Saturday, June 28, 2014

Dipped. In Paint Print.

When you are left with a teensy bit of awesome fabric what do you do?  

I make a bikini!

 Now it could be said that a lady my age has no business wearing a bikini.

And it is true that I'm more Hilda than Marilyn.

But who cares, really?  Nobody, that's who.

I love swimwear and I will love wearing this suit.

Provided it doesn't melt the minute it touches water!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Canvas Pants

Simplicity 4401 again.  I can't stop!

This time I used a slightly shiny lightweight fabric with a lovely smeary drippy abstract print.

I hacked off some of the length to give them kicky Summer clam digger style.

Here's a back view.

At some point I suppose I really should try another trouser pattern,
but I just love this one SO much!

Is there one pattern you can't stop using over and over?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Old Kitchen/New Kitchen

Our home was build in 1956.  One of the reasons that we fell in love with it was that, despite having gallons and gallons of greige "landlord paint" thrown at it and years of benign neglect, it was a still a basic, solid, relatively untouched 1950s ticky-tacky box house.

Most of the restoration work we've done has been simple: repainting, swapping cracked 90s fake marble tile and modern plastic berber carpeted floors for hardwood, replacing contemporary light fixtures with vintage ones, choosing vintage paint colors and wall coverings.  Easy.
But then there was the kitchen.

The kitchen had been redone some time in the late 80s early 90s.  
The beautiful old pine cabinets had been ripped out and replaced with heavy dark oak. The vintage appliances were gone.  The breakfast nook had been turned into extra counter space.

We actually liked the layout, but the ugly brown cabinets and horrid poorly installed 6x6 "country pink" tiles with permanently filthy and  un-cleanable half-inch grout lines had to go.  

We did a lot of online research.  Retro Renovation was a big help.  We also watched a LOT of 50s & 60s technicolor movies, read old magazine articles, and poured over old 
BH&G Decorating books. For extra inspiration our 2013 calendar was 40s-60s kitchen advertisements.

We were extremely fortunate to have our friend Janel, from Janel Holiday Interior Design, at helping us to source materials and make our vision a reality.  She usually does much more posh jobs than ours so we were honored to have her assistance.  There's no way we would have found our backsplash tile without her!   It's from a company called Fireclay and is hand made locally using all recycled materials.  The candy colors are wonderful! 

Here's a close up of our materials and tile layout. 

While we wanted a kitchen that would honor the home's past, I was pretty set on having "all mod cons."  My favorite new non-retro thing?  The hood over the stove!  Because our house had been a rental for years it had only a crappy microwave over the stove instead of a proper vent. (Why do landlords all seem to think that is a good idea?)  The ceiling and tops of the cupboards were grimy filthy and disgusting from accumulated "cooking fog." Blerg!  That will never happen again now that we have a fancy new hood to suck out all the ick!

My favorite new retro thing?
My Dishmaster Imperial Four faucet set over an enormous Kholer farmhouse sink.
I love it so much and it's brand spankin' new.
The Dishmaster  company is still making them in USA.  

My favorite actual retro thing is a solid tie between the incredible art deco wallpaper from Second Hand Rose and the vintage wall clock that we picked up at the flea market.

When we first moved in, we were a bit puzzled by the strange recessed outlet between the top of the door and the ceiling.

Then we found this clock with an extremely short cord at the flea market…
...and it all made sense.

How 'bout some before and after shots of the whole kitcheny-kitchen?

Here's a before shot of the breakfast bar area.

We had the bar cut back about 6 inches to make it easier to access the cabinets underneath.    Deciding to get rid of the thick brown window trim was easy.  We finished the inside of the window casings with 1/4 round edging painted white and had the wallpaper installed right to the edge. 
It's a zillion times better!

The pantry wall and pass-through into the dining room looked like this before.

After: Two hideous pantry doors replaced with one sleek new one!
We even redid the inside of the pantry making it much more usable.

My vintage appliances and retro microwave are much happier in this kitchen!

Overall, we really tried to keep things simple.  The cabinets were merely re-faced with painted MDF.  The countertops are inexpensive Caesarstone in a formica-ish color and pattern with squared fronts.   The under-counter lighting?  Battery operated tap lights from the hardware store.

Here's what the cooking area looked like before.

And here's the after shot.  

We haven't done the floors yet as we're negotiating which Armstrong linoleum tiles to use.  It may be one of these.  I like the red/blue/yellow speckle and the lemon yellow.

