Sunday 24 April 2011

New skirt and an Easter bonnet

I ran this skirt up yesterday, using some old gingham and Gertie's gathered skirt instructions.
Seriously people, if you have 3 hours and 2m fabric laying around you can make this too. It's the baked beans on toast of the sewing world.
I lined this skirt with some plain white cotton because it was too light to wear on its own. It's ended up with a nice weight and is still very soft. I'm really pleased with it.
I decided to wear it out today with my handmade top and a bonnet style hat I found at a flea market last year. My butterfly brooch, which you can't see to well here, got an outing too. I've been all about the brooches recently. They're great for dressing up an outfit.
We went out to a friend's bbq and had a great time drinking wine in the sunshine and setting fire to things.
Meg came to see me while I was taking the photos. She's spent the day hunting big game like spiders and butterflies and is now dreaming deeply on the sofa.

Friday 22 April 2011

Battle of the Chaps

In case you hadn’t already spotted it, tickets for the Chap Olympiad have gone one sale.
I’ve snapped a pair up for the hubby and me and am planning what to wear right now! It has to be light and summery, pretty enough to compete with the very well groomed regular participants and practical for all day drinking whilst sitting on a rug. Might be a tough call!

I’ve been wanting to attend for 2 years now but have always had prior engagements, so I’m very excited about going this year. Take a look here, here and here for pictures of previous years’ festivities.

Fleur does the cucumber toss at Vintage at Goodwood
This year the Olympiad is taking place on the 16th July from 12pm-11pm in Bedford Square in London.

Friday 15 April 2011

Happy hair

Just a very quick post today to share my amazing hair news…
On Wednesday night, feeling tired and ready for bed I showered and got into my jammies to watch Mad Men before turning in. As I was drying my hair I thought that I might as well try something new to curl my hair and went to dig out my unused foam rollers. I could only find 5, but figured I’d try it anyway.
With my hair only slightly damp I put the curlers in, curling straight up to the hair line and tied a scarf round the lot.
And this is what I ended up with in the morning.

Cute no? I really like the peek-a-boo wave on my left side.
Amazingly, despite putting no product at all on my hair, it’s only dropped very slightly all day. I’m amazed, it has to be an effect of the perm because this would never have happened before.
The curlers were only mildly uncomfortable and didn’t really bother me at all – I could happily sleep in them every night. Plus, putting 5 curlers in is 3 minutes work. It couldn’t be easier.

I also thought I'd add this photo. This is today, after sleeping in in - no curlers or scarves or anything. I'm stunned how well it's lasted with no product and I love my 'Lara Turner' wave!

Thursday 14 April 2011

Giveaway winners

I've finally got round to looking through the entries to my giveaway.
Thank you to everyone who entered, I really enjoyed reading your descriptions of places to visit and am very tempted to see them all now!
The competition is close, with people winning by half points but I did finally pick a winner for each prize;

The winner of the necklace is...

Perdita! She described London in all its glory.

Why visit London? Why bother staying in the UK... well, I would have said that a few years ago myself. Then we had to save for a wedding and home, so no holidays. Over the last few years my home town has thrown up, time and again, new opportunities and interests: quirky museums, thriving markets, kooky bars, lectures, free theatre, wonderful parks, libraries, churches/temples/mosques, shops and of course every type of food in every price range. Dr Johnson was right. The one downside of this city is that there is simply too much to do in a weekend: beyond the Eye and Tower, in the hidden streets and corners, there's a whole world to be found.

The winner of the book is...

Erika. She painted a very romantic picture of Sweden.

You should visit Sweden for the beautiful nature and the wonderful dancing! I would suggest a week at Herräng, the worlds biggest international swing dance camp (about 800 people calls it home each of the 5 weeks the camp is running). The camp is situated close to the beach, in the stunning archipelago of Roslagen, which in itself is worth a visit. 24 hours dancing a day for 6 days! The only bad thing to be said about Herrang is that one have to miss out on something in order to get any sleep =)

Before Herräng, as close to the mid-summer night as possible, I'd recommend a trip to northern Sweden. There's just no words beautiful enough to describe the light at night up here during June / early July! It's not the harsh daylight of the south, not even the softer daylight of the north. It's a cool, grayish, calm and somehow fragile light.
The midnight light is something no pictures can do justice, and words fall short. At least once in a lifetime one should see it... (Oh, how I'm longing for summer nights now! Writing this makes me wish for vacation when I can stay up late and just be). Just check out this post.

Then, of course, there's Stockholm, a very pretty city with lot's of nice tourist attractions, like the outdoor museum of Skansen. For anyone interested in history, it's bliss! If you have a week over after all this, I'd take the boat to Gotland, the island often referred to as "Swedens Riviera". Hot and sunny weather, long beaches, always close to the ocean. The island's medieval city Visby is absolutely charming!

