Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: The Fashion File: Advice, Tips, and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men

I was so excited when Cowboy bought me this book by Janie Bryant (the costume designer for Mad Men).

Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations.

I was hoping for a more indepth look at how she created the personal styles for Joan, Betty etc, and how to create a personalised vintage look - this book is not that.

If you had no idea where to start creating your 'look', this would be a good book for you - just don't expect to be dressing like Joan Holloway at the end of it. Its definitely how to incorporate vintage pieces into a modern wardrobe, not how to wear vintage.

I found the 'tone' of the book a little bit patronising, but I guess that I wasn't the target audience. Some good bits - Janie is totally open about foundation garments and girdles, and recommends them for all figure hugging clothes. The bits in the back that show you how to tie a cravat, a bow tie and a windsor - turns out i've been tying my ascots wrong all this time!

Her drawings illustrations are lovely (and kinda weird) but didn't rock my world i'm afraid - I was more interested in the scarce photos from Mad Men.

Conclusion - vintage aficionados, don't bother. You already know most of this, and google has many images from Mad Men floating around. And images on how to tie a tie.

This book is aimed at the beginner fashionistas on the forums who like the look of Mad Men but would never dare wear a complete vintage outfit. I think the Horrockses Fashion book or the EveryDay Fashions of the Fifties would be better buys.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lady Luck Festival, Katoomba

On Saturday was the 2nd Lady Luck Festival up in the Blue Mountains - road trip!

Katoomba is about 2 hours away from Sydney, and about 10 degrees cooler too (bring your cardigan). Its full of cafes, antique stores and day-tourists coming to see the scenery.

Very Special Femmes! Can you believe that my pal Kim got her dress for $15 from a flea market? Its handmade, I think its a vintage repro.

The festival itself was REALLY small, a handful of stalls and cars but lots of people walking around. I was very well behaved and didnt buy anything there (although I snagged a pale green angora cardigan at an Op-Shop on the way up) and Cowboy bought some amazing anodised aluminium cannisters from a place on the main street.

I wore my border-print dirndl skirt + pettocoat, a white poplin top (based on the black version here), polka-dot espadrilles and black vintage cardigan. Accessories: vintage pink straw hat (from RetroSpect'd), my Nan's vintage brooch and earrings, pale-pink flocked chiffon scarf and pink el-cheapo umbrella.

The night before I tried setting my fringe in rollers and sleeping in them - BAD IDEA. They annoyed the hell out of me all night, and I ended up taking them out. Suprisingly the curls were still there in the morning. If someone can tell me how the heck to sleep in rollers, i'd be appreciative!

Cowboy hamming it up

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend too!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hooded Scarf, circa 1944

From the Australian Womens Weekly Knitting Book for Adults - as requested by Evie (looking for a certain vintage pattern? Let me know).

Evie - its called a Parka with Scarf, on the last page.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Royal Crown Revue

Oh my goodness.

Can anyone in Sydney recommend a good Swing class, cos Cowboy and I are smitten! Rock and Roll/Rockabilly are fun but Swing just looks really versatile...
The band was really good (a little on the slow side sometimes) and the venue perfect for dancing. My only gripe was the price of drinks at the Town Hall - $4 for a water or a soft drink? Crazy!

We had a great time though, dancing with a hundred or so other couples. If Royal Crown Revue ever play near you, I really recommend going to see them.

The outfit came out perfectly. Well, nearly. The shoulder seams on the top are too far forward but its wearable.

The sleeve cuff and self covered buttons worked really well, and I just hot-glue gunned a rose onto a hair clip for my hair (the pearls were my Nan's).

One of my closest friends just got back from 6 months in the UK and bought me these amazing retro-inspired hair clips - how have I never seen Cath Kidston stuff before? So cute!

I can't get over how insanely busy we're going to be over the next two months - Mardi Gras is coming up during February, my 30th birthday, AutumnFest in Taree and Imelda May down in Melbourne! Yikes!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

STtDC Project 1 - Dirndl madness

Thanks for the lovely comments about my Nan!

Sewing Through the Decades Challenge - the pleated waist Dirndl.

After looking through the patterns, I felt I didnt need to un-factory-fold a vintage one for this - two big rectangles +  waistband rectangle = skirt. Gertie has a great tutorial on making a gathered dirndl, which has photos.
(Top is the Doris top from Pin Up Girl Clothing, shoes from Sandler).

I really wanted one with a border print, the fabric came from the stash - but was exactly what I had planned to do with it.  I added a pocket on one side copying the pattern piece off another skirt. I used a vintage 'Lightening Brand' metal teeth zipper and a vintage button on the waist band.
The hem circumference on both skirts is about 3m.

The second skirt was made using AMAZING black & red plaid taffeta.
$2 a meter?
I bought the whole roll and plan on making 'Challenge 3 - Fancy Day Dress' out of the rest. No pockets in this number and its amazingly poofy (Fin was trying to take 'artistic' photos this time around). I'm going to wear it tomorrow to Royal Crown Revue.

