Thursday 31 March 2011

Vicarious Vintage Inspired Shopping

I'm in the middle of my shopping fast and needed a fix. Touching real clothes would be too much for my jonesing, so it was an online shopping trip only.
I'm sure you're all familiar with the fab clothes available at Heyday, Freddies of Pinewood and the like, so I'm sharing some of my favourite vintage inspired High Street buys. See, under the guise of sharing with you I'm getting vicarious spending done :)

Zara usually have a lot of great 1940s style clothes, but they've come up a bit short this season. If you're into a 60s Mod look, there's plenty on offer, but not much to suit me.
I'm not sure where the waist sits on these, but if it's close to the natural waist they could look great with a 30s inspired top.
Zara has quite a few stripey slash neck t-shirts. I think they could work well with high waisted jeans for a cheeky nautical look.

River Island has come up trumps this time round. The have a couple of dresses this style, which claim to be knee length. I'm interested to see if they really do reach the knee, but this one in particular is lovely!
River Island beige 50s embellished prom dress £44.99
 The same goes for this one - it's lovely but how long is it?
River Island brown check belted shirt dress £39.99
This makes me think of Edwardian styles, but also of the Mexican blouses that were popular in the 40s. I think this top calls for a broomstick tiered skirt or some wide legged trousers.
River Island blue print chelsea girl gypsy top £25.00
I really like the buttons and the waist detailing on these, nice for the sunny months!
River Island beige button wide leg trousers £34.99

Marks and Spencer have a limited range of interesting clothes for once, I normally find lots of clothes I like but not much today!
This shirt made me think of Katharine Hepburn, it's a great classic shirt.
Marks and Spencer Autograph Essentials Twin Flap Pocket Satin Shirt £29.50
The Roma range at Marks is higher waisted and a bit more generous in the hip! They fit me the best of any trousers on the high street and are where my trousers I wear most often to work come from. These linen ones look like they'd be nice for the park or walking by the sea when it really gets hot!
Marks and Spencer Per Una Roma Pure Linen Wide Leg Trousers £35.00
 Next I looked at Clarks for some shoes! I've been after some white sandals since last summer, and I think these fit the bill perfectly! They ain't cheap but I think they'd go anywhere and I could dance in them. What more could a girl ask for? Clarks have their usual great range of styles inspired by their own archives - I do go on about them though so I'll leave their range at one pair!
Clarks Orinda Cameo £59.99

Office have some nice sandals too. I like these in particular as they're not so high as some of the others!
Despite all those lovely things, I think the only things I'd like to go and look at are the Clarks shoes, the M&S trousers and the River Island blouse. At a pinch, maybe just the I getting less keen on spending money with my fast?

Wednesday 30 March 2011

My dancing shoes are on...

After months of moaning about the lack of events I wanted to go to and actually had a chance of attending, I've found 2 events, one of which is set to be a regular feature right here in Bristol! I'm chuffed and excited about having some sort of social life in the making.

First up, there's the Blitz Party in Shoreditch this coming Saturday. The tickets for these go like hotcakes and this was an extra date added very recently. Despite London being a pain to get to for an evening out, as it's my Birthday next week I decided it was worth it for a treat! I still don't know what I'm going to wear, but I expect I'll cobble something together in time.

Then I saw this new tri-monthly event in Bristol.
I can't say that the numerous Burlesque acts excite me hugely, nor does the 'fancy dress encouraged' line, but it has to be worth a go. I'm just impressed that there's some interest in the 40s round here finally. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's not all fancy dress. I don't think I'll make the April one but I should be there in July, with my camera!

I'll be pleased to get a chance to try out the swing dance moves I learnt at my class a month or so ago, I just hope I can remember something...

I've been a bad blogger recently and have forgotten to thank two ladies for awards they've kindly passed on, so let me now say thanks to Saphy for the Versatile Blogger award and Paper Doll for the Liebster award.

Thank you very much ladies!

Don't forget that there are 3 prizes still up for grabs on my giveaway till Friday!

Monday 28 March 2011

Sewing bows

I was feeling pretty tired this weekend, but I still managed  to get a reasonable amount done.
First was gardening, and some fun gardening too. We paid a trip to the local garden centre and spent a happy (me; boring as hell, Tom) afternoon looking at plants and having coffee and cake.
Once we came home I got to plant the seeds (my favourite gardening job) and plant up my hanging basket (second favourite job) but didn't have to do any real work like digging. Success!
Later that day I sewed up a top I cut out earlier in the week, It's my second time making the EvaDress 650 blouse (first one is here) and I thought I'd make some changes. I've been hankering after a pussybow blouse for some time and so I thought I'd have a got at altering this blouse, since the pattern is so simple. All I did was to extend the collar pieces by about 50cm past where their normal end would be, and it's worked pretty well.
When tied low down, the faced edges of the slashed neckline do fold up and stick out a bit, but fortunately the fabric, a linen mix, has enough drape that this is well hidden, and I have the option to tie it higher up at the collar if I want.
I decided that I liked the blouse sleeveless so I finished the armholes by facing them with some bias strips, et voila!
I wore it to work today with my old faithful work trousers and a cardigan. I'm really happy with how it's turned out for such an experimental item!
Thanks to Rebecca Jean for the lesson on how to tie a bow this week - it's amazing how something simple can be tough to work out on your own!

