Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

The hubs and I will be celebrating in our usual laid back style this year, hitting up our local pub. We toyed with the idea of doing something more spectacular since its 2010, but all ideas were vetoed due to the expense or the impossibility of finding parking/cabs in this town.

Unless bad weather or lethargy intervene, I'll be rocking the bunny suit as usual.

I hope that you all have a very safe and sane New Year's Eve and that the New Year brings you lots of joy.

I've got a ton of finished projects completed and photographed. They just need to be written up and posted. We'll go back to our regularly scheduled programming (sewing!) next week.

- - -

So that this isn't a totally picture-less post, here are some snaps of me and the Hubs all dressed up to go to our friend Fred's birthday party. (Not tonight. This was a week or so ago.) The theme of the evening was Kilts. Husband doesn't have a kilt, but he does have a sarong. Here he is looking like an ambassador from some made-up country.

Except for the socks (outlet mall) and the sarong (ebay) his entire outfit is thrifted.

Everything I'm wearing is thrifted except for the nylons (Target), the charm bracelet (ebay), and the eyeglasses, which are vintage 50s from Allyn Scura eyewear.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Friends Are Awesome, Happy Holidays!

I have super duper extra wonderful friends. When my friends Angela and Katie were visiting over the Thanksgiving holiday, Angela noticed my aluminum canister set sitting on the kitchen counter.

She said that she had the matching bread box and had been trying to sell it on Craigslist, but there hadn't been much interest. She said it was kind of beat up, but she wondered if I would want it. (Um...HELLS YES!) I told her that I'd love to have it and it magically arrived in the mail a few days after she returned home.

It's completely gorgeous (not really beat up at all) and it holds a ton of bread, cookies and crackers.

It looks great on my counter top and makes a nice book-end for my cookbooks.

Win! My friends are the best!

- - -

I hope that, whatever holiday you celebrate, this year's has been (or will be) the best!

We are heading up north this weekend to see the hub's family and maybe drop in on my family too. The hub's family celebrates Christmas with great gusto, while my family celebrates Bah Humbug. In fact, my dad has managed to split town just before Xmas two years running. At any rate, I enjoy seeing MD's family and they love to see us, so I'm sure it will be lots of fun.

Here's the test run of my "visiting the family" outfit.

I made the skirt, the shoes are Newport News, and the red v-neck sweater came from the flea market. MD's mom got me the grey embroidered sweater for Xmas last year. Isn't it fun? I think it's somewhere in-between the cliche (but much loved) tacky Christmas Sweater and one of those super cute Mexican souviner felt jackets. It's kinda goofy and I just love it!

Wishing you and yours the very best! xoxoxo!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Blouse With The Butterfly Sleeves

I bought this fabric to make curtains for the kitchen.

I intended to buy a little extra so that I could get free shipping from Lucky for me, I measured the windows totally wrong and ended up with a LOT extra. I decided to make this blouse.

This pattern is really only three pieces if you include the collar. That made it pretty darned easy. I mostly followed the instructions but there were a few very basic things I changed.

I used the rolled hem foot on the sleeve edge and everywhere else it asked for a quarter inch seam.

The instructions didn’t mention lining the ties and there was no pattern piece for this. When it was tied it looked pretty funky, with the wrong side of the fabric showing, so I cut out matching pieces for the tie ends. I made a rolled hem on the parts of the ties that would be un-lined. Then I matched the ends and the ties, right sides together and made a quarter inch seam allowance all the way around. Turning the ties right side out to finish, I flipped in the last raw edge and tacked it down.

I cut out and finished the collar piece, but ultimately decided that I’d like the blouse better without the giant 70s collar. For some reason the lining for the v-front was extremely long so I used it for the collar interfacing. I put in a “patch” between the ends and it worked perfectly.

I think the finished blouse is so super cute! I can’t wait for nice weather so I can wear it!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not Quite Instant Skirt

I decided to whip this one up with some black cotton faille from the stash.

