Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vintage maxi dress - 1979

A maxi dress is, apparently, a must-have piece for summer - however, often they look...well, MAXI. I have tried many on and always thought they looked anywhere from moderately unflattering, to a maternity dress, to sack-like and hideous. I must be wrong though, because come summer the C.B.D. where I live becomes a sea of maxi's.

So, I thought I would search for my kind of maxi - one with shape, drape, and vintage appeal...

et voila
(View 3 - light blue)

I used a lovely fabric my boyfriend picked out whilst fabric shopping some time ago. It is red with little yellow and white flowers, and green leaves. The fabric is a cotton blend (I suspect) with superb drape, and a really nice, soft feel. It also doesn't seem to wrinkle easily. I bought the pattern for 50 cents at an op shop.

I have never worn a maxi dress before, for all the reasons already mentioned, but I premiered this dress today (I finished it at 11 pm last night) whilst doing some window shopping and received compliments, so I think I may have cracked the "maxi" code - vintage styling, cinched in waist, great fabric.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Eco-dyeing workshop...

Our last two days at fashion school were spent manipulating fabric using "Eco-dyeing" techniques. Our teacher had participated in a workshop by India Flint who has written a beautiful book all about Eco-dyeing - Eco Colour . What fun it is too.

All but one of the samples were created by bundling various plant material - twigs, leaves, flowers, red & brown onion skins - along with metal objects - rusty nails, horseshoe, wire, bits and pieces of metal - in silk or wool, and tying tightly with string. the bundles were then simmered in pots of rainwater, bark and gum leaves for 45 minutes.

This final sample was created by placing petals between fabric and hammering them to release the colour - hapa zome.

It's very messy, and fragrant fingers are stained with colour. The results are much better in the flesh, photos just don't do it justice, and onion skins seem to be the most striking.

Last night, whilst going on my daily bicycle ride, I went to an old railway and scavenged several fabulous pieces of rusty metal just littering the area - railway spikes, bolts, bottle tops etc. I was so happy with my find...who'd thought rusty junk could be so exciting!!!

Have a nice weekend :-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My very first comission...

Wow... I just completed my very first commission - a shibori dyed blouse.

I have made a blouse like this before, and was asked to make a black one for a friend in the U.S.

I've never sewn anything for another person, or for money, and was nervous that the blouse look right. After all the nerves, I am really happy with it - and I hope my friend likes it too.

More posts to come soon... I still have to take some photos.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Advance 4826 - 1949 Sundress and Bolero - my interpretation

Since starting a fashion design and technology diploma, I have learned the fundamentals of pattern making, I have created many patterns, both, at school and at home. This has always been what I really wanted to learn, because I knew that I would no longer be restricted to purchased patterns. Now, I look at patterns online, and rather than buy them...I copy them.

Sadly, I am so addicted to patterns that I DO still buy many...c'est la vie :-)

Voila, I offer you my interpretation of this pattern - Advance 4826...

I used the bodice from this pattern...
Vogue 8184, view F (centre bottom, green)

And, the skirt from this pattern...
Butterick 5214 make the sundress. I then drafted a bolero pattern to complement. The dress fabric came from an op-shop, for about $4.00. I purchased the trims, and white linen at a local fabric store. All up around $20.00, and two days work.

I am really happy with the result :-)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Electra "Amsterdam" Sport Special 9D

My boyfriend and I bought new bikes recently, and I wanted to show mine off as it has plenty of retro elegance about it. From the lovely metallic olive green paint, gold and silver pin stripes, to the extra special "Brooks" aged leather saddle and grips.

The weather has started warming up nicely here, and because we live 5 minutes from the waterfront we have gone for a ride along the waterfront path every night after dinner. My new bike has 9 gears, and is quite light and speedy for a "city" bike. I just adore the European styling, and even though it is a men's bicycle I can still ride it whilst wearing a dress and heels.

I added the silver mudguards, rear rack and wicker basket, and also some extra grippy pedals - necessary when one rides in heels ;-).

A rather daggy, but practical, accessory I picked up at my local op shop for $4.00 is a bicycle rain poncho...worn by tons of people all over Asia, who only have bicycles for transport. They may look silly, but they really do help one stay drier.

Still haven't photographed my most recent projects, but soon I promise. School is almost finished for the year, and photo taking weather is upon us...

Have a lovely weekend :-)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Forgive my slackness...

I am terribly sorry that I have not posted for a while. I have several items to show you all, but the weather for taking photos has been pretty ordinary in Geelong lately - I am hoping for some sunshine soon so I can have a photo taking day.

Stay tuned, because lousy weather allows for lots of sewing :-)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Simplicity meets Shibori.

In the last couple of days I Shibori dyed some off-white silk to make the blouse (view A) in Simplicity's 3688, 1940s retro.

I cut out and over-locked all of the pattern pieces in preparation for dyeing. I then used different resists on each section of the garment.

