A day out

I have been at home a lot recently.  My work contract ended and we have been renovating madly.

But I snuck away for a haircut.  I went to Sterling Apothecary in Chippendale.  It’s really fabulous.  The decor is vintage barbershop – right down to the Bakelite power points – fantastic attention to detail.  While I was there some TV types were scoping it out to use it in an ad.

Tony Vacher cut my hair – as you can see, I’m pretty pleased with it!  He is amazing.  A very understated guy of huge talent.  He masterminded the decor of the place, and is a very experienced in “precision cutting”.

You know it’s a good haircut when you wake up the next day and boing! You run your fingers through it and you are good to go!

I am experimenting with letting a little of they grey come through, as I have been dying my hair since about 1987 and I am really over it!

Then on the way home I popped in to Spotlight, had time for a quick outfit photo in the Centre Loos! I wore my Forties Jeans

Just for a look – below are a few shots. I visited Gertie’s Fabrics, to see if any new ones had been added to the range. Didn’t find any and they were a little messy!

See that stack of infant prints?  I bought some of the diamonds.

I have been sewing some toiles, testing patterns – not ready to cut into it yet.  I will keep you posted!

              

Fifties Fair 2014 – What we wore (Or “Two Ladies for Tea”)

Hello!  I’ve been busy, a new job, a traveling husband, lots of appointments for my son, so here’s some photos of my sewing buddy Toni and I at the fabulous Fifties Fair at Rose Seidler House in Wahroonga, Sydney from August.

Full Length Shot Fifties Style Dress

We were super excited but fashionably late arriving around midday after the epic wrangling of hair and false eyelashes. Just as we had taken these first photos – down came the rain. Darn it. And whoops, our slips are showing.
 
Head and Shoulders Fifties Style Hair and Dress

Still it didn’t last long and we were at last in. Excited face.

Back View Fifties Style Dress at Fifties Fair

This is a few hours later and I feel like Lurch, trying to get up that hill in those heels, (that I had so carefully hand dyed). I was exhausted by about three pm – the terrain at the site is precarious in flats, lots of sloping driveway , the bush garden section steps, and crazy paving.

Full Length Fifties Style Dress with Vintage Car

Toni is still looking fresh on the way back to the car. I loved her colour combo of Tangerine and Teal – quite unexpected and exciting. She made her hat copying one in my collection! She also made her dress in genuine vintage rose print fabric. Check out all those tiny pleats around the neckline and sleeve hem – wow!

Full Length Fifties Style Dress with Vintage Car

But by now I am over it. My feet are killing me, the hair has flopped and I wish I had a flying car. Still, it was a fun. More photos to come…

The details.

Pattern Used: Um, I have to dig it up – it was a Princes Seamed Sixties Dress with very puffy sleeve heads. The skirt was just pleated – no pattern required
Fabric: My favorite Cotton Lycra Sateen* in a Border Print from Lincraft (this fabric was also used by Laura Ashley – for a dress sold out very quickly)
Necklace: Vintage Pink Multi- strand Pink Faux Pearls from Vinnies about 15 years ago
Shoes: Target Suede Wedges (ow!) – Plus Suede Dye
Handbag: Vintage Brown Beaded purse – Salvos $25
Belt: Self-fabric with a vintage celluloid buckle from my stash
Hat: Amazing Floral Confection from Salvos $25
Watch: Gold Marcasite Vintage Costume Watch – a present from my parents when I was a child

*I cant say enough good about sewing with this fabric. It handles so beautifully when you are sewing. It has great body and drape and looks fantastic made up! I have just sewn a dress in a quilting cotton – such hard work to make it look good.

Gertie’s Fabrics!

Hi I love Gertie’s blog and her style and it’s been wonderful to see her growing success. So yesterday (no luck) and today, I ran into Spotlight, to have a peek at Gretchen Hirsch’s brand new fabric range. Fell in love the Red Bows on the black background – I need this! I also love the Red Roses which I would love a top in – needed also! The other designs are nicely executed – the Kitschy Cats, the Cherries and the pastel Tropical Prints. Great to see the beautiful rose/polka dots border print – hallelujah! But… they are all Polyester (looks like Crepe de Chine to me). Sad face. Sure, I get that they are easy care – no ironing and all that. But even as an experienced seamstress I really have to love something to even think of sewing with the stuff. And it’s so hot to wear in an Australian summer! We need cotton!  Or maybe viscose! What are your thoughts? If these float your boat, then snap the up while they are on sale at $11.99/m 148cms wide (normally $16.99). The new book’s only $25 currently too. Congrats Gertie! IMG_8202.JPG IMG_8197.JPG Continue reading

Stamp Collecting

Did you collect stamps as a child?

