Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Belated Blog Anniversay Giveaway!

Just after I posted my Fashionable Friday last week , I realised that I had reached a milestone - I've been blogging for one whole year! Yay me!

So, in honour of this momentous occasion, I've put together a collection of patterns and vintage sewing notions and am hosting a giveaway as a way of saying thank you to my small band of readers. Here's what's on offer:

Patons Knitting Book #182, c. 1940s
The patterns in this book are so adorable, they're all named after dance styles.
I was so taken with it, I've ended up with two copies!

 Advance 5117
A simple, late 1940s blouse pattern that lends itself to all sorts of creative possibilities.
A bit of bedazzling perhaps...?

A late 1940s Marian Martin mail-order pattern.
This dress has such a funky button over shoulder detail; you could cut the front bodice in a contrasting colour to give the illusion of a top /skirt / shrug combo. The possibilities are endless!

Three vintage belt buckles - two white & one lilac pearl.
How sweet is that 50s daisy buckle? Perfect for a summer dress.

And a set of 4 vintage bow trims.

If you'd like to win all these goodies - that's right, all of 'em - just leave a comment on this post before midnight (AEST), on Sunday 3rd June 2012. Oh, and I'm more than happy to ship anywhere in the world so don't be shy, comment away!

The lucky winner will announced on Monday 4th June.
And, thanks again for reading!

- Tamara

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Ugly or Awesome?

While going through my stash this weekend to see if I had enough fabric to make 'The Flasher Coat' - can you believe that sucker requires nearly four plus yards/metres of fabric?! Needless to say, I didn't have any luck, but I did come across 3 metres of this fabulous winter-weight fabric.

I found it at Spotlight several years ago and when I spied it on the discount table, I knew I had to have it. Just look at all those crazy colours! Aren't they wonderful! It would be perfect for a vintage dress of some description. I can't recall the exact price - even though I tend to leave the receipt in the folds of the fabric so I know much is there - but I'm pretty sure it was less than $5 a metre. 

Vogue 6044

I've chosen this late 1940s Vogue dress and it's already been cut out, the edges have been finished, and I'm now ready to start construction. As you can see, it's a fairly simple design; I figure there's no point wasting my energy on fancy details that will only get lost in the print. Plus, after my frustrations with the 1950s top, I needed a project that wouldn't be too taxing on the ol' brain.

Back to the fabric...

Opinions in our house are divided - Mdblm hates it with a passion, he says it's ugly, but I on the other hand adore it whole-heartedly.

What say you dear readers: Is it ugly as sin or insanely awesome?
I'd love to hear your views.

- Tamara

Friday, 25 May 2012

Fashionable Friday - Winter Warmers

It's been a while since I've done a Fashionable Friday so let's get to it, shall we?!

With the winter weather now well and truly here, I'm looking forward to getting out some of my winter coats. At last count, I have seven, but this kitty likes to be warm. I really don't need any more, but I do like the look of some of these lovelies from The Weekly Times Magazine Section (c.1930s).

Just look at those high fur collars! They would be wonderful to nestle down into when the winds get icy...

Happy Friday everyone!

- Tamara

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Almost Winter Green

You may have noticed I've been working on sewing my winter wardrobe of late and now the cold weather has finally arrived, I'm glad I got started early.

This 1940s day/afternoon dress isn't on my winter wishlist, but I'd found the perfect fabric and it just couldn't wait.

Butterick 4379-S

Several weeks ago, while on my quest to find the my ideal winter green, I came across some winter-weight ponti de roma in a lovely shade of emerald green and quickly snapped up a couple of metres for a dress. The fabric is mostly synthetic and has a bit of a plastic-y / chemical smell about it before washing, but it was really nice to sew and falls beautifully.

Once again, there was a whole lot of pin gathering goin' on in order to get the sleeves lovely and flat, but overall Butterick 4379-S lived up to its promise of being 'quick & easy'. It's about time too!!