Both sleeves (wrong sides together) were secured around glass marbles with rubber bands. The yoke was stitched with a simple floral motif in three places. Both backs (again, wrong sides together) were stitched with a spiral running stitch at the shoulder, and with rows of horizontal running stitch along the lower back. The lower front was stitched in the same way as the lower backs. Upon completion of the running stitch the are all gathered as tightly as possible (without breaking them). The fabric bunches up a lot like smocking.

I then dyed the pieces together in a bath of equal parts magenta and turquoise acid dye for an hour...with stunning results.

As I said in my last post, I am obsessed with dyeing...and am dyeing everything in sight :-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shibori dyeing...

Whilst not really vintage, rather a tradition, I thought I would share with you my latest obsession...
Shibori dyeing.

I have tried this technique twice, with a huge improvement in results - so now I am obsessing about what can I dye next ?

We made this top at school, and were encouraged to dye, or embellish, it after it was graded. I folded it up into a rectangle, and tied it with string between two smaller rectangles of timber. However, the string did not apply enough pressure to keep the dye from penetrating beneath the timber, so it is not really 'resist dyed'.

For my second attempt I clamped the timber, after folding the fabric 'concertina-style', and the 'resist' worked much better...

The final result is slightly less stark than this picture because the dye is not colourfast - thus it tinged the white bits pale green after I washed it.

Having said that, though, I am so happy with the result! I think I will make a simple shift dress (or similar) so as to retain the pattern as much as possible.

I will post the result.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vintage Vogue V1137

I made this dress, V1137, yesterday. It was fabulously easy, and went together perfectly.

I made a couple of alterations to the garment... firstly, I omitted the splits at the sides; the skirt is quite roomy enough without them. Secondly, I shortened the length. After cutting it out (unfortunately) I realised it was far too long for my taste, so I took off about 30 cms.

I used a fabric with just a little stretch for comfort, which just so happened to be only $3.00 per metre at Spotlight. It was on the bargain table, so I took what was left on the roll: around 3.5 metres. I love, love, love florals...and red - so this fabric was not only cheap, but perfect!!!

I will definitely make this pattern again, as I am very happy with the fit and styling.

Do you think it looks vintage enough?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sassy Lassie's giveaway...

Fellow blogger and vintage style aficionado, Sassy Lassie has a fab giveaway for all vintage lovers to enter. Off I go to leave my comment...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rosina - 1935 hand-knit

My latest finished vintage project is "Rosina", a hand-knit originally from 1935, although my pattern is a reproduction, from a pattern book written in the 80s; sorry, can't remember the title. The only difference between mine and the original 1935 version is that mine is knitted with DK weight yarn, whilst the original called for fingering weight yarn. My mum sews my jumpers up for me (thanks mum), and I collected it from her yesterday, sewed the buttons on last night, and wore it today. As usual, I have to wear a new garment immediately or the very next day - whether I buy or make it.

original 1935 image
my version
close-up of garter stitch detail
me again
The pattern is a very simple one, with only knit, purl, garter stitch, and basic increasing/decreasing. The front is a 'mock' cardigan, and for simplicity sake - and to eliminate untidy buttonholes - I sewed the buttons in place. I figure it didn't matter as the buttons are only for show. I also added a button to each collar, just to hold them in place.

I have made this jumper once before, it was my first project when I returned to knitting about 10 years ago (after being taught as a youngster, and a 10 year break). However, the wool shop lady who I sought yarn advice from suggested I make the third size - and it was far too big. With a much greater understanding about my knitting tension (loose) and what fits me, this time I made the first size, and it fits as it should. It is not tight, but it does hug my body as hand knitted garments of the time were supposed to.

The yarn I used was Sirdar 'Balmoral', a blend of 72% wool, 25% alpaca, and 3% silk. A DK weight yarn, this feels lovely and is not itchy against my skin. This is usually an issue for me, however I wore my new jumper today with only a singlet did not itch, and I was as warm as toast!

I am so happy with this turned out perfect, and looks exactly as I hoped it would!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My man and his new coat

My lovely man and I went to an op-shop on the other side of town today...and of course there were bargains to be had.

My lovely man's new coat; "Parkchester" exclusive to Myer, pure wool "loomed in West of England", a fabulous vintage wool overcoat for just $10.00...doesn't he look fab!!!
This is the "bat" man that paid for my sewing course, which changed my life.


A vintage grey glomesh clutch bag for $3.50. the only fault (if you could call it that) is the shoulder strap chain is missing. Otherwise, bag is in great condition.

Big thanks to my man for seeing the bag in the window and pointing it out to me...he absolutely indulges my fashion/op-shop extravagances. He is like a fashion sponge...last night he commented on the weather girl's "leg-of-mutton" sleeve top. Whatta man!!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

My latest design

This is my latest design, a basic "sheath", using vintage fabric and notions.