Faille was an interesting fabric to work with. Its thick, heavy and stiff. It looks a little like taffeta minus the shine. It didn't really want to be ironed and, as usual, my iron was too hot, so there are a few iron marks here and there. Also, I created a lot of shine across the darts by over-pressing. I really liked working with it, though, and the finished garment is far sturdier than a pencil skirt made with a lighter cotton.

The pattern itself should have been easy to use and it was, sort of. It's very close to my actual measurements (I'm a little bigger) and there were only a few darts and a back-seam/pleat to deal with. Unfortunately, it seems like the simplest things are always the ones that give me the most trouble.

There was way too much wearing ease. It would have been several inches to big if I had put in the back seam where the pattern suggested. The instructions for the kick-pleat in the back didn't make sense to me so I ended up simply trimming the excess off the back until it fit.

The darts were a wreck too; they made giant puffs of fabric on either side of my hips. I extended the darts and that took care of most of the puffiness. I made a very narrow waistband instead of using the one that came with the pattern. When I stitched the waist band on, I accidentally messed up the direction of the pressed darts. It's not too obvious, but it bugs me.

Luckily, black hides a lot of sins.

I will probably have to add a slit up the back, as the skirt bottom is a bit narrow for walking in.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Crafty Green Baby Shower

Our friends Andy and Kellie are having twins, and this weekend we went to their baby shower. They are hip rock-and-roll types so, naturally, they had the shower at a most awesome location: Speakeasy Brewery. It was a nice afternoon. The catering was super, the beer was stellar, of course, but the best part was the gift assignment!

A & K are very green earth conscious types so they requested that, if one felt compelled to give them a gift at all, all gifts should be recycled or handmade. MD and I had lots of fun trying to come up with a homemade gift. We wanted it to be something twin themed, but not corny, and something we could work on together. We thought and thought and finally came up with the idea of personalized rock-and-roll onesies.

It was tough thinking of two sets of twin and rock-and-roll themes. We wanted pairs of words or images that could work together as a set but could also stand alone. I came up with these:

These were MD's idea. (That's a Fender Twin amp.)

The onsies came from the thrift store and we had iron-on transfer paper left over from another project. We wrapped our gift in a shoe box with wrapping paper I'd saved from my birthday gifts. Total expenditure: $4. Total brand-new "stuff" purchased for this gift: Not one thing. Win!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blue "Rosie" Overalls

When I bought the fabric for the brown overalls, JoAnnne was having a big sale on Linen. I got four yards of denim-blue linen too. I had originally intended to make another pair of overalls out of this pattern.

But when it came right down to it, I wasn’t sure that I was skillful enough to alter them to look the way I wanted. I wanted to flatten out the back panel and omit the pockets. It seemed like it would be easy, but I fiddled with the pattern paper for a bit and then decided I’d rather make something simple that I didn’t have to futz with much at all. So I chose this pattern instead.

It was super duper easy. I’m really starting to like making overalls and jumpers!

Because it is a teen size, I was concerned that the bib wouldn’t cover my chest enough. I widened it by making the bib seam allowances half an inch all around instead of a full inch as was suggested by the pattern. I thought the back section might come out too low so I made it taller in the same way: I just reduced the seam allowance at the top edge. I am a terrible cheat!

I skipped the overall hook thingies and used white buttons instead. I decided to have the straps on the outside of the bib and sewed the ends into little points.* I feel like I saw this on lots of the 1940s overalls on the Life Photo Archive but I can't seem to duplicate my search now to show you. Anyway, I think it’s a cute touch.

Here they are finished and dressed up! I really like the way they came out!


...and back.

*Edited to add: I ended up having to shorten the straps and had to cut off the point detail. Boo. :(

Monday, November 30, 2009

Comments, Outfit Post, Thanksgiving

I've been slacking so you get three posts in one!

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For some reason I've been getting lots of spam in my comments so I've changed all comments to "moderated." You will still be able to comment, but I'll have to approve them before they post. I plan to approve everything unless it's obviously spam.

If anyone has suggestions on how to keep the comments open but keep the spammers out, I'm all ears.