Ordinarily, I'm not a fan of wearing long sleeves - I find I'm constantly pushing them up so I tend to stick with the short version - but I actually really liked how they looked on this dress. Plus, longer sleeves are generally warmer. So. in order to avoid the 'pushing up', I took roughly 1.5 inches off so the sleeve now finishes just below my elbow. Still warm, but out of the way. Problem solved!

I also really like how the simple, gathered loop detail livens up the front of the dress. At the moment, I've used a piece of velvet ribbon I had in my stash, but am thinking I might change it for a regular ribbon instead. The pile of the velvet has caused the ribbon to fold over, making the gathering appear  bulky, and it also stops the ribbon from moving smoothly inside the casing. The velvet does look classy though...

This dress is so comfy and warm; I think it's safe to say I've another sucessful addition to my winter wardrobe. Yay!!

- Tamara

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Gotta Love Vintage

This weekend was a busy one. There was a dress to finish, a 40th birthday to attend on Saturday evening and the Love Vintage Show on Sunday. My dress was intended to be multi-purpose; I was able to wear it for the birthday party and the Fair so it's fairly safe to say it was a success.

There will be pics and details tomorrow, but today I'd like to share some pretty things from the Love Vintage Show.

Fluffy, pink party dresses

Stacks of hats

An adorable lady lamp

A watch for the Steampunk fans

There were also several presentations and parades throughout the day, most of which I missed, but I did manage to catch a bit of 'Vintage Styling for Modern Brides'. The above dress is modelled by Esz who blogs over at Kittys Drawings. This girl is a talented artist and fellow sewer who often leaves helpful comments of my blog. I kept spotting her iridescent red hair in the crowd and then losing her; it's such a shame we didn't get to meet in person.

One person I did get to meet however was Rosie, aka Madame Blavatsky. She was dressed in a stunning, hand-made creation and I just had to compliment her. As it turns out, Rosie owns her own business - Madame Blavatsky - and specialises in pin-up clothing and couture garments. She has also offered an excellent solution to my fitting problem with the 50s top I started last weekend. Thanks Rosie!

While there were lots of lovely things on sale, I'm on a very strict budget so a lot of it was well out of my price range. I did manage to pick up a gorgeous 1940s dressing gown at the bargain basement price of $35! The colour is a little patchy and faded in some areas but it's in excellent condition so I couldn't leave it behind.

Now I just need to find some matching slippers...

- Tamara

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Together Forever

Look what the postman delivered on Monday!

Meet Libby & Roy, the latest addition to my ever expanding collection of wire name brooches. So far, I only have female names so to find a couple joined together was pretty exciting. They're a little age weary but still in good condition and I think with a bit of careful cleaning they'll polish up nicely.

Aren't they sweet?!

- Tamara

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Fighting the Fit

After sewing with slippery double georgette to make my Purple Reign blouse, I really wanted to take a break and sew something easy. The plan was to get a bit of instant gratification by whipping up a top in an afternoon. It's funny how things don't always go to plan...

Advance 6836
I chose the top from this 1950s blouse and skirt set but went for the short sleeve version with the turtle-neck collar. The pattern is my size - on top anyway - so I just went on my merry way and cut it out. I've had fitting issues with Advance patterns before, I really should have known better, but it's never, ever been this bad.

The pattern calls for a full length zip in the back which makes one assume the top should be fitted, but it's far from it. At first, I thought perhaps a larger size pattern had been put in the envelope, but the bust darts sit in the right place so can't be it. I think it's just poorly designed; there's no way this pattern will fit a 32" bust without some alterations.

It needed half an inch taken out of every seam - except the back there is no front seam to adjust - and nearly 3" under the arms! So much for 'Sew-Easy'.

I've now sewn the alterations and the fit is much better but the armholes are still too big. I know it's supposed to have 'drop' shoulders but the sleeve detail was getting lost under my arms. That detail was the main reason I liked this top in the first place! Argh!! Time for more alterations, and this time I'm usin' the scissors.