The bodice is made using vintage fabric, the skirt a light-weight crepe, and white grosgrain ribbon and vintage red plastic buckle belt. I bought the vintage fabric from ebay, and the red buckle from etsy.

I designed this dress using my basic dressmaker's blocks, although what you see is an adjusted design. I initially made this with a 12-gore skirt in the vintage fabric. I had made a pattern and toile of a gored skirt in pattern making class and thought it would look good...and it does. However, it was just that bit too short for me to be comfortable and I just knew I wouldn't wear it. Rather than waste the vintage fabric, I removed the too short skirt and replaced it with the straight skirt. The too short skirt will now be added to a hip length, a-line tunic to make a "flapper-style" dress. The tunic part will be made from the same crepe. Will post the result.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Two charity store gems...

I thought I would share with you my two latest charity store buys...and what gems they are!
1960s style
This one is labelled "Elvie Hill of Melbourne". I don't know if that is a clothing label or a personalised label, the dress is quite old and has no size or care label. It looks homemade. This dress was $10.00 and came with two belts; one made from the silky bodice fabric, the other made from the woollen skirt fabric. It is difficult to see, but i love the way the two fabrics are so different texturally, yet the same pattern. Edit: I just googled Elvie Hill of Melbourne and found out that Elvie Hill was a "couturier and self-named fashion label, from 1940s"
...HOW COOL!!!

1970s style

This dress has had the label removed, is made of a semi-transparent chiffon-like fabric, with an elastic waist and lining below the waist. It reminded me of "Saturday Night Fever" when I saw it, and at $8.00 I couldn't leave it there.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What if...

Recently I have found myself pondering...what if my mother and grandmother had saved all their lovely clothes and accessories for me; what if they knew that one day I would want them for myself. I was thinking about this again today because my boyfriend and I went to the Mill Market, a huge venue filled with retro clothing, among other things. I saw a 'glomesh' clutch...and remembered my mum had one. Then I remembered all the lovely clutch purses she owned...and matching shoes (too small for me)...and nice dresses too. I then began to imagine the lovely clothes my grandmother would have owned, as a 21 year old in 1952.

What got me thinking about this in the first place was a visitor where I work. I am a "tea lady" in a nursing home, and I was telling one of the resident's daughters that I had started studying fashion design, and of my love of vintage. She responded with what I imagine is all too familiar...oh, if only I hadn't thrown all of mum's clothes away, you would have loved them. And, yes, I would have loved them because this lady's mum would have been a very beautiful and fashionable young woman. She is still beautiful, in her nineties.

I am very fortunate to have one item, my most prized fashion-related possession...a small black handbag that belonged to my great-grandmother.

I don't know when it was made, but it is vinyl, or similar man-made product, and has a lovely multi-toned gray closure...

I absolutely love this bag; its simplicity, size, and style - but more importantly, because it belonged to my great-grandmother. I use it everyday!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hollywood pants - shorts

These shorts are my "Hollywood shorts", one of the styles in the Folkwear pattern - "Hollywood pants - # 250". I love all three styles in this pattern, and have attempted two - these, and the knickers...the knickers were no good though. I think the problem is that I am not very 'hip-py', and both patterns required a lot of alteration to the shape at the hip area...which I am no expert at. I persevered with the shorts, but trashed the knickers. I will try again another time. Also, I think I made the waistband wider than the pattern called for.

I just love these shorts...they are very cheeky, and lots of fun. The little pleats are so cool, and the top-stitching above the pleats add a nice detail. This pair are made in a really crisp chambray, but I can see them in a medium wool (with drape) for winter, or a plaid. I guess I have been spoilt with patterns - I rarely have to adjust them - so these patterns really tested my patience. Having said that, I will make these shorts again, and try the others again too.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sewing space

I was reading a blog about sewing spaces, so I thought I'd show you mine, although space is probably a generous description...

I live in a very small house, and this room houses our computer desk, coffee machine table, a couple of shelving units, various stuff, and my sewing machines. Another room, our lounge, has my dressmaker's dummy, and the spare room a.k.a. "tool room or man's room" is where I hide my boxes of fabric etc. I also have a fold-up table for cutting and pattern drafting, which I have to store flat. I dream of having a studio space filled with storage galore, and a table 2 metres x 2 metres (at least) that is high enough to prevent the back ache I get every time I hunch over my current table to pattern draft or cut out - this is the stuff of dreams!!! However, I am grateful to have a space at all, and the items I need to make my own clothes...I am very lucky.

Speaking of lucky, my two sweet little retro sewing tables I have were "free to good home" on the side of the road near my mum's house. She loaded them into the hatchback, and brought them to me. A bit of a clean and they were ready to go.

I actually really like them, not just because they were free, because they possess a kind of quaint, and very retro, charm. They are also small enough to not take over the room.