Thursday, December 30, 2010


It seems that most of my previous posts open with me apologizing for the lack of them, and now I am doing it again! I spent the last month preparing for vacation, going on vacation, and then recovering from said vacation; ditto for Christmas. How nice to come back to three new followers (hello Ginger, superheidi, and Bruce! I love your respective blogs)! And thanks so much to Bruce Partington-Plans of Eclectic Ephemera for giving me my very first blog award! It certainly is nice to know that someone (aside from my mother) is reading this! And now I see that I need to pass the award on to 15 other bloggers, which I will do posthaste! In the meantime, I have completed quite a few projects, but I am having a difficult time getting photographs of them. I have no tripod for my camera, no sunlight-filled rooms in my house, and no one here to help me during the daylight hours except a baby. I'm working on it, though! Until then, the only thing I have to show is a horrible picture of my coat. It was taken inside, at night, with a camera phone...less than ideal conditions, but here it is:

It was originally a huge, double-breasted monstrosity that I got at the Salvation Army for $10.00. But it was 100% cashmere, a lovely cream color, and the right length, so I just knew that I couldn't pass up a deal like that! Of course, I forgot to take a picture of it before I started cutting it up. Since it was so big and I could lap it over so far, I decided to model it after a picture of a '30s coat that I saw somewhere with an asymmetrical closing. I added the buttonholes and vintage buttons, shortened the sleeves, and made the belt out of the extra material. I also changed the collar. I really want to add some fur cuffs and a fur collar, but I haven't been able to find any fake fur in the right color of brown. I'm very pleased with it; what do you think? Or maybe you should reserve your judgment until I get a better photo of really looks much nicer in person!

p.s. Spellcheck corrected my spelling of "judgement" to "judgment", and upon further research I have discovered that many sources say that "judgment" is the American version and that "judgement" is used in the UK. Here is a quote from Common Errors in English Usage:

In Great Britain and many of its former colonies, “judgement” is still the correct spelling; but ever since Noah Webster decreed the first E superfluous, Americans have omitted it. Many of Webster’s crotchets have faded away (each year fewer people use the spelling “theater,” for instance); but even the producers of Terminator 2: Judgment Day chose the traditional American spelling. If you write “judgement” you should also write “colour.”

I grew up in the US and have always spelled judgement with two "e"s and never spelled color with a "u". Where are you from, and how do you spell it?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Power-sewing, but not power-blogging...

Sorry about the lack of posts lately (something new and different for this blog, eh?); we are going on vacation in a little more than a week, and I have been spending all of my free time (not much with a one year-old) frantically sewing a new wardrobe for the occasion. I have serious lack of winter clothes, so when I was making my packing list, I decided that I really only had one or two appropriate outfits and would need to make 5 or 6 more! Of course, my husband's comment of "Can't you just wear the same thing twice?" was met with stony silence. I have completed one outfit so far, which means that I should have at to show you when the week is up. Teaser: it has a detachable cape!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


First of all, I apologize again for the terrible quality of these photos. I even used a real camera this time! Apparently, even with all of the advances in technology, it still takes some skill that neither my husband nor I possess to take a quality picture. Oh well!

Here are my finished knickers:

For once, I did cut off my head on purpose; after a weekend of camping, my hair was not at its best. The knickers still looked good, though, if a little wrinkly!
I did make some changes to the original pattern. I removed the pleats in the front and added darts in the back, and I added a lining. I also omitted the belt loops and the pockets, but these omissions were more out of necessity, as I was in a serious time crunch. I made the ends of the waist and leg bands pointed, just because I like the way it looks. :)
Here is a detail of the waist and leg bands. I topstitched every seam and edge, because (as usual) I used $1.00-a-yard fabric from Wal-mart, and it did not press very well. I'm glad that I had to do this, though, because it really made them look more finished. I thought the material would end up looking cheap, but it really doesn't. Please try to ignore the horrible topstiching (again, as usual, I was frantically finishing these 10 minutes before I was supposed to be walking out the door) and just focus on the cute vintage buttons!

You can't tell from the picture, but my tights have a nice thick cable-knit. I looked all over for these, and all I could find outside of very expensive catalogs were thin patterned pantyhose, not the thick tights that I wanted. I remembered wearing these as a child, so I checked the children's section, and there they were! Cheap! One advantage of being short is that I can wear large children's sizes (my sweater is also a child's vintage sweater), so I got a pair in every color!