I was so fed up with this project, I didn't care if I ruined it by cutting too much out of the arms, it's not like I could make it any worse. As you can see from the pic, my cutting frenzy was successful and it now looks much more like the envelope illustration. I'm also much happier with the fit.

The only thing left to do is the sleeves. I've cross-referenced the original pattern piece with my altered version and it looks like they're going to be a challenge. The shape has changed quite a bit and I'm not sure I'm prepared to draft my own. It was supposed to be a quick, fun project and has ended up taking far more time than I wanted to spend. I think it's time to put this one aside for now.

In closing, I'm wondering if any of my readers who sew have the same problem. Modern or vintage, is there a particular brand of pattern you have trouble getting to fit? Please feel free to share your frustrations.

- Tamara

Friday, 11 May 2012

Let Purple Reign!

I finished the first item on my winter wish list this afternoon and I couldn't be more pleased with myself.

Hollywood 1632

While on my little shopping spree at Easter I picked up a funky, purple and grey plaid with this adorable 1930s pinafore in mind and have been dying to cut it ever since. In fact, I was so excited to get started that I sat the sewing machine for roughly six hours straight and knocked the pinafore over in one evening. It was a super marathon effort which left my back aching so much I was unable to sew for a couple of weeks. But, thanks to my wonderful osteopath, I've been back at it and have made an outfit!

Originally, I'd only planned to make the pinafore, I've plenty of things to wear with it, but the blouse looked so simple I figured, why not? You'd think I would have learnt by now not everything is as it seems, nothing's ever simple. Well, that's not entirely true. The blouse was simple; there's no real fastening to speak of, it just slips on and the sleeves are only gathered at the top so fitting them was a breeze. The problem arose when I need to insert the elastic for the puffed sleeves.

I misread the instructions (quelle surprise!); the casing for the elastic is supposed to made by folding the bottom of the sleeve up roughly 3" and sewing two lines to create a pocket to thread the elastic. I tried to make it work, but I'd altered the size of the sleeves - they were going to be a little too puffy for my liking - and the hemline was too crooked to sit flat. My solution: sew a piece of bias binding to the inside of the sleeve for an instant casing, and loosely stitch the sleeve hem to the bottom of the binding. It's not the most elegant finish I've ever done but it worked. 

There is supposed to be a belt with the pinafore; I have made it but I'm looking for the perfect buckle to complete the look. I also need to tighten the elastic in the sleeves of the blouse, they're a bit floppy - sigh, after all that work - and I need to sew a small button and loop closure at the neck of the blouse. Just a couple of tweaks and it's done. Yay!!

Mdblm says my new outfit looks a bit 'school uniform-y', but you know what? If this was my uniform when I was at school, I'd have been more than happy to wear it everyday.

Happy Friday everyone!

- Tamara

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Finding Sanctuary

Earlier this year, I recieved a lovely email from Melbourne-based visual artist Louise Saxton. She had discovered my blog through my 'Habadashery Heaven' post and thought I might be interested in her upcoming exhibition at Heide Museum of Modern Art.

Sanctuary  uses reclaimed needle-work to reinterpret historical bird and insect paintings and is the result of two years of solid work. Each piece is painstakingly constructed by pinning the deconstructed embroidery pieces to nylon tulle to create texture and fill in the detail. Oh, and what detail!! Layer upon layer of foliage and flowers blended together, so much detail I could barely stop myself from touching. Not a good idea in a museum, plus the guard was watching me like a hawk.  

Detail of 'Carolina on my Mind' (54 x 32cm)

After seeing the exhibition, I was curious about the construction process and the lovely Louise was only too happy to answer my questions. So, if you can't get to the show in person, I hope my mini interview sheds some light on how these beautiful creatures are created.

On average, how long does it take to construct a piece?
For example: Maria's Saturn (Caterpillar) vs the King Parrot?
Maria's Saturn (39 x 57cm)
Queen Billie, the King parrot, was the first of the birds in this collection and I worked on her over a 5 month period.  Maria’s Saturn, the caterpillar, only took 6 days but by the time I came to make it, a whole year later, I was working much more intensely on the pieces. It is also a much smaller piece.
Another good comparison is between the Flaming Flamingo, which took 21 solid days over 6 weeks while Major Tom, the cockatoo, took eight days over 2 weeks.