- - -

Friday night before last we went to our usual local swing dance hangout for a little dancing, drinking, and socializing. After bumming around the house like a schlub all day, I thought it would be nice to fluff up a little to go out.

I've been watching Perry Mason while I eat lunch every day and this outfit was inspired by Perry's femme-fatal/libeled-lady clients. They are always so glamorous!

I tried to give myself an early 60s bouffant hairdo. I think I got a pretty good "loaf of bread" going on in the back, but it only stayed up long enough for me to snap the photos. Even curled and back-combed, my hair is slippery! I ended up brushing it into a ponytail to go out.

1960s patent pumps: Thrifted
Nude dancer-weight fishnets: Leg Avenue
Pencil skirt: Newport News
Cap sleeve sweater: Thrifted
Copper-colored brooch: Thrifted
Double-strand faux pearls: Thrifted
Faux pearl drop earrings: Nordstrom

- - -

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

This is a picture of our thanksgiving table for two. MD and I usually have Thanksgiving dinner with just us, and then go see family on Friday. It makes for a very relaxing holiday.

I'm still learning how to cook meat after being a vegetarian for years. After four hours in the oven, my brisket came out chewy. I ended up putting it back in for two hours and it was much nicer. It took way longer than it should have but I'm still proud that I've added a new dish to my repertoire. Maybe someday soon I'll be ready to have the family over for turkey day!

I just want you all to know how thankful I am for your comments, even though I suck at responding. Knowing that you're out there brightens every single day. Especially now that I'm stuck at home job hunting and cleaning.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Home Dec III (Part One)

Inspired by our success at the first two home d├ęcor attempts, I decided to (finally) do something about the kitchen windows.

In our kitchen we have a breakfast nook (that’s where I usually take pictures of my dresses)and an area for cooking. I chose to do each area a little differently based on the color schemes already present. I’m going to present each area in a separate blog entry as they are going to be rather picture heavy.

Let’s start with the cooking area!

Here is a before picture of the kitchen window in the cooking area. Yes, those are curtain hangers you see at the edges of the window frame. As usual, my before pictures weren't taken until AFTER I was done. Disorganized? Yes! I was halfway done putting up the curtains before I realized that I’d forgotten to take a before picture!

We already had a vague red and blue theme going in this area.

Mod Wall Clock

Rug In Front of Sink (This is actually a table runner from Ikea, but it makes a nice rug.)

Hand Towels

Kitchen Stool

Our house was originally built in 1925, and (despite a recent remodel by the owners) the kitchen still has the original layout and built-in cupboards. I wanted a fabric that would be appropriate for that era (20s/30s) or at least somewhat vintage looking. I found this great red and blue print on It’s based on turn of the (last) century textiles from Portugal.

I decided on decorative valances instead of curtains. The windows, which look out on a shared laundry area, are frosted and I wanted to keep as much light as possible!

The valances were beyond simple. I simply measured off nine inch wide strips (from selvage to selvage) and used the rolled hem foot to finish the ends. I didn’t bother finishing the selvages edges, which are white. I figured they would hang more nicely un-finished and the edges would just blend into the white paint around the windows. Then I just stitched a casing for the curtain rods and voila! Done!

It's hard to tell from this photo, but the valances are definitely a little crooked. I need to convince myself to un-pick the casings and re-measure the widths, but I’m really resistant to un-picking things. The really funny thing, is that they are both crooked on the same end. I’m wondering if I can just pass this off as an optical illusion?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Outfit Post

This past Saturday, me and the Hubs were invited to go mini-golfing for our friend Tucker's 40th birthday. Naturally, we took advantage of the opportunity to costume-up in vintage golf attire.

MD's look inspiration is Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack.

MD's outfit (including the club) was entirely thrifted except for the socks.

I dug through the closet and came up with a 1930s lady-golfer look.

Shoes: Payless
Nude Backseam Hose: Leg Avenue
Skirt: McCalls 7523, made by me
Gloves: Thrifted
Belt: Borrowed from my Stop Staring Manhattan dress
Blouse: Choice (a local chain of Forever 21-like stores)
Hat: Walmart

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In Which I Am Made Redundant

My company was recently purchased and is going through a reduction in force. Unfortunately, I was one of the unlucky few who's force was reduced. I am unemployed. Gasp!