I did – Mum worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs before she had my brother and I – one of her friends saved a big box of stamps and Mum planned to repackage them and sell them for the church fete!  She seemed to always get such labour intensive tasks assigned to her!

Guess who had first pick?!  I think my brother and I probably had the best collections on the street!

I spent hours looking at the stamps as a kid and imagining the far away lands.  Quite educational.

Last year at the Fifties Fair there were a few lengths of fabric printed with stamps designs which I had never seen before.  They were, as most things at that event, quite pricey so I held back and didn’t buy anything.  So I have now spend the past year dreaming about stamp fabric!

This year there was very little fabric for sale, probably due to the rain – disappointingly.

So thrilled to find this stamp print at Spotlight recently!   And at just $8 per metre.  It reminds me of that time as a child and the stamps are vintage, not like some other similar fabrics currently available.

Can’t wait to make it up – perfect for yet another Fifties Style Novelty Skirt!

Vintage Australian Stamp with Crocodile

Vintage Australian Stamp with Crocodile

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Fabric Printed with Vintage Stamps - French Stamp picturing the Arc de Triomphe

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Fifties repro fabric – an unlikely source

If you are in the market for reproduction fifties style fabric, perhaps a source you haven’t considered is right under your nose – your local quilting shop.

Admittedly, I live pretty close to one of the best in Australia’s: Material Obsession, at Drummoyne.  Their selection is mouthwatering.

Here are a few things I spotted in there recently that I thought might work for fifties style garments.  I didn’t take any notes about the fabrics, all I can say is get in there fast as they sell out fast and not always reordered, so the lovely lady who helped me could tell me.

I was extremely lucky to find the scarlet print with the bows was still in stock – I have been dreaming about it since the last time I visited – months ago.   I think it will be perfect in a blouse like Butterick 4985.

If you are in Sydney’s Western Suburbs I recommend Fred the Needle – I haven’t visited them in their new location in Dural – but their Penrith store was fabulous.

If you have a good one one near you – I would love to hear about it.

Also if you have tried sewing garments with quilting fabric and how that went.  Thanks.

It’s the second week of the school holidays and I just heard the little guy say, as he tumbled around the living room “I can feel my brain moving” – had better go.

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The “I Love You” Apron

I am dedicating this weeks sewing to my husband of thirteen years, Mark.

He is so great.  He is a humble man.  He takes our marriage seriously.  I appreciate how hard-working and responsible he is and how he loves our boys.  That I was able to stay home with them for seven years and that we have a lovely home.  He doesn’t mind my mad op shopping and the mess in the sewing room.  Well, he minds sometimes!

Waiting for my man

He works really hard as a Tiler – making other people’s homes absolutely beautiful.  Those tiles behind me he did them – aren’t they great!?  And he let me have exactly what I wanted – to go with our recycled country-style kitchen that I designed.  I had to wait a long time for him to do them but it was worth the wait!

Last time I made one of these novelty aprons I swore never to make another one!  But how irresistible are the hearts?  And it seemed like the perfect use of this Cherry Print fabric that has a quite a clichéd fifties look to my eyes now, but that I adored when I bought it a couple of years ago.  It was good to use up some of the pink Ric-Rac in my stash and the Rose Print and  that was left over from my “Coming Up Roses” Gypsy Blouse, which is still one of my favourite items of clothing.

Sorry about the heavily airbrushed legs and fake tan.  No, actually  I’m not!  This week I learn how to do that on Pic Monkey (photo editing software) – I might get them out again for you!
Let’s see if he reads this:  “I love you Bubba!”

The “Baz and Catherine” Flapper Dress

The Facts

Fabric: Cotton Foulard from Spotlight $40

Pattern: 5700 from an unknown company 50 cents

Year: Circa 1980’s

Notions: Art deco glass diamante buttons from the stash.

