Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Melbourne Open House - Part 1

Melbourne Open House began in 2008, with eight buildings open to the public and over 30,000 visitors across the day. This weekend saw MOH, now in its fifth year, open one hundred spaces including commercial, residential and green buildings, as well as places of worship and sporting grounds.

After a marathon effort last year, there were only a few buildings on this year's list I was interested in visiting. It was not good weather for being out on foot - the winds here are unbelievably icy at the moment, thank the Gods for my trusty earmuffs! - and luckily, there were very few queues.

The first building I wanted to see was the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. This fairly unassuming looking building has always caught my eye and it was nice to finally see what's inside. Completed in 1939, the building originally used by Australian Army Medical Corps Drill Hall, and still retains much of its original Art Deco features.

Art Deco details in the entrance foyer.

Decorative vents and brickwork on the exterior.
They're currently showing an exhibition entitled 'Melbourne Theatres in Transition' which features photographs, programs and other memorabilia from the 1840s - 1940s. It was surprisingly interesting. Melbourne had an impressive number of theatres over the hundred year period.

A scrapbook of reviews kept by the actress Rose Edouin.

The Regal Theatre was located on the corner of Toorak & Camberwell roads;
it was demolished in 1965.

Burt & Pete's Barber Shop wasn't on the list of MOH buildings, but we couldn't help dropping in when Peter himself motioned to us through the window. This tiny little shop in Little Lonsdale St has been a barber shop for many years and is so wonderfully old skool. The shop is normally closed on weekends but Pete was happy to come to work after a desperate phone call from a regular customer. Now that's customer service!

Pete the Barber in action.

Being easily distracted as I am, I spied this shabby looking warehouse building down a small side street off Flinders St. and had to investigate. As you can see, some of the mouldings are damaged, but it's currently up for lease if anyone fancies giving it a bit of TLC.

Alkira House, 18 Queens St, Melbourne.
Alkira House was built in 1937 and was originally used as an office building. Pretty swish, huh? Can you imagine how amazing it must have looked in its heyday? Today it is the home of twelve boutique serviced and self-contained apartments which have recently been refurbished.

The Rendezvous Grand Hotel is another building I have admired from afar, and although I would have liked to have seen more than the downstairs bar and foyer, I wasn't prepared to wait in the queue for a tour. Time was running out and there were other things to see. No matter, the terrazzo tiled floor of the Grand Vestibule and Art Nouveau gum leaf detail on the ceiling were enough to keep me happy.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Melbourne Open House - Part 2, 
you guys are gonna love it!

- Tamara 

Monday, 30 July 2012

Cocktails in the Forbidden Temple

It seems like forever since I've had a night out, so when I received an invitation from a friend to go see a band on Saturday night, I didn't have to think twice about saying yes. The band was on at 8.30pm - early, for a change - so we decided to head off early and grab a bite to eat beforehand.

Dining out options in the far outer suburbs are fairly limited, so we always take the opportunity to eat decent Asian food when we travel in to the city. I booked a table at a Malaysian restaurant in Brunswick St, knowing they tend to be fairly speedy with their service, just in case we had to eat and run.  It seems they've adopted a more relaxed approach since my last visit; thankfully the food is still excellent 'cause we pretty much missed the band's entire set!.

I wasn't too disappointed though, our next stop was a bar I'd been keen to check out for a while - The LuWow. 

The Forbidden Temple bar.
The LuWow is a fairly new Tiki/Exotica/Island themed bar in Johnson St, Fitzroy. The decor really has to be seen to be believed and upon entering you feel like you've stepped into a wonderful, fantasy land! The atmosphere is fantastic; management seem to cap patronage to avoid over-crowding and they have a lock-out policy after midnight. I have to say, it certainly made for a much nicer environment.

There are two different rooms at The LuWow:

The Island Village offers shady booths in individual huts, exotic sounds, table service and the relaxed tempo of a South Seas holiday. It also feature a traditional Polynesian bar and there are even tikis available for purchase. 

Creative use of The Forbidden Temple decor.