I hate to admit this, but I did not use my best sewing skills when making these, mostly because I was in a big hurry, but also because I knew that I would not be wearing them very often. I'm not really an outdoorsy kind of person, so I'm not sure what opportunities I will have to wear them. What do you think? Where would you wear them?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Okay, So I Lied...

Well, I am obviously not so much for power-blogging. Hey, you know, when you are taking care of a one year-old and a dog who will both eat whatever comes across their paths, there is a new crisis every day! (Side note: be sure to keep corncobs away from dogs and babies...) Also, I know that I promised photos of my new knickers, but the awful truth is that I have no idea how to get the pictures from the camera to the computer, which is why I usually take pictures with my camera phone (hence the terrible quality). So, I will have to wait until my husband has a chance to do it for me.

In the meantime, I have discovered the reason that the hair salon/consignment shop (or as I like to call it, "Ye Olde Grammar Mangler") needs a side business. Here is an example of a haircut being offered at said shop:

It's hard to tell from the photo, but those are pink and purple frosted tips.

Now, these guys

might be thinking, "Yes! I thought they stopped offering that style in 1998!", but the rest of us will probably want to stay on the consignment shop side. Unless, of course, you care about the preservation of the English language, in which case, you may just want to say "Bye Bye Bye" to the whole shop.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hallowe'en...a week later

Yikes! Two whole weeks without a post; I will need to power-blog for the next few days to make up for it! I do have a semi-excuse: I spent much of that time setting up for, hosting, and cleaning up after my annual Hallowe'en bash. I am a HUGE fan of Hallowe'en (especially spelled with an apostrophe)! I moved all of the furniture out of my living room and set up a long table for 20. Here are some pictures:

This was the next morning; it was much spookier by candlelight. The birds also look much better at night, and there are many more than can be seen in the photos. I wanted crows en masse, but they are so expensive. A few years ago, I was at Wal-Mart and I saw these plastic hunting dove decoys (our fabric section is inexplicably right next to the hunting section). They are $1.00 each, and spray-painted black and viewed in semi-darkness, they do a good imitation of a flock of crows. Bonus: they also come with a clip glued to the bottom, so I can just clip them onto branches, lamps, etc. I buy and paint a few more every year, so I have quite a flock going!

Here is a terrible picture of my costume:

I made this dress four years ago and decided that to justify the time it took to make (two months!) and the price of the fabric, I would need to wear it for at least five years! I made it using Simplicity3782 and some beautiful upholstery fabric from Hancock. I then spent about two weeks just sewing the beads and pearls on by hand. It was definitely more hand-sewing than I ever want to do again!
Here is a detail of the bodice:

And one of the sleeve showing the hand-sewn pearls. Ridiculous!

The headpiece was made from a headband, a bent wire hanger, and pantyhose. I bent the hanger over the headband to make the shape, and then stretched the pantyhose over it. I painted the hose, which gave it some color and also stiffened it. I then trimmed it and added some beads, et voila! A headpiece worthy of Queen Elizabeth (especially in the dark)!

I was really just happy that it finally fit like it was supposed to again; I was pregnant on Hallowe'en two years ago, so I had to make a cape to cover up the fact that the back wouldn't lace closed! Last year, I hadn't lost much baby weight four months after my son was born, so the cape made another appearance. This year I was able to finally retire the cape; hooray!

Tune in tomorrow for Day Two of my power-blogging: Knickers!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A New Outfit and a Milestone

Here is a horribly blurry photo of an outfit that I have recently completed:

I'm always so embarrassed when I see other bloggers' wonderful photos (I'm talking to you, Baroness Von Vintage)! The lack of quality in my pictures probably has something to do with the fact that my husband is always holding a squirming baby who is trying to grab the least, that's what he blames it on! Anyway, hopefully you can see the outfit, if not the details. The skirt looked simple when I planned it, but matching up those stripes was no picnic! You'll notice that I chose not to show the back....
I made the shirt to match the now-shrunken and much-lamented white skirt. The sweater vest was purchased, but it was huge; I took in the sides, cut about 6 inches off of the bottom, and used that to make the belt. I then re-hemmed it by hand. I have done this many times to give a modern sweater a more vintage silhouette. As long as the weave on the sweater is small enough, I have had no problems altering it using my sewing machine; if the weave is large, I just hand-sew it. The secret: lots of Fray-Check and tiny stitches!