This all happened just over a week ago and I have been trying to get used to the idea of having to job hunt again. I am the worst job-hunter ever. Despite the fact that I am really good at what I do, I don't look all that great on paper and I always choke in interviews. Luckily, I should be able to collect unemployment benefits until I can find a new situation.

Until that kicks in I will be penniless. When it does kick in, I will be stone cold broke. In the mean-time, I've been trying to keep busy by cleaning my house, going to the gym, and sending out resumes.

...and sewing. Despite my lack of funds, I intend to continue sewing as much as possible. However, I will have to go on something of a sewing diet. My diet plan is as follows:

1. If I need fabric for a new project, I can only shop my stash. I can’t buy any new fabric unless it is to be used as a lining or a petticoat (or other essential accessory) for a garment I am actually in the process of either making or altering. I may not purchase any fabric to be used for a future project, no matter how pretty or inexpensive it is.

2. No new patterns unless it is such a totally insane deal that I will drop dead if I don’t buy them. For example, if I find a full box of uncut 40s/50s patterns at the flea market/thrift store in my size for $2 each, I'm going to buy them. I won't feel guilty and I will just economize somewhere else. ...and I will post them here, natch.

3. I am no longer allowed to buy accessories to go with a project I am working on. I must make do with the shoes, belts, jewelry, hair clips/flowers, that I already possess. This means no e-bay or etsy, no thrift stores, and certainly no traditional retail stores.

4. I am allowed to buy notions only if they are necessary to complete a project I am currently working on. I am not allowed to buy notions just because they are on sale or because I might need them at some point in the future.

Luckily, right before I was laid off, I got a big box of fabric in the mail from I purchased a bunch of navy twill and beige cotton khaki so I could beef up my work wardrobe. Looks like I'll be beefing up my job-hunting wardrobe instead. Le sigh.

I have three or four completed projects that I haven't posted here yet so there will still be regular posts for the next month or so. After that, I will post only when I have a completed project, or something to rattle on about.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baby Work Out

I’ve recently started working out again. It’s been quite some time since I got any exercise and I’m starting to “grow out” of some of my dresses. Not good.

I joined the local gym and I’ve figured out ways of tricking myself into going on a semi-regular basis. Not even trying to get into the insanely crowded free parking lot helps, as does trying to make sure I’m in the gym and on a cardio machine before 4:45 pm. If I show up any later than that, street parking is impossible, I have to wait for equipment, and the stretching area is jam-packed. Trying to get out of work in time can be pretty annoying, but forcing myself to go is far better than feeling fat.

I've discovered that I like to sweat a bit and the attitude adjustment I get from working out is priceless. I haven’t lost any weight yet, but I am enjoying it. Just going to the gym makes me feel slim, so I figure its just a matter of time.

The only thing is, I’m wearing a bunch of really old workout gear from back when I was slim so its all a little snug. I should probably buy new stuff that fits but I'm not crazy about the standard workout clothes that you can find in stores. Ideally I’d like something like this 1940s gymsuit (from Vintage Martini)

I love it! This is something I’d love to have for wandering around Fogville on (our one or two per year) warm days. I don’t think I’d buy a vintage gymsuit for working out, though. I'm not sure that old fabric, thread, and elastic could stand up to repeated workouts and washings. Plus, I think there’s an advantage to more modern (stretchy!) fabrics for workout wear.

The interwebs didn't have much to offer me in the way of modern gym clothes that look vintage. So, I decided to try and make something. I ended up buying some black sweatshirt fleece and this pattern:

Cutting was kind of horrible. Sweatshirt fleece is stretchy and wiggly. It moves around when you try to cut it. I ended up with some pretty odd cut lines.

Assembly was kind of sucky too. ANY mistake was a major problem because I found it to be nearly impossible to unpick the stitching. The thread becomes totally invisible against the fleece, despite the fact that you can clearly see the seam line. Ugh!