The Forbidden Temple is described as: 'a feast of exotica with claws! Lost in a dark steamy jungle, ablaze with precious jewels and terrible idols a ruined pagan palace beats to the sound of Bongos and lost vinyl rhapsodies.' Tropical rum cocktails abound and fringe-clad 'Go-Go Goddesses' flank the stage. Shake it girls, shake it!!

A serious looking Mdblm - it was his turn to drive.

Vintage poster in the entrance hall.

The Ladies & I enjoying a cocktail.
The Ladies and I danced away a few cobwebs to the obscure 50s tunes busted out by the DJ, while the boys talked car-building projects and minded our seats. They're so good like that. A fun night was had by all and Mdblm and I fell into bed 'round 3am! That's a fair effort for us oldies.

Ladies, we really must do this more often.
Here's cheers!

- Tamara

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Merrily We Roll Along

My 1940s blouse is really beginning to test my patience. I've probably got at least an hours hand sewing left to do, some of which is of my own choosing.

Although I've overlocked all the seams, I needed a tidy way to finish off the ties so I decided it was high time I gave the rolled hem a go. It's a technique I've seen many other sewers use and it creates a lovely, professional looking finish, but I've always been afraid to give it a go. Turns out, my fears were completely unfounded.

First, I folded the edges up roughly 1/8th of an inch, then folded it again and pinned it to make the nice, flat edge you can see above.

The next step is to lower the needle into the fabric, lower the foot and sew a couple of stitches to anchor the thread. Keeping the needle through the fabric, lift the foot and insert the folded portion into the curl of the hemmer foot. Lower the foot and sew, lifting the edge of the fabric to keep it feeding smoothly and evenly. Too easy!

I was so pleased with myself, I went crazy and sewed a rolled hem on all the visible edges. Unfortunately, I didn't take into account how much fabric was going into the hem and it ended up eating up most of the fluffiness out of my bow.

The pattern envelope suggests the bow should be 'as feminine as a sigh', mine now looked more like a wheeze. The lovely, puffy bow was the main thing that drew me to this blouse, that and the unusual slanted yoke, and now it was too thin. Time to do some unpicking.

This project hasn't been all bad though, I've managed to conquer another sewing technique during the process. I've always hated having to use the 'slash' method to make back neck or sleeve openings, simply because I could never get it nice and flat. Not so anymore...

The problem was, once I had sewn the reinforcing V-shape and cut down into it, I wasn't cutting far enough. I was so afraid of cutting right through the end and ruining it that I stopped short. This time, I found myself a small pair of embroidery scissors and snipped right down into the point, leaving only a couple of threads intact. I then folded the facing piece inside, and would you look at that? It worked!!

 Huzzah!! That's two new sewing skills to add to my repertoire.
Now, back to my hand stitching...

- Tamara

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Do you Putaruru?

I've a whole heap of hand-sewing left to do on my 1940s blouse, so I thought I'd share some pics of a lovely little Art Deco hotel we stumbled upon while on holiday in New Zealand.

Primarily, we were visiting the North Island for the 2010 'Beach Hop' - a Hot Rodding event - but I had also heard tell of Art Deco treasures dotted throughout the county side. So, one sunny morning we set out in our unexciting hire car to see what we could see.

On our mad rush to nowhere, I caught many a glimpse of cute little houses, angular council buildings and even a bus stop, but by the time I had shouted "STOP!", it was far too late. As someone with a keen eye for Deco detail, it would have made much more sense for me to drive.

Thankfully, we pulled over in the small town of Putaruru to make ourselves some lunch and literally, right across the street from where we parked, was this little gem...

Putaruru Hotel, NZ.
Oh, wonder of wonders! Can't you just imagine 1930s holiday-makers swanning about the lawn in their floaty loungewear and giant sun hats?

The door to the hotel itself was locked so I wandered around to the front bar in the hope of finding someone who could let me in. I've never been backwards in coming forwards, so I strolled on up to the bar and simply asked if there was any way I could take a look around the hotel. The lunch 'rush' appeared to be over, so the barman was more than happy to let me in through the bistro.

The Putaruru Hotel appears to have been refurbished since my visit,
so if you're passing through, do stop in for a quick tipple.


- Tamara

Friday, 20 July 2012

Fashionable Friday

Now that I'm on the mend, I've managed to get the second sleeve on my 1940s blouse but it's still slow going. I am hoping to do some more work on it this weekend, but in the meantime, let's take a look at some more winter-warming styles from The Weekly Times Magazine Section.

