Thursday, 13 December 2012

Feelin' Old Skool

Last month my was 20 year high school reunion - yes, I am that old - and while some people approach these events with dread, I was really looking forward to it. There were a lot of people I had lost touch with over the years and some I had not seen at all; I was excited to be able to reconnect with some of these long-lost friends.
This beautiful woman and I have been friends since primary school. Our friendship has endured for nearly thirty years and although we don't speak often, when we do, it's like it was yesterday. It's been ages since we've had a night out together, and what a night it was!
We danced like we were teenagers again, toasting to memorable moments from our past, and before we knew it the night had ended, be it all too soon. It was wonderful to reconnect with the people I grew up with, not to mention the new friends I made; we may have grown older but deep down, people have generally remain unchanged.
While the reunion has got me reminiscing about the old days, it has also inspired a new sewing project!
Advance 2754.
Here in Melbourne, summer has been making its presence felt and I found myself longing for a comfortable, yet fun, all-purpose dress. This adorable 1930s tennis/day dress - Advance 2754 - was the perfect solution and, in honour of my old school days, I chose a blue and black tartan that has been in my stash since last summer.
As has been my previous experiences with Advance patterns, it fitted poorly and require a fair bit of adjusting of the seams. Besides having to double the seam allowance, it went together really quickly and is extremely comfortable to wear. Mission complete.
Anyone for tennis?
Look how well the button matches!
It also goes really well with my new umbrella!
Our first outing - the Costume Shop sale!
Hello new go-to dress for summer!
I think we will be spending a whole lot of time together from now on.

- Tamara

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Playing Dress-Ups

I am one of those people who like to read the classifieds/auction section of the newspaper on a Saturday; you'd be amazed at the weird and wonderful things that come up for sale. A couple of weeks ago, I spied an ad for a costume company sale and made a note of it in my diary so as not to forget.
What a sale it was!! The Costume Factory in Kensington is preparing to move to another site and they are selling off a crazy amount of stuff. There are wigs, hats, shoes, theatre company and former hire costumes, a whole heap of suiting fabrics, pieces of theatre sets and even an industrial overlocker!
They were offering giant plastic shopping bags as you entered the warehouse, but I declined so as to avoid over-shopping. The prices were extremely cheap so it would have been easy far too easy to get carried away.
There were quite a few costumes from the J.C Williamson Company, which was formed in 1904 and controlled a network of theatres across Australia and New Zealand. They organised successful tours by Dame Nellie Melba and Anna Pavlova in the 1920s and later brought the Ballets Russes and the Bolshoi Ballet to Australia.
Australian readers will recognise this guy...
This lady gave me a giggle - a hat with feathers and a pair of legs sticking out the bottom. The hat she had scored was in amazing condition and one of the staff even filled her in on its history.
Below are my two purchases: a pair of military jackets. I had just watched 'Easy Virtue' (for the umpteenth time) - the thirties fashions in it are divine - so when I saw the white jacket, I knew I had to take it home. It was a bit grotty but I stuck in the wash when I came home and it came up a treat. Not bad for $20!  
The khaki jacket, I picked up for only $5! It's in reasonably good condition - there's a small hole in the front pocket and a few wear marks - but there's nothing that can't be repaired.
There is one more day of the sale remaining - Wednesday 12th Dec from 9.30 - 5pm - and all stock must be sold. So, if you're in Melbourne and you've some spare time tomorrow, get down to the Costume Factory at 290 Macauley Rd, Kensington and grab a bargain.
- Tamara

Friday, 16 November 2012

Coat of so Much Comfort

And, here is my lovely new coat dress! I must say, lining up all those button holes nearly killed me but it was well worth the effort. I didn't end up using the vintage buttons I found at Buttonfest - they were too large - but I managed to find some suitable ones in Lincraft.

Those of you with a sharp eye will notice there appears to be a button missing, I forgot to do it up! Unfortunately I didn't notice 'till we were done and there was no way I was going to take the photos again, so just pretend they're all there.

The welted pockets are not all that functional. They're placed a little high to put your hands in for any length of time but they will come in handy for carrying little things.
The tab collar is just one of the many things I love about this dress. To begin with it was a little too bulky for the button to fasten properly - it needed to hold down six layers of fabric! I ended up using a large press stud to keep the neck closed, sewed the button on the outside and the tabs now sit perfectly. Too easy!!

Oooh, just look how the back skirt swishes!

