Tasha of By Gum By Golly at the end of her trip to the UK. We passed a pleasant afternoon in the cosy library of The Victoria in Paddington, where apparently Charles Dickens spent time writing "Our Mutual Friend" - how cool is that? The group photos were on Charly's camera, so check her blog over the next few days.

Meanwhile, shall we take a moment to talk about my dress? Now that I'm working a nine-to-five (and yes, I spend a lot of time humming Dolly Parton to myself) and am required to look vaguely "normal" on a day to day basis, I kind of make the most of the opportunity to have fun with my clothes at the weekends! This is the 50s party dress I wore to my sister's wedding two years ago - the one I bought at a car boot sale for £2, my best ever car boot bargain ever ever. It's super cute, but kind of formal for afternoon wear, so I dressed it down a touch with a casual cardigan, and accessorised in red, coral and orange. This is possibly my favourite colour combination right now.

After I got home we went for a walk in the meadow in the sunset - I don't want to speak too soon but summer might just finally have arrived!

50s taffeta party dress, car boot sale; Earrings, Primark; Plastic bead necklace, car boot sale; Lovebirds necklace, gift from Matin; Cardigan, New Look; Clutch bag, charity shop; Bakelite and plastic bangles, various; Shoes, Office.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

{Style Inspiration} Novelty Buttons

Anyone who sews vintage (and many who don't) will probably admit to a slight (or major) obsession with novelty buttons - also known as figural, goofy or realistic buttons. Schiaparelli in particular helped popularise the idea of buttons as a type of costume jewellery, her wild designs including oversize insects, mermaids, vegetables, carnival horses and pianos - among many, many more.

Evening ensemble by Schiaparelli featuring "Chinaman" buttons, late 30s

Evening jacket by Schiaparelli with vegetable embroidery and mismatched vegetable buttons

The development and rise of plastics in the early 20th century made novelty buttons cheap to manufacture, and they enjoyed a heyday in the 1930s and 40s. All the examples below are from the Sears & Roebuck catalogue archive. This is a rather picture-heavy post, there just were so many adorable examples I couldn't bear not to share them!

It was common for novelty buttons to be produced in co-ordinated rather than matching sets, such as the Roman numeral buttons on this 1936 dress.

1937: Loving the nautical stars. I also like how those cute clothespin buttons are a bit more subtle than some novelty buttons - they'd just look like ordinary toggle-style buttons until you took a closer look.

Beautifully ornate carved Catalin (Bakelite) button and buckle sets from 1937. They're all three lovely, but Bakelite bird buttons and matching buckle? Be still my beating heart!

Novelty zoological buttons (including another Catalin bird design - I have one of these, but I'd so like to have a set and make a sweet shirtwaist), again from 1937

1938 designs included Disney characters (how much would those early Disney collectables be worth now?!), flowerpots and carved fruit shapes, as well as an unusual 'stitchable' design.

Disney's Snow White was released nationally in 1938, becoming the highest grossing sound film at that time and inspiring these Seven Dwarf buttons. The "Swing Band" set also reflects popular culture of the era.

1939 - I have a set of these "Lovebirds" buttons waiting for the perfect project, and I'm constantly on the lookout for a set of the "Ensemble" buttons - they're always way pricey on ebay and etsy.

Check out the novelty plastic cherry shaped hook-and-eye closures (R) - 1939

1939: I've counted five Scottie dog designs so far - testament to the 1930s love for Scotties.

Colourful designs from 1940

Button, buckle and matching thread sets from 1942

Oversize statement buttons for 1945 - as fabric rationing had taken its toll on garment design and manufacture, buttons were one of the few remaining ways to add flare to clothes.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Good Hair Day

A little outfit post from a few weeks back when we last saw some sunshine! The British weather has been really living up to its reputation these past few weeks (months!) and it's been pretty horrible. But back at the beginning of May we had a very brief respite from the cold and grey, and I managed to grab these pics. Mostly I'm proud of my hairstyle - I have no idea how I got it to do that and I'm sure I couldn't recreate it, but at least there are photos.

This skirt you've seen before - it's a firm favourite and been in regular rotation throughout winter and spring - it's fun trying to find new ways to wear it. I love that the fact it's quilted makes it completely winter-appropriate, but the floral print and fresh colours mean it's not too heavy-looking for spring so I can continue wearing it long after my beloved telephone skirt has been relegated to the winter wardrobe.

Yeah, I totally got photobombed by next door's cat Coco.

Outfit details: 50s quilted circle sirt, etsy; top, charity shop; necklace, I've had it since I was five; Gloves, car boot sale.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

{Style Inspiration} Colourful Stockings

Yes, Style Inspiration Sundays are back! This week I thought I'd introduce a lingerie fad which increased in popularity over the 1950s: coloured stockings. It started in the early 50s with novelty 'coloured seam' stockings, before developing into a trend for tinted nylons to match one's outfit colours.







Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lots of Changes

Hello lovely readers! By way of explanation for my rather sudden disappearing act, I've been going through a whole lot of changes over here. First I got a new job, which I really enjoy - yay! Unfortunately I'm still getting used to the dramatic shift in my daily schedule, which leaves little time and opportunity to take outfit pictures and write posts. My personal life has been a bit hectic of late too - long story short, I'm going to be moving house quite soon.

In the meantime, I have managed to put together a few little outfit posts. As you may recall I'm a bit obsessed with bluebells. They were really late this year because of the disgusting weather we've had for the last few months, but I did get the chance to visit the bluebell woods of the delightful Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park.

I love this dress and wear it a fair bit, but for some reason it's escaped being featured in an outfit post before now. I especially love that it's neutral colourway means that unlike most of my novelty-printed wardrobe, it provides a bit of a blank canvas to let accessories take centre stage.

Vintage 50s/60s hat, came in an ebay bundle as I recall; Green feather bird, Now, Voyager; 1950s cardigan, from an estate; 1950s dress, ebay; Belt, purchased in Thailand; Gloves, can't remember; Basket handbag, purchased in Thailand; Cherry petticoat, ebay (with a new waistband); Shoes, Office.


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