Time to complete: 4 hours

First worn:  For the photos

Wear Again?:  Saving it for Bali, Indonesia

I wasn’t going to bother taking part in the Sew Weekly’s Gatsby week for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, my idea of Gatsby fashion is skewed more 20’s than the 30’s frocks Mena and her friends wear to the Gatsby Weekend.  I feel I know almost nothing about 1930’s fashion except for bias cut satin evening gowns, and there is no way I am going there!

Secondly, there is nothing less flattering that a drop gathered waist on a woman with heavy hips and thighs.

However,  the Sew Weekly contributors’ efforts for Gatsby Week were so inspiring that I thought I’d have a crack at it!  Also, a few months ago, scenes from The Great Gatsby movie were shot at St Patricks Seminary in Manly  – half an hour away from my house in Sydney – what an opportunity!  With a house full of international guests – I was keen to work in a little photo shoot to a spot of sightseeing with coffee!  The stars aligned, I found cloche hat, and I even managed to get my hair bobbed in time for the photos!

The Seminary can be seen early on in the trailer, with its ivy covered walls, it has undergone a dramatic transformation into a castle in post production!

I was thinking of buying the famous 1920’s One-Hour Flapper Dress but I am too stingy to pay for what is a very simple pattern!  So a few weeks ago I was pleased to find this very ugly-looking 80’s dress.  I thought it would probably work – when you have been patternmaking and sewing for years, you develop the skill of being able to see how the pattern pieces go together and what they will look like.  Beginner sewers – take heart, this takes time.  This patterns wins the prize goes for worst pattern illustration ever.  I saw that there were no shoulder pads to give that exaggerated shoulder line and I knew it wouldn’t sit like that, or do I just have broad shoulders!?  I eliminated the centre front button placket and cut it in one piece.

I extended the sleeves, following the angle they were on, and sewed just to the end of my shoulders.   All the edges and hems were sewn with rolled hems.  I wanted a floaty sleeve, with an open top arm seam.  We are going to Bali next year.  The Balinese are unimpressed by the display of armpits – I hope this dress will be acceptable – light  floaty and no visible underarm! I finished them with a pair of little art deco glass diamante buttons from the stash.

A trick for minimizing the hippage, I recommend is to give it a good press, with the focus on the gathers.  I wanted them to sit flat – rather than billowing out – adding volume where none was welcome.

This fabric was wonderful to sew – it is a very fine twill weave – perhaps a foulard.  I realize that the fabric is more 50’s in feel than any other era- but that is my thing isn’t it!

My dad took the photos for this shoot.  We were up against it.  It was windy again and the camera’s display is broken – so he really couldn’t see a thing – He did pretty well though and was very patient to take 250 photos!!  Mum was great  at directing the photo shoot.  Thanks Mum and Dad!

I am sure you know that Australian Film Maker Baz Luhrmann, Director, and his wife Catherine Martin, Production Designer, are creative collaborators in this movie.  Baz with his amazing vision and kooky musical inspiration and Catherine with her incredible attention to detail – I salute you.

The “I know it’s silly” Dress

My reality is that I don’t really have anywhere to wear a LBD, or a BBD in my case given that I am a size 16 and just under 5’10 (175cms).

The reality is that I have a tonne of washing to do every week.  My husband is a tiler – he gets absolutely filthy every day.  You can imagine, dust from cutting hundreds of tiles, glue, grout and building site filth come home with him.

We have two washing machines and two clothes lines.  Don’t forget the two boys.  My laundry mountain is only obliterated a couple of time a year!

So I was thinking about how silly it was that I was prancing about my courtyard taking these photos, with my clothesline in the background – mocking me with its “I’ll be seeing you later!”, while wearing my big black 50’s dress with it big petticoat underneath.

But you know what?  After weeks of fulfilling everyone else’s expectations of me – two weeks of running the kids around for the holidays, one day spent at the hospital after Noah had a terrific trampolining accident and put a tooth through his face (he’s all better, now thanks to the plastic surgeons), it felt good to do something for me.

This was a UFO – I think I started it first four years ago – it was my the first attempt using a 50’s pattern   I decided I would use some of the wool that had sat around since my student days – and that yes, it would be a great idea to use some for a toile!  Lookey, lookey – perfect fit – love that!