You may also be able to see curly hair in the picture. I set my hair last night and the front turned out really well. Sadly, the back had several pins escape and I ended up with a few straight bits, making the back look rubbish. In the end I couldn't find a style to hide the back and show off the front, so I threw the whole lot up in a clip. I'll get the pin curls right sometime!

I managed to spend some money on Friday, the first since I started my 'lent' thriftyness. It didn't feel as good as I thought it might, which is a nice revelation. Possibly. I realised, though, that I needed fabric (and no, there was nothing suitable in my stash, honestly, I did look!) for the Horrockses dress which I'm making for an event in May. If I'd waited till the end of the no spend period to buy it, I'd only have had a few days to make the dress up, so it was now or never really! Still, I got what I needed and nothing more, which is quite a change for me!
It's a lightweight viscose and the drape is lovely, hopefully it'll work ok on the rather structured bodice section.

I've also cut out the final pattern for my trousers, so I might finally take the plunge and cut up the real fabric this week...

Thursday 24 March 2011

Hair raising adventures

So, last week I took the plunge and got my perm done.
It's taken a lot of umming and ahhing to decide whether to get it done, and then where and what get done.
I did some online research, and spoke to someone who used to cut my hair. The online information was next to useless - there don't seem to be many recommendations for salons outside of London and the hairdresser just said "don't get a perm, it'll ruin your hair". Thanks for that.
So, in the end I looked online for a hairdresser who listed perms as one of their services. I wanted someone who was familiar enough with perms to talk through the look I wanted. Fleur suggested using an old lady salon when she got a perm, but I got a lot of blank looks when asking about perms in all the likely places near me, so in the end I went the other way and found someone young and funky who wouldn't try to make me look like Cheryl Cole.
In the end the hairdresser I chose works freelance at a salon near my work, and is Japanese. Did you know the Japanese are big into their perms? Me neither, but apparently they are.
I met her and talked through what I wanted, as well as showing her some pictures. She agreed that a light wave would be best for what I want and that this should help me achieve a better pin curl. She also didn't bat an eyelid at the suggestion of 40s hairstyles and loved the Lauren Rennells book. Win.
So last week I went back and took the plunge.
Here I am trussed up like a turkey, cooking gently.
If you've never had a perm (like me), the process is as follows;
1. Wash hair and put in curlers, use cotton wool to stop drippage
2. Apply perming lotion (this stinks, it made my eyes water) and wrap hair with binliner, cook for 15 mins
3. Rinse lotion off and apply another perming lotion, wrap and cook again
4. Remover rollers and wash
5. Dry and style

The whole process took about 2 hours and most of that was the rollering and drying, the cooking part only took about 15-20 mins for each type of lotion.
The curlers she used were Japanese and bigger than standard UK curlers apparently, we talked it through and agreed we should err on the side of bigger to avoid any nasty, curly surprises! She said that this was a 'standard set'.

And here's the finished product!

I know if doesn't look much, but my hair has always been poker straight, not even a slight kink, wave or bend anywhere in it. Now it permanently looks like it's been professionally blow dried, which is fine with me.
I think that when I go back I will ask for a size smaller, to get a tighter curl, but I am happy that this is subtle.

Here it is wet, the curl is far more obvious.
After washing I mostly dried it, added some setting lotion and bunged it up in some pincurls.
Note to self - smaller curls with less hair. Previously this sort of set has given me a curly wave and so was fine. I hadn't expected the curls to come out like this! The perm's obviously helped the curl to take better already.
Brushed out - the curl's held well.
And pulled back for a gardening session.
 The curls held well that day but did drop quite a bit on Sunday. Next time I'd take more care putting plenty of setting lotion on (I was a bit half-arsed this time) and more care making the curls small and regular. I am pretty confident I'd get 2 good days and maybe a third less impressive day out of this sort of set.

I would absolutely recommend a perm to anyone who's dithering - at the very least my limp, fine hair looks more styled and fuller when unstyled, and it's made a difference to the styling I do do as well.

It has made my hair dryer, but not dramatically so and when conditioned it doesn't frizz that much. A little serum is all I've used to keep it smooth.