And now the milestone: my blog has a new follower (Hi, Debi; I love your blog!) who is not related to me by blood or marriage, which makes the number of family and non-family members equal! Perhaps sometime in the future, non-relatives will make up the majority...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Failure to Communicate

This sign is posted by the door of a shop near my house:

This is why I'm planning to homeschool my children.

The best part is that by the side door, in the same handwriting and on the same blue paper, is another sign on which the apostrophe is correctly omitted. It's as if the owner of the shop wasn't sure which usage was correct, decided to hedge her bets, and just used both. Hopefully, all of the grammarians who frequent this beauty salon/consignment shop (?!) will use the side entrance.

To add insult to injury, I made an appointment for my husband to have a physical, which is required for his new job (hooray!). The receptionist informed me that the physical would be performed by a female doctor, but that I shouldn't worry because there would be "nothing evasive involved". What a relief! I'd hate to think that a medical professional would beat around the bush while performing an examination...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Plus Fours, revisited

After my last post about plus fours, someone suggested to me that women would not have worn knickers in the 1930s, and that their appearance in Cold Comfort Farm was due to Hollywood taking liberties, which we know they often do. So I decided to do some more research to see if I could find any evidence of actual '30s women wearing knickers, and did I ever! Most of the useful information and photos in this post come from this Sportswear Workshop written by the very knowledgeable FuzzyLizzie on the Vintage Fashion Guild forum. She also has many more pictures like these, among other interesting subjects, on her website.
It appears that women have been wearing short pants for activities such as hiking, camping, riding, sports, etc, since the late 1800s-early 1900s when they appeared as long bloomers:

It looks like they really caught on in the '20s, as I was able to find quite a few examples of women wearing them:

Some illustrations and patterns (if only I had this first one!):

And even some real-life examples:

I found fewer examples from the 1930s. It appears that as the 1930s progressed, and as shorts and slacks became more acceptable and popular, knickers for women were largely abandoned. Here is an ad from the early '30s showing both options, and another illustrating riding breeches:

I wonder if another factor could be the preference for more feminine fashions in the 1930s, compared to the more boyish styles of the 1920s. In any case, it appears that wearing knickers in the '30s was certainly acceptable, perhaps just not quite as fashionable. Since Cold Comfort Farm is set in the early '30s, and as that happens to be my favorite part of the decade as well, I will certainly feel no qualms wearing my plus fours camping, hiking, and even (miniature) golfing!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Plus Fours!

After re-reading this post over at The Painted Woman, I was inspired to watch one of my favorite movies, Cold Comfort Farm, again. The movie is wonderful, and the early 1930s clothes are amazing. I know next to nothing about screencaps, and in addition to the one referenced above, I know of at least two very nice blog posts with this film as their subjects: this post from the Vintage Baroness, and this one from Penny Dreadful Vintage, so check them out to see more lovely outfits from the movie.

While watching this scene,

I thought about how much I would love to have a pair of these wonderful plus fours in which to, you know, relax on a hillside. I was just getting ready to attempt to create a pattern for them, when lo and behold, what do I come across on ebay but this pattern:

It is now on its way to my house. Obviously, I will need to make a few alterations to transform the *lovely* '70s styling into '30s styling, but still; hooray! My mother convinces me to go camping, one of my least favorite activities (the appeal of freezing to death on the rock-hard ground while waiting for a wild animal to attack just seems to escape me), once a year for her birthday. Wouldn't these be perfect? Now if I only had time to make a vest to match...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Swiss dot

A long time ago, I found about 5 yards of yellow and about 2 yards of white swiss dot fabric, all for $1.00 a yard at Wal-Mart. It's been in my stash for a few years, but I finally decided to use it. Here is the result:

I wore it the other day on a last-grasp-at-summer trip to the zoo with my family. I had planned to put sleeves on it, but it looked so right sleeveless that I left them off and just finished them with some bias tape. The belt buckle is one of my recent etsy finds, which I covered in the yellow swiss dot. I made this one without a formal pattern, cobbling together pieces from various patterns to make it look like I wanted it to. Please ignore the dead plant beside me in the photo on the right; although I try very hard, gardening is one skill that I have not mastered.