Have a good weekend!

- Tamara

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

'Tis the Sneezin'

Well, it's finally happened. Despite my best efforts, I've managed to get myself a cold. It's the first one of the season - if there is such a thing as flu season - and while it's nowhere near as bad as any I had last year, I've barely been able to get out of bed for the last five days.
Needless to say, there's been next to nothing creative going on here to speak of. I tried to sew but could only manage a sleeve seam on the blouse I'm working on before I needed to lie down. It's so close to being finished too.

Here's where I'm up to...

Sorry for the lack of inspiration but I've really not felt up to it. Thankfully, I'm starting feel a bit better and am hoping to back before week's end.

- Tamara

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Judgement Day

After all my new acquisitions last week, I'm proud to announce I have used two pieces of fabric from my stash in the last few weeks. You may recall the 'Ugly or Awesome' dress from a couple of weeks ago - the 1940s Vogue pattern to made from a crazy, vintage style fabric I'd been sitting on for a few years? Well, it's done and I still love it!

Here's a quick refresher of my pattern - Vogue 6044.

This 1940s dress has every thing I love about Vogue patterns - A simple design; clean, classic lines; and just look at the stylish darts at the shoulders. Wonderful!

Very few alterations were needed and I barely glanced at the instructions, it was that easy. That said, I am a full bust size smaller than my pattern and although I made allowances for the difference when I cut it out, there was still quite a lot loose fabric under the arms. No problem, I just took in the side seams of the bodice and cut off the excess.

Notice how the darts are nice and flat in the first pic and then in the above they're all wavy? I can't quite work out what happened there. I think I may have stretched the fabric while I was sewing the darts. I did unpick a couple and resew them but it didn't make much of a difference. I figure I can always tack them down if they bother me that much.

I made a bit of mess of the first button hole, - they're bound and I had to it three times before I got it right - I think that's why it sticks out a little at the top. A little press-stud should fix that.

As you can see, I'm pretty pleased with the result; Mdblm still hates the fabric.
What do you think? Is it ugly or awesome?

- Tamara

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Wild About Wool

Readers, I've been a very bad girl these last few days; despite being on an extremely frugal budget, I've been shopping again. It wasn't intentional, when I see a 'SALE' sign I just can't help myself.

Last Friday, I made a quick trip to Spotlight to find some buttons for a 1940s blouse I'm working on. I was short on time so I made sure to divert my eyes from the clearance table. But when my button hunt was unsuccessful, I figured I could fit in a quick rummage. To my delight, it had recently been restocked and was piled high with potential treasures.

With winter coats at the forefront of my mind, I quickly glanced over the printed cottons and other light-weight fabrics left over from summer - nothing there for me. Then I spied a large roll of dark navy wool which had been reduced to $6 metre. I could make a full length coat for less than $20! Let's see what else they have...

Over in the suiting section, I found the rest of the range and it too was reduced. It was too good a bargain to not take advantage - this stuff is 80% wool and normally $20 a metre - plus The Stash could do with a bit more wool. 

I now have 1.5m of each of the hounds-tooth and brown picnic blanket weave and 2.5m of the navy for a full length coat (fingers crossed!). I bought the red & black weave back in April when they had 40%. I dislike having to pay full price for anything.

My Marc Jacobs wool was also washed over the weekend and is now lovely and soft and whispering my name. I've a couple of patterns in my collection which might work but with only 0.8m to work with I'm likely to only be able to make a bolero with long sleeves. Is that a fashion faux pas - long sleeves on a short jacket? Here's the pattern I'm considering...

Simplicity 3463.
As for the other new pieces of fabric, I've a few ideas floating around in my head but nothing that's inspiring me enough to get cutting.

My name is Tamara and I'm a fully functioning fabric addict.
Are there any others out there? Put your hands up, there's no shame in it.

- Tamara

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


As I mentioned on Monday, I've completed a few sewing projects in the last couple of weeks and today I want to talk about the multi-era skirt. It was something which was supposed to be quick and simple but turned into a bit of a saga.

