Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Vera Sheet and Leftover Notions

Someone donated a Vera Neumann full flat sheet to my favorite thrift store and I was lucky enough to find it!  The design, I think, is intended to be wildflowers and grass and is darling and Spring-like!

I seem to recall that Vera linens became readily available a few years ago through Anthropologie and I've found placemats and tea towels at Bed Bath and Beyond. Its a pretty good bet that this is not a vintage sheet so had no qualms about cutting it up to make a dress.  

The skirt is just a simple dirndl gathered onto a piece of seam binding.

The bodice is from this1970s jumpsuit pattern.

It makes for a very bare back and potential side-boob!

I used leftover seam binding and rick rack from the stash to decorate the bodice.

 Piping isn't too difficult but you really have to pay attention.

The bit around the gathered waistband was challenging and had to be re-done several times.

My one regret is that I didn't sew in bra cups.  The back is so bare that it doesn't even 
work with my backless longline bra.  The ladies are a little flatter than I would like, 
but the neck strap and tight midriff provide pretty decent support.

Rather than trimming the selvedge edges to make the flowers meet in the back, 
I chose to leave the white space in so that I would have more volume in the skirt.  
I like a really full skirt.  
This is me trying and failing to "swish" the skirt.  It is fairly full, though.

The design has more flowers on one side than the other, but I don't mind.

Despite being a bit OCD, I can handle a little wabi-sabi from time to time.
In this case I think it makes the dress much more interesting.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dotty Voile Blouse

In the stash my mom gave me there are several chunks of fabric left over from other projects; lovely stuff but oddly shaped and only suitable for patterns with small pieces. 

This cotton voile was one such chunk.

I was able to eke out a blouse by shortening it considerably, but I think I like it better that way.

The blouse is Butterick 7682.  ( Trousers are Simplicity 4401.)

I lined it with poly organza so that it's still filmy but not see-through.

This is such a comfy outfit.

I'm trying to look cool and aloof but really I just want to scream, "LOOK AT THE BACK!"

I couldn't wait to tell you all about it.

But blogging is way harder than sewing.

When you do your blog photos in the morning before work, 
most of your  shots will come out like this.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Wedgewood Swallow

My mom recently gave me a box of fabric she'd purchased long ago including fabrics from the 60s through the 80s.  I've been doing my best to sew it all up which has resulted in a dearth of posts.  

So busy SEWING!

This is one of the prints she gave me from, I think, the 70s or maybe the 80s.

It is based on a Wedgewood china pattern called "Swalllow."

To make the bodice, I used Simplicity 4347 from the early 1960s.

The skirt is a simple 4 yard dirndl.

I liked the idea of having the stripes both horizontal and vertical.  
Unfortunately, I was so focused on getting the layout right that some mistakes were made.

I neglected to shorten the bodice length and so it hits just below my natural waist.

The longer bodice means the skirt is an inch or so longer than I typically prefer.

 I made cute little bow accents for the front and the back neckline, but they blend right in!  Oh well!

It's still a pretty great dress.

These transitional 50s to 60s patterns are always my favorites.

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!