The sleeve instructions made no sense so I just rolled the fabric over and tacked it down. I made a second seam near the raw edge of the fleece to keep it from rolling. I think it works fine.

I didn't bother with the waistline stay in the seat back. I need it to be able to really stretch as I move. Instead, I finished to top edge of the drop seat the same as the sleeve edges: I rolled it over and made two lines of (narrow zig-zag)stitching. This seems to hold everything together and looks pretty good.

The instructions for the ties confused me as well, so they were ignored. I folded the ties in half, right sides together, stitched along the edge and then turned them right side out. There is a small un-stitched gap between the ties and the drop seat, but because it's on the inside it doesn't really matter. I don't expect the fleece to ravel. (Fingers crossed!)

Along the neck edge, I stitched the neck facing down too far and then couldn’t pick it out again. This prevented me from putting the zipper in at the right height and the neckline ended up a bit low. I put in some hook-and-eyes so that I can close the neck but it looks a little weird.

I had to stitch down the outer edge of all of the neck facings because the fleece was rolling so badly. While stitching down the left facing, I created a bubble that pulls that side of the garment in a strange way. I can’t unpick it so I guess I just have to live with it. At least the bubble is mostly covered by the giant collar.

The collar doesn’t want to stay in place either. I discovered that ironing fleece is pretty damn near pointless so I stitched the collar points to the body with a decorative button. This helps keep the collars from flapping up into my face, but it looks weird too.

I put some elastic in the leg edge to prevent the shorts from riding up when I’m stretching. I think I should have used slightly longer lengths of elastic though. The legs are a bit bloomery.

The finished garment in no way looks like the pattern envelope. I ended up with something a little more like a (ill-fitting) 1920s bathing suit than I’d intended. I think I need more practice with knit fabric. Taking care that I’m actually following the instructions couldn’t hurt either.

Here are the pix. Thanks to bad lighting and the fact that black photgraphs poorly, you can't see many of the (crappy) details in the photos. Sorry! In fact, these snaps make the jumper look pretty good. You’ll have to take my word: it looks a lot goofier in person. At least it’s just for the gym.


and back.

Oh, and I forgot to pre-wash my fabric! We’ll see if it fits after the first washing. Yikes!

* * *

For more information on vintage gym wear for women, as well as vintage workout routines, please see this article from Fuzzy Lizzy, and this post on The Painted Woman.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fruit Basket Bracelet Giveaway

To celebrate 150 followers, the Glamorous Housewife (over at Tales of a Retro-Modern Housewife) is giving away this gorgeous fruit basket bracelet!

To enter click here.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Patterns! And It Don't Stop

More Patterns!

No Gatsby for us this year, as it was the same weekend as the Cal Meelee. I thought this might work as a future Gatsby dress. (Why oh why won't I just buy a fricken 30s pattern like a normal person?) I'd have to make it a bit longer, of course, and do a little tailoring as its a bit 80s/baggy. But I like the collar and the buttons down the side.

* * *

Ignore the boring "lady on a cruise" styling on the envelope and focus on the cuteness of the sarong skirt. Also, this was from the thrift store (uncut!) for 69 cents and therefore totally irresistable.

* * *

I don't care if its 1980s "power work-wear". Its also the sexiest dress EVER.

Unfortunately in my excitement (thrift store, uncut, 69 cents) I did not notice that the instructions are in French. I do not speak ze French. Sacre bleu!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Brown "Rosie" Overalls

I’ll admit, I really wasn’t sure about this pattern. It looks pretty horrid in the illustration. Clogs! Perm! Flannel shirt! Yikes!

But the side ties really caught my attention and made me think, ”It has potential. It’s just a matter of the right fabric and styling it properly.” The right fabric came from JoAnne. Again, I went in for something totally different, which they did not have, of course, and came out with something perfect for another project. On sale!

Here is what I chose: A lovely striped cotton/linen blend.

Construction was rather simple. I actually read all of the instructions and followed them! (I am beginning to suspect that really does help.) There are a minimum of seams and I didn't have to do much fiddling. I was able to make these in a few hours over a weekend. There’s a bit of folding to get the sides and bib right so was important to iron every single seam just right.