A couple of weeks ago, while fossicking in Spotlight for some black tracksuit material, I came across a lost and lonely piece of black stretch drill. It was roughly 90cm (150w) and being a random piece of fabric, they sold it to me as a remnant - only $4.50! Little black skirt here we come...

Simplicity 3188

Somewhat foolishly, I chose the skirt from this 1930s suit pattern I have in my collection. I think it was because I've some fabric in my stash to make the jacket and a black skirt would complete the outfit. 

So keen was I to get  started, I didn't notice my stretch drill wasn't on the suggested fabrics list. You can see where this is going, can't you? The suggested fabrics are wool crepe, velvet, etc, basically all floppy materials; the stretch drill has the drape of a piece of cardboard. Needless to say my skirt looked ridiculous! It stuck out like a giant A-frame and was nowhere near the nice, general purpose skirt I had pictured. It was time for a re-think...

New York 923
Once unpicked, I would still have enough fabric to re-cut my 30s disaster into the something more suited to the fabric. By all appearances, this late 40s Louise Scott Creation would do the job nicely. The only major change I would need to make is the addition of a back seam - the 30s skirt has two panels in back and this one should be cut on the fold. No problem, easy peasy!

That said, there was something else I was going to have to work around...


Take a look at the shape of the skirt pieces; there is no way those sloped side seams will create a tapered skirt when sewn together! No way in the world. If you think about it, it will create the opposite effect - yet another stiff A-frame! Having encountered this problem before, I pulled out my trusty Route 66 pencil skirt and basically traced the shape of the tapering onto the inside of my skirt using chalk. Once again, not very accurate but boy does it ever work.


You can see from the photo that I didn't quite taper it the as much as the Route 66 skirt, I needed to allow room for the lining. In the end, I think cut a good three inches off the side seam at the hem. That would be those stupid pointy end pieces of the original pattern.

So, several patterns and a dash of freestyle sewing later, I've managed to turn this incredibly trying project into the multi-purpose skirt I set out to make. Phew!


BTW - How cute is my t-shirt? I picked it up at Target a couple of weeks ago for $10 and remodelled it to suit. Originally, it had a deep scoop neckline, way too low for me, and the adorable little bow was attached to a useless pocket. I carefully unpicked the pocket and removed the bow for later use. The shoulder seams were then unpicked and roughly half an inch was taken out of the front to create a higher neckline. Woohoo! Another dodgy experiment pays off!

The addition of this skirt to my wardrobe also means I finally have something to wear with my Freddies of Pinewood top. Yay!!

- Tamara

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Fabric Store

While I was in Fitzroy last week, I made sure I had time to squeeze in a visit to The Fabric Store.

The Fabric Store has stores in both Australia and New Zealand, and they pride themselves on stocking top quality designer dress fabrics, with a strong focus on natural fibres. It would be a great place to shop if you knew what you were looking for, but for a new visitor who was browsing, I found it a bit daunting. Good quality fabrics scare me.

The Melbourne store has roll upon roll of beautiful fabrics arranged into heavenly colour-coded displays; silk chiffons and georgettes, linens and satins, not to mention their new range of New Zealand merino knits -so lovely and soft. I admit I was tempted, but at nearly $50 a metre, and with no project in mind, I really couldn't justify the expense. Such a shame, just look at the awesome colours that are available! What a great way to brighten a dull, rainy day!

There are plenty more fabrics to choose from though, and at surprisingly reasonable prices. It just depends on what takes your fancy. Cottons range from $10 - $22 per metre; woollens are in the range of $20 - $48 p/m; linens are $15 - $30 p/m; and rayon is $12 - $18 p/m. Very reasonable indeed.

And of course, try as I might, I did end up buying something...

With winter in full swing here, keeping warm is high on my sewing priority list and lately I've found my thoughts turning to jackets. The lovely charcoal-based plaid at the top right of the photo caught my eye as soon as I walked in - it's a Marc Jacobs designer wool and once again, nearly $50 p/m. I have expensive tastes.

Then, while sifting through the remenants pile, I came across an 80cm piece of exactly the same fabric for $19! What can I say but SOLD! The width is 155cm, so with some careful planning I should be able to make some sort of jacket out of it.

Fingers crossed!

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