So that's it!  The kitchen is finally mostly done.  We couldn't have done any of it without Joe from California Happy Homes.  His team was great and totally got our weird retro vision.  
Hooray for retro kitchen remodels!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pedal Pushers for Summer

So I tried, y'all, but I just never really fell in love with my Gertie pedal pushers.  I liked the flipped cuffs and they were comfy and all but eventually I had to give in and admit that they just didn't fit right.  I don't blame Gertie.  I blame my lack of skill and the fact that modern patterns HATE me.

So the Gerties went to the thrift store and I made these up instead. 
 McCalls 8820 from 1952.

I REALLY LIKE THEM!  Like, a lot.

 They fit!  The waistband is at my waist and everything!

 Yeah, I'm feeling pretty good about these guys.  The pix don't do them justice, thanks to the unbelievably crap lighting in my house.  EVERY light in the room is on and I have one of those fancy photographer lights too and it's STILL TOO DARK.  Sigh.  Stupid light absorbing black denim...

I was totally afraid of the pockets at first but they were SO easy!
I lined the pockets with some leftover cherry gingham.  
The gingham peeks out around the pocket edges and, I think, adds extra cuteness.

 They are supposed to have side vents but the denim I used would not behave.
The fabric is stretchy enough that I don't really need the vents.
 I closed the seam and sewed on buttons anyway for extra flavor.

The band is supposed to close with a button but I prefer pants hooks.
I sewed a decorative button on the waistband anyway.  50s cuteness with modern convenience.  Yay!

 These pedal pushers make me unreasonably happy! I'll be wearing them a lot this summer.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Leopard Soft Serve

More slacks.  Simplicity 4401 again. 

This leopard fabric is so very strange.  I was searching for bottom weight twills and when this popped up on my screen I though, "Oh YES!"  But it's just weird.

It's possible that I bought upholstery fabric by accident. It doesn't have a lot of stretch to start with but as the day goes on, it gets droopier and droopier and never quite snaps back.  But the next time I wear them, the trousers have gone back to their original shape.  

So strange. After the first few wears, I took the waistband off and added pintucking front and back to help them look a little more tailored.

Also, the leopard print runs across the grain and I managed to cut these slacks out  in such a way that the dark stripe cuts across my body.  I look like a leopard ice cream cone.  Despite all the issues I like them.  They are as comfy as sweats but a teensy bit classier.

But only a teensy bit.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Stashbusting: Artistic Dressing

I have to admit that when I finished this dress, I wasn't sure about it.
I cut a lot of corners (no lining, rolled hem) and was a bit ashamed that it wasn't my best work.

I wore it once and wasn't convinced.  After leaving it in a pile on the sewing room floor for weeks, I sent it off to the dry cleaners.  When it came back I tried it on again and fell in love. 

The fabric came from the thrift store for $5 for about 4 yards.  The selvage says that it was made by Cranston Print Works, a US company that was in business from 1807-2009.

I love the strange artistic Picasso/Chagall faces.  It was difficult to make sure that
a face did not end up on a breast apex.  I did okay.  Could have been much worse!

I used Simplicity 4360 View 2.

 It really is simple to make.  It came together easily with no alterations.

Why is it that late 50s/early 60s patterns almost always fit me perfectly with no fuss?  
I wish I had that kind of luck with modern patterns.

How does one accessorize a dress that's primary color is greige?

I went with a little tarnished plastic, a little bakelite and some pinky beige faux pearls.

Also, these carved Mexican screw back earrings.  I love their little grouchy faces.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Stashbusting: Silk and Maribou

Less than one yard of black silk 'bout a 60s cocktail top?

I still liked the look of Simplicity 4513 but it would have to be a little lot longer this time and I didn't really want to make the same thing again.  After digging around in the pattern stash for a while, I finally settled on Simplicity 1201 view 1.  

I shortened it to waist length and left out all of the darts.  It ended up nice and boxy and very 60s.
I really like the flat neckline and shoulder button detail.

Maribou is gorgeous but extremely fiddly to sew on.  
The feathers like to follow the thread through the needle holes and create these tight, sad, clumpy knots. Eventually, though, I got the hang of it. The trick seemed to be to make large loops with the thread and then gently pull the loops down over the feathers.

I really like the way it came out.

Black is extremely hard to photograph and the light in my house is just atrocious.
But I think these photos are fun anyway.

The blouse looks great with my Simplicity 4401 trousers.

It's a very Laura Petrie ensemble, donchathink?