The only thing I changed was the bib ties. I put on bone buttons from my stash instead of making the knots that the pattern suggests.

If I made these again, I would make the side gusset a little narrower. I have lots more room than I need to get in and out and I think they would look better if there was a bit less fabric on my hips. If I don’t tie the ties very tightly and pull the excess fabric up over the knot, they get pretty baggy after a little wear.

The bunched up gusset also adds a lot of bulk around my waist, even though I used a lightweight linen blend. If I was to make this pattern again in a heavier fabric, I would consider narrowing the gusset by half. I also think that the gusset could be left out entirely if you put in a zipper. You could still have decorative side ties, but the fit would be much better.

In spite of the issue with the gusset, I'm quite pleased with the result as they are very comfortable, especially in warm weather.

Here is the front

and back.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Other News...

I turned 40 a couple of weeks back, and I tell you, it’s very strange. I’m not really used to it yet. It seems a little ridiculous that I should be 40.

When I was a silly young thing in high school I thought 30 was old. What I didn’t know then is that 30 is TOTALLY AWESOME. When you turn 30 this magical thing happens where you no longer give a damn what people think and you are suddenly free to do your own thing. Even if, at 29, you thought you were totally peer-pressure free and independent, when you turn 30 you just ARE. Everything just gets better and better all the time. And then you turn 40.

Now I’ve left the 30s behind, I’m a little worried. Will my 40s be as awesome? They WILL, right?

recent post entitled “When Is One Too Old For A Certain Look?”, did give me pause. But only for a moment. I had just one moment of wondering if I might have to rein in (or *gasp* give up!) my love of reproducing vintage sundresses and the like. Then I slapped myself in the face and got over it.

I live in the city of eternal adolescence! Our local “cool kids of vintage” are all much older than me, and they wear whatever the hell they want, and look great doing it. So I will too. Besides, I’ve always been “that girl with the weird outfits” so I don’t see why getting older should change that. I won’t be going all “Elegant Gothic Lolita” any time soon, but I am not afraid of walking the vintage mutton/lamb line.

All the worry aside, my birthday was wonderful. I had a lovely evening out of dining and dancing and general carrying on with the husband and his scooter club. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that starting the evening out with a cocktail (I chose a Vesper, recipe below) and topping that off with many, many glasses of champagne can lead to a big headache the next day. Not to mention seriously kooky drunken carousing. I had a wonderful time but still. Woo!

I may or may not have danced on tables, rambled on in bad Spanish to perfectly nice scooter kids from Madrid, or changed into my nightie in full view of the window when we got home.

In a phrase, “Boy, did I get stinkin’!” Virginia O’Brien explains it much better than I can, in this clip from the 1942 film Panama Hattie.

It was fun, but yeesh. So much for being a grown-up!

Here’s a recipe for the (deadly) Vesper cocktail.
- Three measures of 90 proof gin
- One measure of vodka
- One half measure of Lillet
Shake over ice and serve in a champagne goblet with a lemon peel twist

According to Wikipedia, this is James Bond’s drink of choice in the Ian Flemming novel Casino Royale. I thought it was lovely. It seems like the gin and vodka don’t really combine so there is a thread of sweet Lillet that flows in between the two. It’s delightful and refreshing…and very strong. In future I think it would be best to have one followed by a great deal of water…not five (six?) glasses of champagne. Lesson learned.

So I guess what I’m saying is, just because I am a now a lady of respectable age, it doesn’t mean I will automatically start acting (or dressing) like one. Aging isn’t really that big of a deal unless you make it one, right? You’re only as old as you feel, right? I need to get over myself and move on, right?


I leave you with two photographs.

Here is a (blurry) picture of me on my 40th birthday just before going out to dinner. I made the skirt and the top is, ironically, from Forever 21. Ha!

…and this is my hero. I found her on the Advanced Style blog and I absolutely adore her. Note the sparkly blue butterfly hair clips! I hope I am this stylish and fabulous when I’m her age.