Detail of Queen Billie (125 x 84cm)

When sourcing materials, do you set out with a particular image or colour in mind? Or, do you just 'go by feel' and pick up pieces which attract your attention?

When I first began collecting needlework for deconstruction 5 years ago – mostly hand-made needlework, or machine-made by a person sitting at a machine – it was like a treasure hunt each time and I would buy everything I could afford.  I then cut and colour code it back in the studio. 

I have gone hunting at various times for specific colours – and asked friends and family to keep an eye out for me. For example, when I decided to reinterpret Elizabeth Gould’s Major Mitchell’s cockatoo I needed to go out specifically looking for the variety of pinks to create the right palette.

Halcyone & Ceyx (59 x 76cm)

The majority of your pieces appear to be made up purely of foliage & flowers, although I did spy a small bridge here and there. Is this intentional?
In my previous body of work which was the result of a residency in a Malaysian garden estate in 2006 and toured back to Malaysia and Singapore in 2008, I included all kinds of embroidered and lace motifs – animals, people, houses, boats etc., as the works were more 2 dimensional and mostly monochrome and the reference to other cultures was important, particularly Asian decorative arts. 

For Sanctuary, I wanted the important relationship between the garden/forest and the bird/insect to be a strong element and for the motifs to blend as feathers and scale more.  Also, throughout history floral imagery has made up a large majority of needle-worked motifs so they are more common.
If you look closely at the work and there are a number of ‘hidden’ motifs, such as the bridges from the Willow Pattern, but also Chinese Cloud motifs and I deliberately chose a gold ecclesiastical crown for the feathers above the beak of one King-fisher. There is also a pink flamingo (which my husband found for me) hidden in the neck of my Flaming Flamingo! I like this element of playfulness within the work.
Flaming Flamingo (96 x 78cm)

Louise Saxton's 'Sanctuary' is showing at the Heide Museum of Modern Art
24th March - 29th of July 2012.
- Tamara


NOTE: All images appear with the kind permission of Louise Saxton.
Thanks again, Louise!!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Antiques Galore!

This weekend saw the Australian Antiques & Art Dealers Association Melbourne fair come to the Royal Exhibition Building.

Ordinarily, this not the type of event I would normally attend - potential for far too much stuffiness for my liking - but I managed to score a free double pass, which saved a whopping $40! There was an incredible array of things on show, the majority of it waaaay out of my price range, some beautiful art deco furniture and a disturbing number of animal 'artifacts' for sale. There was quite a bit of carved ivory and I even saw a giant tortoise shell fire-screen - it was quite an amazing piece, but when I think of the magnificent creature that once lived inside, it makes me quite sad.

On a brighter note, here are some of the shiny, pretty things that caught my eye:

1930s 'Mischief' by Saville miniature perfume bottle
with glass top hat casing and hat box.

A stunning Art Deco dresser & matching covered stool.
Some gorgeous green accessories for the dresser...

A jewelled celluloid dance purse

More sparkling beauties

A stunning Art Deco mother-of-pearl purse

All the above items, except the Mischief top hat perfume bottle, are available from Online Antiques. As their name suggests, they only sell online, but they have a booth booked for the Melbourne Love Vintage Show in a few weeks time if you're interested in seeing some of these lovely items in 3D.

And to finish, here's one of the more unusual pieces on display...

Antique Japanese tortoiseshell harikata (artificial phallus)
with accessories. C. 1800, Early Meiji Period.
Yes, that is what it looks like, an antique sex toy!! According to the limited information I could find, they were mainly used by geisha's as a masturbatory tool for their own pleasure or for their secret encounters with female lovers. Can you imagine how many oldies got a shock when they saw this nestled amongst their precious antiques? Fantastic!

- Tamara
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...