Quick and Dirty How-To:

- pretty much follow Gertie's instructions (my waistband is taller though - about 3.5cm high - and I did a lapped zipper).
- I used less ease on the waist, approx half an inch, and allowed another inch for the overlap.
- instead of gathering the fabric, hand pleat it to fit the waistband (it doesnt matter if the pleats arn't 100% the same as each other, try and get them as close as possible though). It helps to mark the center front and centre back when you do this so the fabric is equally distributed. Make sure that they go in the right direction towards the zipper placket.
- I recommend using terylene petersham (waistbanding) in the waist band, you get a firmer, more historically accurate fit. It also stops the waistband from folding over or getting creases. (you can get terylene from Spotlight and Lincraft)


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

RIP Vera Kemp

On Friday 14th January 2011, my Nan finally passed away.

Nan was a Welsh coal miners daughter (with 8 sisters) who threw everything away on a chance in Australia with her husband in the 60s. It took 6 weeks by boat to come over.

(Nan gave me the faux-fur stole she's wearing in this photo)
If she hadn't done this brave act, my family would never have had the opportunities we have now.

Nan had an extremely dry sense of humour - even as she was dying she teased one of the nurses, blaming the poor woman for her state.
She loved clothes and shoes, and could never walk past an op-shop (thrift store) without seeing if there were some bargins inside - something I know i've gotten from her. We had some awesome times op-shopping.
Nan was a lady, she would never go out in public without putting on 'her face' or making sure her hair was done. On the flip side, Nan liked a drink, a dance, a smoke and a flutter on the pokies. She also liked looking at handsome men, of any age. No one was safe...

Nan accepted who I was, and who I loved without question. She believed in equality for GLBTQI, she thought the Catholic Church was stupid for its stance on condoms. I can't begin to describe how awesome she was.

You were important to many people. You're very missed.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Just a quick update...

I'm flying down to Geelong to see my Nan again today - she's had another stroke and they're not sure she'll recover this time.

- I've finished two - read it, TWO dirndl skirts.
One in the border print and another in black and red plaid taffetta. Super, amazingly, easy and i'll post the photos next week.

Hopefully I can make a blouse to match because I'd love to wear it next week to see Royal Crown Revue at the Sydney Festival (along with the super cute Bleyer Lindy Hoppers I got for Xmas).

- How fabulous is the Negroni shirt pattern from Colette? I love collecting (decent) vintage men's shirt patterns, and this modern repro is fabulous. Male Pattern Boldness is running a sew-along for February, and if you use code MPBNEGRONI at the checkout you'll get 20% off the pattern.
I've already ordered one for Cowboy.

Have a fabulous weekend all! Hope the Brisbanites are coping with the flooding, and the Americans don't get too snowed under...

Monday, January 10, 2011

STtD - My vintage sewing challenge

Here's my late 1950's sewing challenge...

1. 50s pleated dirndl skirt with a border print - circa late 50s.

2. The perfect shirt dress, possibly Weigels 1791 (I have many to choose from in my stash)

3. Fancy day dress, the infamous Butterick 6815 from 1954

4. Casual day dress, Vintage Vogue 2961 (early 50s, oh well)

5. Fitted blouse, possibly with monogram, and probably with some neckline detail like a peter-pan collar

6. Wiggle dress - undecided, but I have a LOT to choose from in my pattern boxes

7. Playsuit or romper (I think these are early 50s also)

Wish me luck - i'm starting the dirndl skirt tonite!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Mexicana - Chadwick's Sweater News 1939

I can't get enough of Chadwick's Sweater News - there's just some really interesting patterns in it.

Take Mexicana for example - even though its a black and white photo you can get an idea of how outlandish the colours would have been in real life. I'm guessing yellow, red, orange and maybe deep blue? How fabulous!


Sewing Through the Decades Challenge

I've been hunting for a nice vintage themed sew-along, but it had to meet certain requirements (yes, i'm a fussbot).
Something without pressures or tight deadlines but still with an interesting concept.
Something that is self-driven and will force me to grade-up the vintage patterns I own.

Found it - My Happy Sewing Place + Rhinestones and Telephones are holding Sewing Through the Decades Challenge.

From the R&T:

This isn't a traditional sew-along, rather a self-driven challenge. Deadlines are out the window on this one and taking pleasure in the creative process is high on the agenda. As Debi says in her post:

"The basic thought is to challenge yourself to explore different time periods (which can be three years in one decade—1943, 1944, 1945) or several patterns across several decades (50’s, 60’s, 70’s). You can sew blouses, skirts, dresses, trousers…whatever you want! It will be fun to share our experiences in sewing from different time periods. The patterns can span both vintage and modern years."

I'm in!
I'm going to solidly focus on the fifties (mid to late). Now to raid my sewing stash and figure out what I want to make!

Is anyone thinking of doing a sewing along this year?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Xmas 2010 - Pretty Beach

 Apologies for the innundation of posts lately, but so much has been happening. To make up for it, i'm going to do a giveaway shortly (well, three giveaways). Just need to get a decent camera to take photos...
Pretty Beach, Xmas 2010

Cowboy and I finally managed to get away for a week, and we stayed in some amazing cabins at Pretty Beach (between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay). The cabins are managed by the State Parks - we had pretty low expectations but were blown away! Espresso maker, new fridge, plasma TV, microwave!