Some tips I found about perms while researching;
1. Don't wash it for 48 hours after, same goes for ethusiastic brushing
2. Condition, condition, condition. Hot oils, leave in conditioners and deep treatments are your new best friends.
3. Nylon bristles are your new worst enemies
4. Use products designed for permed hair as they contain less alcohol and will dry your hair less
5. You can always have it redone if you don't like it, but it will do more damage to your hair, so think about it carefully before taking the plunge!

In case anyone's interested, my hairdresser was Yumiko Jones and she works in London and Bristol. She is super nice and really listened to what I wanted. She said one of the reasons she likes England is that people have individual style. She was interested in the 40s hairstyles I showed her and treated my demands like they were the most natural thing in the world. It's always nice not to have the justify your requests (why do you want pointed nails/half moons/arched brows?)!

Wednesday 23 March 2011

I've got designs on a pattern

Just a quick outfit post today. I'm prepping a post about hair this week - I went ahead and got my perm last week and have some observations I think might be useful. So watch this space!
This jacket is a 1940s one I bought from Etsy from a selling in America. The buttons are beautiful and sparkly and th fit is perfect. I wore it with a plain blue shirt and my trusty homemade skirt.

I've also made some progress on my tedious sewing-saga. Never have 2 simple jobs caused so much huffing and puffing. I'll be glad to get them done and crack on with something I can wear out! Again, pictures later this week.
It's fortunate, actually, as I've agreed to have a go at this pattern for a meet-up in London.
The dress is lovely, but the bodice is designed for the slim and boyish. My figure hasn't been described that way since I was about 12, so there's a LOT of adjustment to do. I don't know if I'll work it out before the meet, but I'm going to do my best...

Monday 21 March 2011

In the garden

I spent most of the weekend in the garden trimming, sweeping, tidying and pruning.
I'm still aching today but it feels great to have been outside in the sun after all these months. I've even lost my grey hue I've been cultivating from too much strip-lighting.

Flowers and line-dried washing. Could it be any more perfect?

 Planting seeds is so satisfying and exciting. I'll be checking back every day till they sprout.

Deryn and Meg love the sunshine, this is Deryn watching Meg discover the outside for the first time. She alternated between concerned supervision, and jumping on her while she was distracted. Meg discovered bee stings with her paw.
On Saturday night Meg fell fast asleep on the sofa with her paws and whiskers twitching away. Such big adventures for a little cat!

Friday 18 March 2011

Thursday 17 March 2011

I'm on Etsy

Just a quickie to say I've started listing some of my hoards of vintage bits and pieces on Etsy today. I'm going to try to get everything up over the next couple of weeks, one or two items at a time, so don't go too far!

You can see my shop linked on the right of the screen, or vist me here.

Saturday 12 March 2011

Giveaway gifts

It's giveaway time!

I've hit 100 followers via blogger, which I find frankly amazing. There are 100 people from across the world who are interested in my ramblings. Incredible! I'd love to say that I'm above such petty concepts as having lots of followers, but clearly I'm not. I like feeling loved.
What I find the most incredible are the range of countries the you all come from. Australia, New Zealand, USA, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, South Korea... I wonder how it feels to sit in some of these far away places and read about me picking ivy in my local park. I wonder what you can all see out of your windows.

I understand that it's traditional (can something so new as blogging have traditions?) to give something away upon reaching such a landmark and I'm not one to flaunt tradition. As such, I am offering a present to the three people I judge as giving the best answers to the following question;

Why should I visit your country, region or town for a holiday in 2011?

There are three prizes up for grabs.

Prize 1. A vintage coin purse. I don't know how old it is, but it has a very classic look. Not quite big enough for a credit card, it will hold your coins very stylishly!

Prize 2. A copy of 'Romancing the Ordinary' by Sarah Ban Breathnach
Inspired by Sunni giving away a copy of another of Sarah Ban Breathnach's books recently, I thought I'd spread some happiness myself. I love how this book helps you to get to grips with enjoying the small pleasures in life, a month at a time, and I always find it uplifting to read.

Prize 3. Singer sewing machine necklace
I made one of these for me this week and thought I'd run up a second to giveaway.

Just let me know when you comment which prize you'd like (you can enter for as many as you like!). I'll give you a few of weeks to think about it, so I'll close entries at midnight (GMT) on the 31st March.

