Friday, June 25, 2010

Awesomeness and The Shanghai Dress

I have the nicest friends in the world. They are always giving me little gifts " just because." I am truly lucky and I really value my friendships.

My friend Yo went to Shanghai (for the world expo) and she brought me back this gorgeous strand of pink shell pearls. I love them so much! Thanks Yo! You are awesome!

Its hard to tell in the photo but they are the softest shade of pink. Isn't the clasp gorgeous?

I wore them to an event at the Asian Art Museum earlier this month. The event was called The Shanghai Dress and was a celebration of a traditional style of dress made in Shanghai called a quipao (pronounced chee-pao, which I only mention because I walked around saying key-pao until someone corrected me). You can read more about it here. I was particularly interested in this event because designer Jane Zhu was presenting a talk and fashion show!

Attendees of the event were encouraged to wear their own quipao. I have one made of bright blue satin, from when I was a bridesmaid, but I was afraid I'd be overdressed. Instead I wore a Chinese inspired t-shirt (there is a mandarin collar hidden under all that hair) with a pencil skirt.

The exhibit was small but there was so much to see! I was particularly taken by how much Shanghai art and fashion was influenced by the West from the 1930s up until the communist revolution. It was fascinating to see so many images of Chinese life painted in the style of Monet, Picasso and other Western artists.

Jane Zhu's talk as great! She told us how she she became fascinated with qipao by watching movies like In the Mood for Love and The World of Suzy Wong. Her curiosity lead her to an apprenticeship with a dressmaker Shanghai who taught her the art of making qipao. She produces seasonal collections like any other designer, but those collections really are just "for show." Each qipao she makes for sale is custom-created for the client. She's not so much a fancy-pants designer as a passionate fiber-artist with a taste for vintage style. (Just like us!)

I thought the most interesting part of her talk was when she explained, using a muslin on a form, how meticulously each quipao is measured to match all the of the curves of a woman's body. A perfect qipao will fit like a second skin and not pull, crease, or bulge when you walk, sit, (dance!) or move in any other way. Sometimes the dressmaker will even use a tailor's ham to bend the fabric into the clients exact curves!

Photography of the fashion show was allowed, but without flash. Unfortunately I still don't quite understand the settings on my camera so my flash-less pictures came out like this.
Luckily, the museum set up a flickr page for the event. Follow the link below and enjoy!

We had a wonderful time at this event! Now am inspired to pull out the 1970s qipao pattern I have in my stash and make a go of it. Fit is not my best skill so I'm a little intimidated but it would be a fun long-term project.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Giveaway Winner Miss Patti Darling

Thanks everyone who entered the giveaway! I enjoyed reading all your comments! Now that it's over, I wish I could give a prize to ALL of you just for commenting.

I've used a random number generator to pick the winner:

...and the winner is: Miss Patti Darling!

Miss Patti, hop on over to my profile and send me an email with your mailing information. I'll pop your prize in the mail ASAP!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

100+ Followers = A Giveaway!!!

Well, would you look at that? I have 100+ followers. When I started this blog two years ago, I didn't really expect anyone to want to follow it.

Initially, this space was just a way to keep myself focused on my sewing. My projects were photographed on a dress form and it was a long time before I was ready to put myself in the pictures. When I finally did start photographing myself, I made a concentrated effort not to put too much thought into my photos. Mostly I'd just get up from the sewing table, put on some shoes, pull my hair back and snap a few quick shots. I think I was worried that it would seem self-centered to try to look too put together. That, and I was afraid that I'd be ridiculed for getting things wrong era-wise or not being enough of a super-fabulous pin-up type girl.

Then I discovered so many other vintage and sewing blogs where people do write about their lives, or how sewing and wearing vintage makes them feel, and blogs in which people are brave enough to just do simple daily outfit posts. I have been SO inspired by the vintage and sewing blogging communities. You've helped me to put a little more of myself in the picture, literally, and I've begun to write about other things in my life besides sewing (although I'm still shy). It's been surprising and wonderful to discover that there is so much support out there for this silly little hobby/lifestyle of ours. Seems like we all want each other to succeed. How cool is that?

I want to thank you all for supporting me and for supporting each other. Y'all have been nothing but nice to me and its been great. In the future I vow to do better at responding to your comments and I might even try to post more than once a week.

Now for the giveaway!

I will be giving away everything you see here: a raspberry brooch, a pair of bamboo hoop dangle earrings, and a pretty red garrison cap (all made by me), as well as this lovely pattern.

The giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere, with a proper mailing address, and ends June 23rd at midnight PDT. Simply comment on this post to enter. I'll draw one name at random and post the result on Thursday June 24th. Good luck!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You, Sans Vintage

Mary Deluxe recently asked (dared, actually) all of her followers to post a picture of themselves in non-vintage gear. So here's one of me in the sort of thing I usually wear when I'm running out to do some last minute errands and can't be bothered to spruce up a bit.
I just got back from making an emergency bank run...and hitting the thrift store. Even though I'm NOT supposed to be buying any more patterns, I always check this one thrift store, just in case. They have a large selection of patterns, but its mostly 80s and 90s stuff. Still, every now and then you'll find a gem. Today I found another copy of a pattern that I mentioned in this post BUT this time the instructions are in English! Yay! I tried to be good and just buy the pattern but this awesome hand-pinstriped handbag (by RotHod) was only $6. What's a girl to do?


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Car Parts Road Trip

Sadly, it turned out that the engine in my little 4CV was cracked. While looking for a new engine, the Hubs lucky enough to find a guy in Los Angeles who was getting rid of a rusted out 4CV - the WHOLE CAR for $200. Hubs chatted with the seller and he was willing to ship us the engine and whatever else we might want, but since Los Angeles isn't that far away, we hopped in my little Ford hatchback and drove down over Memorial Day weekend.

We drove down on Saturday and back on Sunday so it was pretty quick trip. We tried to cram in as much thrifting and sightseeing as possible, but there wasn't a lot of time. On our way down we stopped in Paso Robles for lunch and we were able hit one or two thrift/antique shops. Here is our haul.
The tropical print fabric is a duvet cover. There is enough fabric to make a dress with a big poofy skirt, but I am kind of leaning towards a narrow sarong skirt with a halter top. I'm not sure yet. The belt is either 40s or "80s does 40s." Either way, its spectacular. The ashtray has a Napco of Japan sticker on the bottom and is made of the most delicate ceramic. At $1 the red beads were irresistible. We had to buy the bar pourer, even though ($18!) it was the most expensive thing we purchased. We have several of these already, but none with the original box and we are suckers for anything with the original box. Liquor will NOT be flowing through this pourer, but it will look nice on our bar.

Picking up the parts was fun. Gene, the seller, was super nice and let us take everything we wanted. We filled the back of my Focus and made a list of things that Hub's brother (who lives in LA) would pick up later. You would not believe how much we were able to cram into my car. We picked that rusty 4CV's bones clean. Here is a photo of the Focus, in our hotel parking lot, packed to the gills with 4CV parts.

That night we had dinner with Hub's brother at the Formosa Cafe in Hollywood. Its a tiny art deco building surrounded by movie lots and the interior walls are covered with signed photos of actors. Its got a definite "old Hollywood" vibe. I wish I hadn't forgotten to grab my camera before dinner, because I'd love to show you how cute it is. You can see some pictures if you go to the restaurant's Yelp page. The Yelp reviews aren't great, but we had a really good dinner...and some very strong drinks.

After dinner we popped over to Silverlake to meet up with my friend Dave Deluxe who works at a bar called Thirsty Crow. There was a huge line of hipsters all the way down the block waiting to get in. Although Dave offered to "sneak us in" we demurred. Instead, we called it an early night and went back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

The next morning, after a quick breakfast at Fred 62, we hopped on the freeway for home. We stopped for Lunch at Pea Soup Andersen's. You can read the history of Pea Soup Andersen's here.

If you've ever driven the 5 (or the 101) between Los Angeles and San Francisco, you will have seen billboards, like the one above, with Hap-Pea and Sweet-Pea: two chefs splitting a pea with a wedge and a sledgehammer. The soup is good and its really the only fun vintagey tourist trap kind of place on Interstate 5 south of Fogville. (Please tell me if you know of any others!) The Hubs was REALLY excited to be there.

He insisted that we buy something kitchy from the gift shop. Unfortunately, most of the gift shop stuff was pretty awful: typical truck stop junk like key chains with your name on them and generic coloring books for the kids. BUT! We were able to find a Hap-pea & Sweet-Pea bank. It now occupies a place of honor on our bookshelf.
A few hours later, we were back home in Fogville. I hope that we'll be able to go back to L.A. sometime soon for a real visit. Its an easy (if long) drive from Fogville and I'd like to spend some more time thrifting and sightseeing.

Oh, in case you are curious, this is everything that we were able to squeeze in to the Focus. Amazing!