 My 50s coat dress is so comfortable; it's likely to become the 'go to' outfit for outings on cooler days. And, being spring in Melbourne, I may just end up getting to wear it a few more times before the warm weather sets in. Fingers crossed!
- Tamara

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Making it Work

Several weeks ago now, I was browsing Ebay late one night when I came across a pattern for a button front coat dress. While I have my Bernie Dexter flasher coat  pattern, this one required much less fabric - roughly three metres, which I had in my stash.

Simplicity 4427
It took just over a week to ship from the US and believe it or not, I cut it out the very same day! I can't explain why, the pattern itself is not that spectacular and now the weather is getting warmer, the opportunities to wear a fully lined coat dress are diminishing.
My chosen fabric was a medium weight, wool-blend I scored for a song at Spotlight several years ago. It was originally intended for more of my 40s caplets, but I got tired of making them after sewing three and put the leftover fabric back in the stash.

As you can see, there was a lot left over.
This fabric has been great to work with, although it does fray quite a bit which means a whole lot of overlocking. I've read it's not necessary to finish inside seams if you're going to line a garment but the lining for this dress isn't attached at the bottom and I had visions of bits falling off everywhere I went.

The back pleat in the skirt was a little tricky but the only real issue I had making this dress was working out how to put the lining in. You see, there's a nifty design feature in back which helps the skirt sit out, a support strap of sorts, unfortunately it's joined in the centre back. How to get the lining to sit underneath it....?

Time to get out the unpicker! 
After a bit of puzzling, I decided to leave a slit on either side of the lining and pass the main dress pieces through.

I then refastened the main pieces and hand stitched the lining in place.
Problem solved!
Long-time readers will know just how much I hate button holes - there are ten down the front of this dress and they were supposed to be bound! No freakin' way was that going to happen, regular button holes would have to do. I was so particular about the spacing that I managed to bugger it up and had to resew all the button holes below the waistline. Thankfully, my fabric is very forgiving and they're barely noticeable, unless you're looking for them.

Marcel was tired of button holes too.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the finished project, but until then here's a sneak peak...

- Tamara

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Old Fashioned Love Songs

Has anyone else noticed how fast the days are going by now we're approaching the end of the year? So much to do, so little time... I've quite a bit of catching up to do on the blog front; there have been several outings to report and even a bit of sewing. Time's a wasting so let's get to it!
I've been a huge fan of the Canadian chanteuse Jill Barber since discovering her music back in 2009. My former workplace used to have staff sales of CDs and books which had been sent in for review, the proceeds of which were then donated to charity. When I spied 'Chances' among the offerings, it was love at first site.

I had no idea what the music was like but judging by the cover art, it was likely to be to my taste. Boy, was I ever right. From the moment the I heard the first couple of notes of the intro, I was hooked Listening to this collection of songs, it is amazing to think they are all original compositions. The sweeping strings and dramatic orchestrations combined with Jill's unmistakable voice takes one back to kinder, gentler times. She captures the feeling of times gone by; to quote one reviewer: 'she has a voice that stops time'.
You can imagine my excitement then, when I discovered I would finally get the chance to see Jill perform live. She was touring Australia for the release of her most recent album 'Mischievous Moon' and Melbourne was the final show. Woohoo!! The venue, Bennetts Lane, is nice and intimate and is billed as a 'listening venue' so patrons are respectful and keep quiet while the artist is performing. It was refreshing to be able to go to a gig and hear the entire performance for a change.

The first half of Jill's set featured mainly songs from 'Chances', she sang all my favourites first which pleased me no end. Then it was time for a costume change for the lounge era sound of 'Mischievous Moon'.

I had been dying to hear Jill sing live and it was everything I had hoped for and more. She sounded even better live than the recordings and was genuinely appreciative of the audience taking the time to listen to her songs; she has been writing songs since she was a teenager. She was even gracious enough to stick around and sign CDs after the show - I took my copies of both her albums for just such an occasion. 

Once again, I managed to get an extremely very flattering photo of myself with an artist I admire - damn you  'Self-portrait' setting! Thankfully Jill was patient enough with me to allow a couple more goes and I managed to one decent one of the two of us - even if my boof-head takes up most of the frame.
If you've not heard Jill Barber's music, you can listen to tracks on her website.
She really is lovely.
- Tamara

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy New Year!

I've been feeling strangely spiritual this week so please bare with me,
normal transmission will resume shortly.