This has become my favourite dress pattern  and I have made a the skirt many times (omitting the front pleat).

The best thing about this dress IMHO is the “Bosum” piece, it is a Crescent shaped piece which is gathered and gives you a little “more” in that area if you are lacking!! The skirt also covers all my flaws. The little cap sleeves are kind to plump arms. I believe it is the perfect dress for pear shaped women!

To finish it I had to overlock all the seams, insert the zip, and bind the neckline and sleeves.  I did the binding in a Cotton Lycra Sateen – it’s not sitting quite flat – but I can live with it.

Thanks to my lovely friend and sewing buddy, Toni for help with the hem – we decided we should buy one of those chalk puffer hemming devices.

The 1950’s Whimsey I am wearing is a present from my friend Rozie, she bought it for me on my Birthday from Mint Condition for $25 – bit of a bargain. I love the little birds on the veil.
So now I have a black dress on standby for any occasion – not silly at all is it?

The Facts

Fabric: Wool from stash from a million years ago and some Cotton Lycra Sateen $14.95/m

Pattern: McCalls 9400

Year:  1950’s

Notions: Zip

Time to complete: It’s been years!

First worn: For the photos

Wear again: Can’t wait

Total Cost: I’m calling it nothing

Australiana and Americana

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How great is this fabric?! I saw it recently in Lincraft. I am into indigenous art forms in a huge way.

It feels very 50’s to me, with it’s dull, earthy colour palette.

It was $14.99 a metre and I had to leave it there at that price – as I had a little splurge on Esty last night. Just a few U.S. accessories for my 50’s Fair outfit. I really hope it’s warm! I froze last year!

They had a whole story in this theme – for the quilters.

Have you noticed that these type of prints languish in shops for a while?

Cultural cringe perhaps?

Now I am kicking myself for not getting a metre or four!

Will have to be content with a string of small parcels arriving in the mail from the States right!?

The “Magpies and Blue Skies” Skirt

During the middle of my photo shoot – i.e. me with camera set on self-timer and using a chair on the trampoline as a tripod, a magpie broke into my house. My youngest son was panicking and screaming as it flapped about trying to get out – I opened a latch on a window and shoved the glass, but the window was stuck so I broke the glass and knocked over a vase of flowers!   He made such mess pooing (the bird not my son) from one end of the house to the other, on the carpet, on a book, on clean washing!  Argghh I could have wrung his neck!  Luckily I didn’t cut myself and there was no serious damage.

So I am not smiling in these photo – I am fuming!

I bet you are fuming too because, guess what – I have made this boring skirt three times!

Oh yes, and it’s even a UFO so all I had to do was take off the too small waist band and re-attach because its taken me making this skirt three times to work out what my waist measurement is!

We are careering towards the end of the kids second term and we are tired! I work three days during school hours and there are speeches for 6 year olds (ridiculous right??) and projects for 9 year olds. The laundry is piling up around the place and its been wet all week so it is taking over our living spaces!  Oh yes and my husband is at work for the twelfth day straight!  First world problems right?!

Being grateful helps me when I am whining so here goes; I have a garden where Birds of Paradise are in  flower, the Sydney sky was blue for the first time in days, for the photos, my camera has a self-timer and this skirt is finally finished.

I really like that print. It is the exact colour palette of one of my Dads 1960’s Hawaiian shirts that I used to wear when I was a teenager. It was a remnant so I didn’t have enough to make a dress and I wasn’t even able to piece together a top, despite quite a bit of time spend trying – which is probably why I abandoned this for 6 months – hours of sewing getting me nowhere is incredibly off-putting.

I might get some laces for some platform shoes from the scraps – we’ll see.

If I were going on a lovely tropical holiday or a Tiki Party  – this is the kind of thing I’d like to wear.  Dreams are free!

Oh and I found a tripod at an op shop for $12 this week – score!

The Facts
Fabric: 3m Cotton Lycra Sateen at $12.99 per metre
Pattern: Skirt from McCalls 9400 – without pleat/underlay
Year: 1950’s
Notions: Zip, Button, Waistband interfacing
Time to complete: 4 hours includes unpicking
First worn: For the photos
Wear again? Yes, a lot I think
Total Cost: $39