Small print;
This competition is open to anyone, in any country as long as they're a follower of this blog
Everyone gets a maximum of one entry per prize - if you do want to enter for more than one prize, please specify which order you'd like them 
Entries may be via the comments section on this post, or better still on your own blog (please leave a link in the comment section though!)
Offers of free accommodation and tour-guide services should I choose to visit will sway my vote ;)

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Do Without - Day 1

Well, day one of the 'Do Without' challenge and I've managed not to spend any money. It's ok, I'm not expecting a round of applause. The first few days will be easy.
I have to say, though, that I found myself in panic buying mode for the last few days. I kept thinking 'I must shop now - I won't be able to for ages'! There must be something wrong with me - I felt the need to buy stuff I neither needed nor wanted just because I knew I couldn't for a few weeks. I really do need to do this challenge!
To help me I went through my inbox and unsubscribed from every shop I could find. B&Q was easy, Neals Yard Remedies and Clarks were far harder, but I'm hoping that removing the shiney 'half price today only' temptation emails from my view might help me to restrain myself. I can't do much about the catalogues , brochures and other junk mail I get, but fortunately there are few of these I get through the post, so I should be able to put them straight in the recycling bin. Outside. In small pieces so I can't browse their glossy pages...
Friday's shopping trip with my Mum is going to be hard...

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Confessions of a shopaholic

Anyone who's been reading my blog for more than a week will probably have clocked that I like to shop.
My New Years resolutions have gone un-reviewed so far because I have spectacularly failed to stick to the most important one - my resolution not to spend so much.

I love the Sophie Kinsella shopaholic books but feel a bit sick when I read them because they resonate too closely with my own thoughts. It's worrying and more that a little shameful.

I hope, then, that you can appreciate it is not without significance when I say that I am going to take part in the Midnight Maniac challenge - DO WITHOUT!

I am signing up to go without spending money on myself or luxuries for the house (i.e. I can buy washing up liquid but not cushions) for 40 days.

I may be mad, I may not even manage it, but I'm going to try. I feel like going cold turkey may be my only option at this point. I will be spending money on my Mum, as it's her Birthday next week, but I'm going to hold off spending on myself, even on my Birthday at the start of April.

I will make an exception for necessary notions for sewing projects I have on the go - it'd be silly not to make a skirt because I can't buy the zip I need, but I think that's my only get out. No browsing the fabrics while I'm looking for zips either! I must be strong!

I'll try to get at least one blog in a week charting how well I'm doing and whether I'm about to go on a mad Etsy rampage.

Wish me luck!

Give us freedom or give us death

Another sunny but cold day today. I decided to go for trousers again and my crepe 1930s top I made last year. It's lovely for snuggling into in the cold! I also got to show off my new bag, a gift from my husband. It's only a cheapy from eBay but it looks fab and has loads of pockets on the inside. Best of all, it's lined in a leopard pattern!

As you may have noticed, today is International Women's Day. As before, today passed with with me barely being aware it was anything special, until I went out at lunch time.
Bristol has gained it's own temporary Speaker's Corner and I arrived just in time to see an actress (in very nice Edwardian style clothes) deliver a speech taken from this speech by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1913. Apparently we missed the 'I Have a Dream' speech by Martin Luther King just before this, which I was disappointed about - it's a great speech which I know fairly well and I'd have liked to have heard it given by a strong orator.
The Pankhurst speech wasn't one I'd ever heard before. It was beautifully delivered but I was most struck with how powerful her words were, and how they are still relevant to not only women, but anyone being poorly treated by their governments today. It's a long speech, so I've taken some of what I thought were the highlights, but I do recommend reading it in full. This is especially the case for Americans, as it draws heavily on American history, being given in America while Mrs Pankhurst was 'between gaol spells'!

We were called militant, and we were quite willing to accept the name. We were determined to press this question of the enfranchisement of women to the point where we were no longer to be ignored by the politicians.

You have two babies very hungry and wanting to be fed. One baby is a patient baby, and waits indefinitely until its mother is ready to feed it. The other baby is an impatient baby and cries lustily, screams and kicks and makes everybody unpleasant until it is fed. Well, we know perfectly well which baby is attended to first. That is the whole history of politics. You have to make more noise than anybody else, you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else, you have to fill all the papers more than anybody else, in fact you have to be there all the time and see that they do not snow you under.

We wear no mark; we belong to every class; we permeate every class of the community from the highest to the lowest; and so you see in the woman's civil war the dear men of my country are discovering it is absolutely impossible to deal with it: you cannot locate it, and you cannot stop it.

They have said to us, government rests upon force, the women haven't force, so they must submit. Well, we are showing them that government does not rest upon force at all: it rests upon consent. As long as women consent to be unjustly governed, they can be, but directly women say: "We withhold our consent, we will not be governed any longer so long as that government is unjust." Not by the forces of civil war can you govern the very weakest woman. You can kill that woman, but she escapes you then; you cannot govern her. No power on earth can govern a human being, however feeble, who withholds his or her consent.

Human life for us is sacred, but we say if any life is to be sacrificed it shall be ours; we won't do it ourselves, but we will put the enemy in the position where they will have to choose between giving us freedom or giving us death.

If we win it, this hardest of all fights, then, to be sure, in the future it is going to be made easier for women all over the world to win their fight when their time comes.

Edited to say; And here's a video of the same speech, given by the same actress last year.