Celtic tradition begins the Wheel of the Year at Samhain (Halloween), commencing a season of darkness where the veil between the worlds are at their thinnest and the souls of those departed can commune with those in this world. It is a time of assessment, of making the final arrangements that will help the village survive the winter.
Samhain is also a time of introspection, a time to acknowledge our weaknesses and divest ourselves of traits we no longer need. Let go of past failures and sadness, banish fear and prepare for renewal and good fortune. The winter may be long and harsh, but the Son will rise again.
It is tradition on Samhain night to leave a plate of food outside the home for the souls of the dead. A candle placed in the window guides them to the lands of eternal summer, and burying an apple in the earth 'feeds' the passed ones on their journey.
Blessed Be!
- Tamara

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Be a Saver, not a Spender

As I mentioned yesterday, there weren't enough sewing related stalls at the Love Vintage Summer Show for my liking but, surprise, surprise, I still managed to buy something.
Australian Home Journal, April 1st, 1946.

The seller I purchased this April 1946 edition of the Australian Home Journal from had loads of these for sale - in varying condition and she even had multiple copies, which is almost unheard of. They all came complete with their patterns but were sealed so you couldn't get a look at the condition inside.
Ordinarily, I don't like to spend more than $10 on these magazines, especially if I don't get the chance to woman-handle it first, so $18 for this one was a bit excessive. But look at that dress on the left! Would you have been able to resist?
While the quality of the inside pages left a lot to be desired, I did happen upon a couple of lovely knitting patterns and adverts I'd like to share with you guys. 
Even though the weather here is on the improve,
I want one of these two-tone jumpers!
It's so freakin' cute!!
This is the rest of the instructions for both the blouse and jumper
should anyone out there want to knit one up.
Oh, and before I forget, this was what I wore to the Show (sans hat).
 My all time favourite dress; a Madeleine Faith design from Saks Fifth Avenue.
It cost me a small fortune but it was well worth it, it fits like it was made for me.
¡ QuĂ© belleza!
- Tamara


Monday, 15 October 2012

Summer Lovin'?

I had hoped to do this post last week, but things got crazy 'round here - several unexpected visitors, evening activities and the like - and before I knew it, the week had disappeared.
Last weekend was the Summer edition of the Love Vintage Show, you may recall the winter show was held in mid-May. I hadn't intended on going this time, but the weather turned nasty and all outdoor plans for the weekend were abandoned. Plus, we had nothing better to do.  
Although I had been assured there would be more stalls at the Summer Fair, things really weren't all that different from the previous one. The sellers were all still crowded up one end of the building and there only seemed to be one or two new stalls. I don't know, maybe it's all starting to look the same. There were also some sellers who were super-protective of their merchandise with regard to taking photos - I was very nearly crash-tackled by one when I tried to snap a pic of a pretty dress! Poor form I say, it's never been a problem before.
Thankfully, not everyone was that militant...
An adorable take on the vintage poodle brooch by Erstwilder.
Gorgeous vintage inspired head wear by Dandy Long Legs.
More divine creations from Dandy Long Legs.
This compact/cigarette case combo almost makes me
 want to take up smoking, just so I can use it!
An original birdcage veil, still in its box.
A pretty green party dress. I would have liked to
have tried this beauty on, but we were on our way
out when it beckoned to me.
A timely reminder stationed next the change rooms.
While there were still lots of lovely things to look at and it was a pleasant day out, I don't think I'll bother to attend the next one. There were nowhere near enough sewing stalls!
- Tamara

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Button Bonanza - The Bounty!

As anyone who sews knows, the right buttons can really make an outfit. I'm currently working on a 1950s coat dress and went to Buttonfest hoping to find the perfect fastenings to finish it off - unfortunately I neglected to take into account I'd need fifteen identical ones. Large quantities of vintage buttons are a rarity (apparently), but I was lucky enough to find some buttons I could work with and they were only twenty cents each!
While I don't really have any projects in mind for the rest of my treasures, at five cents to one dollar a piece, they were too good a bargain to leave behind. Plus, you can never have too many notions in your stash.

Can you tell I have coats & jackets on the brain?
Some random black & reds...
For some reason, the pink & brown buttons at the front
make me think of ice cream.
The holes in the blue/grey buttons have been made on an angle which means when they're sewn on, they'll sit asymmetrically. I can't wait to use them! Oh, and the green buttons on the right are carved glass and were $1 a piece! Hello, 1930s blouse? 
And lastly, my favourite find of the afternoon,
pale blue glass with gold accents.
So pretty & shiny....
- Tamara

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