(red vintage style bathers from PinUp Girl Clothing. Cowboy's shorts by me!)

The weather was quite odd for Summer, really hot one day and then blowing a gale the next. It stormed so bad on the second night we were here some people's tents blew down. We were safe inside our cabin, with a glass of red wine and a DVD.

We spent most of the time walking along the beach, bush tracks or rock pools (Cowboy has numerous photos of me bending over looking at things - gee thanks!). There were some Aboriginal middens that we wanted to check out, but after nearly stepping on a snake on the way there we decided to give it a miss.

Forties style head scarf saved me from bad hair days - I left my hair straightener at home! Fail.

Oh and stumbled across an amazingly cheap op-shop in Batemans Bay (Cowboy scored a wool black and red uniform for dirt cheap)

(this sign is on the way to Batemans Bay, I asked Cowboy to look 'mean')

Holiday round up - one of the best i've had! I'd really love to go back down there, its a lovely area and i'd recommend the cabins as a place to stay. Cowboy is a great travelling partner, i'd rate her 4 stars David ;).

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

First NY's Evolution - done!

Get over the fear of my motorbike.

Introducing 'Kitten'. She's a beautiful Honda GB250 from Japan. She's red and chrome-y. She only has 15,000 on the clock despite being from 1988.

Kitten enjoys long rides when its not peak hour, and being fussed over.

I got her at the end of November from Sumoto in Melbourne and they sent her to Sydney. I'd never ridden a 'proper' motorbike before, and I don't have a car licence (i.e. I don't know anything about gears).

After heaps of practice in my street, advice from the president of Dykes on Bikes, and testing my nerves with the hoons in Bankstown (going to Westfield's to practice hill starts in the car park at night is intimidating) I did something really brave.

I rode to work today.
Liverpool is 15km from Punchbowl, using the main route the trucks use. It also has a lot of hills.
I didn't stall once.

I feel so effing proud of myself right now.

(I did have to bring my hair straightener to work and get rid of the terrible helmet hair in the bathroom before anyone saw me though hehe)

I'm hoping to be good enough to ride with the Dykes on Bikes at Mardi Gras this year - with my bestie Femme friend Carly on the back. In dresses and petticoats.

It will be Femme-tastic!

It won't look like this:

Monday, January 03, 2011

Midnight Cowboy - Butterick 4985

After seeing Lazy Stitching's version of this shirt on a busty gal, I really wanted to give it a try.

Please excuse the messy quiff and messy-er backyard. (Lipstick is the amazing matte Temptress from Illamasqua, the brooch is a vintage lucite score from the Rock and Roll markets in Tempe)

I made the version with the tie neck, but used the puff sleeve instead of the cape sleeve. I have a major weakness for puff sleeves.

The Good:
The fabric is pure awesome - purple, black and white cotton yarn dye that was $2.50 a meter from Marrickville. Its light and airy, but not too transparent.
The ease of the construction - I glanced at the instructions once, and sailed ahead. Its basic!

The Meh:
I tried to do my first FBA, but it really didnt need it. I ended up with weird pouching at the bust gathers and too much excess fabric at the waist, and vowed to never do a FBA again!
I salvaged the top by unpicking, cutting off 2 inches of excess from the bust and taking it in by 2 inches.
The top is quite low-cut, I had to add a prestud above the button to stop it gaping (even then it gapes a little). If I made it again i'd probably ignore the button placement and use 5 buttons.
My buttonholes suck. I have to do them manually on my 1950's machine, and its really hit and miss sometimes.

All in All?
This top has really grown on me - I love it! Maybe its just the colours of the fabric, but the fit is really good (finally). I'd make it again but i'd like to rework the styling a little bit, maybe add a back yoke and make a more traditional western shirt.

Welcome to 2011!


We all made it, despite the Y2K bug coming 10 tens years late.
I got the iPhone 4 back in November, and it over-heated and froze all the time. I've been waiting nearly 4 weeks for a replacement :(.

Do I dare make some evolutions for 2011? Let's see...

- go for a jog at least once a week
- spend less (much, much less) on clothes/shoes/patterns/fabric
- get over the fear of my motorbike
- new ink
- more sewing and knitting

I have a major goal for this year - to successfully embiggen a 1954 vintage dress pattern (bust 34, hip 37) to my measurements (bust 39, hip 44), make it, and wear it to the Fifties Fair Day in August.

Butterick 6815, and I plan on making the coat to match also (I scored 8m of black and burgandy plaid taffeta on sale at Spotlight, its stunning).

How did I go with last years evolutions?
Well, I did take up knitting again, met some awesome people and succesfully dated.
The renos are on-going but we have most of a kitchen now. Didnt get any new ink.

Not too bad I reckon.

My new years eve was fantastic, good friends, good food and good music - I hope you all had a fabulous night too!
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