In other news, I am mourning the loss of this skirt:

It was made of some $1.00 a yard mystery fabric from Wal-Mart, and my husband washed it. If I lose about 20 pounds and shrink 3 inches, it will fit me again, but as that is not likely, I suppose a new white skirt is first on the to-do list for next spring. I guess that's what I get for not doing my own laundry; no wonder I failed the 1930s Housewife Quiz!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Recovering + Etsy score!

Sorry about the lack of posts lately; an especially nasty virus laid my family low for about a week. Taking care of a sick baby when you're also sick is no picnic! Thankfully, my husband did not catch it, so he was able to watch the baby for one full day by himself while I was still contagious. He then spent the next day "recovering" (sleeping and drinking beer). Apparently, being "Mr. Mom" did not agree with him.

The only thing that I accomplished this week was a series of lucky finds on Etsy: all of these vintage belt buckles are now mine!

I already have plans for some of them, and the rest I'll save for a rainy day. The blue and orange ones are wooden, and I've already covered one with fabric to match the afore-mentioned yellow swiss dot skirt, which I finally finished, along with its matching shirt. I'll post a photo of that outfit tomorrow.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Jabot

I made this jabot from an old moth-eaten yellow sweater last night. I see that I really need to work on my photography skills; it looks much cuter in person!

The flowers are made from the sweater material. To make the backing, I just cut two triangles out of some yellow swiss dot, ironed on some interfacing, and sewed them together. I left the corners open for turning and so that I could thread some grosgrain ribbon through. I stitched the flowers to the backing, and voila! A new jabot!

It looks nice with a skirt that I just finished out of the same yellow swiss dot. Well, it's almost finished; somehow I made the waistband a bit too small (oops...wishful thinking, I suppose), so I will post a photo of that one soon!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Grammar fail(ure)

We were at PetSmart yesterday, and I happened to spy one of my least favorite grammatical errors: the use of a plural where a possessive is called for and vice versa.

To be fair, this appeared in a tag engraving machine, so it really wasn't PetSmart's mistake. However, some well-meaning but semi-literate PetSmart employee, obviously attempting to follow the Law of Conservation of Apostrophes ( "For every apostrophe omitted from an "it's'' there is an extra one put into an "its"), hung this sign about three feet away:

When I see mistakes like these, made by adults who have, presumably, completed elementary school, I can't help but echo the sentiments of Lynne Truss in her wonderful book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: "Why did the Apostrophe Protection Society not have a militant wing? Could I start one? Where do you get balaclavas?"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Okay, so that's an old joke...but since this is a new blog, I'm using it anyway!

I put this picture of Bette Davis here at the top of my blog because this photo represents my hair ideal. If I had the skill, I would spend as much time as it took to make my hair look exactly like this! Sadly, my style falls far short of the lovely Bette's, but all the same, I am rather proud of it. My nighttime routine goes like this: I shower, spray in setting lotion, and make the fingerwaves using these clips that I got from Sally:

I then roll the back in small foam rollers and go to sleep. When I wake up in the morning, I just take the clips and rollers out, spray all over with hairspray, and I'm good to go! I've seen this done much better on various online tutorials, but this is as good as it gets for me! Here is a what it looks like:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Newest wardrobe addition

Well, I thought I would start out by posting some photos of my latest projects. I do like to dress in the style of the 1930s all the time, and I learned to sew so that I could make my own clothes. Any vintage clothes that I do happen to find are not usually in my size, and I really wouldn't trust myself to wear them if they were (I do have a 15 month-old baby, after all)!  That's the nice thing about reproductions: those little hand prints just wash right out, and I don't feel like I've ruined a piece of history if something worse happens.

 Here is a two-piece sports dress I just completed:       

 I'm not wearing them together because it is still much too hot for September and the material is rather heavy. I made them with this pattern from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library:

It's interesting to see how different these dresses look on real people versus the pattern envelope illustrations. I also don't know how anyone could wear the dress open in the back as is shown in the small drawing (I tried it; it's alright as long as you don't lean over)! Maybe she's just wearing it that way to cool off after a rousing game of tennis, hmm?


Monday, September 13, 2010

First post!

As I am not very computer-savvy and have spent all evening getting this blog in some semblance of order, I only have time for one short "hello" before it's off to bed. Must sleep when baby sleeps!