Sweden is a beautiful land - but the selling point for me is the light. I don't even long for sun-vacations" in southern Europe! It gets dark there, after all =)

And last but not least, the winner of the purse is...

Ana! She described Route 66 and the America of neon lights and the Rat Pack.

While I don't think the central United States is at the top of anyone's dream vacation spots, there are lots of great vintage and antique shops here -- right in the path of the old Route 66. Its also more of a true American picture than visiting New York City or Los Angeles or Florida -- which are the more glamorized visions of life in the US. Though given my choice, I would recommend seeing old Hollywood in California and Miami in Florida, Chicago for the architecture and "big shoulders", Las Vegas for the neon sign graveyard and the thrift stores which are chock full of old showgirl costumes and Rat Pack wonders. Heck, make it a road trip from Chicago, to LA.... just like the song!

Well done ladies!
If you could pop me an email at nementai *at* gmail *dot* com I'll get your prizes in the post!

Tuesday 5 April 2011

It's my Birthday and I'll shop if I want to

I turned 27 yesterday and was thoroughly spoilt by everyone, even though I went to work I had a really lovely day!
I decided to wear a home made outfit and so pulled out my bow blouse with my Simplicity 3688 skirt (I must make some more separates!) and threw a Marks and Spencer cardigan on. Pretty and comfy. I'm really pleased to be getting a range of handmade clothes into my wardrobe.
I'm so pleased to be going to work on my Birthday!
Since it was my Birthday I thought I'd relax my shopping fast slightly and get some more setting lotion. Yeah, I'm a rebel!

I saw my parents and grandparents at the weekend and had a really lovely family meal on Sunday. Everyone has given me lovely gifts too.
From my parents I got some Freddies 1940s workpants, Erin's book 'The Secret Lives of Dresses', 'Air Raids and Rationbooks' - a book on life on the homefront and 'Went the Day Well?' That's enough to keep me busy for a while!

My brother and his girlfriend gave me this great tea-towel and matching mug from Past Times. Aren't they cute?
My Grandparents gave me some money since they don't get out very much any more, and I'm torn over what to do with I use it to treat myself to some nice new clothes, or put it towards my debts? Maybe half and half? I've been looking at not only summer shoes, but also sunglasses, having broken my last pair at the end of the summer...No lack of things to spend the money on, but I think I'd feel bad frittering it away when I have a huge overdraft!
My work colleagues gave me some gardening vouchers, a book on growing vegetables and some brussel sprout and beetroot seedlings. I think I'm going to be hard at work for the next few weeks getting everything in the ground!

And finally, this was Tom's gift
The Janome DM234 overlocker. Isn't she a beauty? It doesn't look as though it's ever been out of the box, although it was advertised as an ex-display model.
I'm really excited about getting to grips with using this and I'm hoping it's going to help me make my creations that little bit more professional. Tom bought it from Sewing Machines Direct. Terrible website, great service. It came with 4 free cotton spools in black, white a cream, a set of scissors and some sewing basics like an unpicker and tape measure. And a free carry case for the overlocker. Pretty good if you ask me!

I spent the evening at a local pub with some friends. Nothing flashy but it was lovely to have everyone together and just chat away for several hours.
Happy Birthday to me!

Watch this space for the winners of my giveaway and a review of my night out in Shoreditch on Saturday!

Saturday 2 April 2011

What’s on the box?

As I’ve been doing a lot of sewing this week, I’ve been (half) watching a lot of catchup TV on the laptop while locked away in my sewing room. Being all on my own gives me the chance to indulge in some guilty pleasures and avoid sarky comments from ‘him indoors’. So it was that I came to watch ‘From Riches to Rags’ – the fly-on-the-wall about Lily Allen’s move from popstar to vintage clothes seller.

I should start by admitting I know very little about Lily Allen. I quite liked that song of hers that was successful recently – something about “have lots of money, lalalalala, something…funny” I think it won some awards (god, I sound like my Mum). Anyway, she was mostly a non-entity in my mind until now. The first I knew of her career move was when she got involved with the publicity for Vintage at Goodwood, actually a non-starter as it happened, but I can’t say it raised more than a flicker of interest with me.

I did hear through friends of mine involved in the buying and selling of vintage clothes the she’d succeeded in pissing off half the industry by rocking up to auctions and splashing thousands on all the good stuff. Living is easy with millions in the bank it seems. Still, I was interested to see what had actually (according to the programme editor) happened with her business and to look at some top-class vintage dresses.

The programme was a three parter and while the first episode left me wondering how clueless two young women could really be about business and basic finances, not to mention the vintage clothes industry, by the end I was actually impressed (particularly by Lily’s older sister, Sarah) with what they’d achieved. I imagine that most of this is good editing (we were taken on a ‘journey’) and I know that they didn’t do it alone, but I really warmed to both of the girls as their shop took shape.

I took some issue with their idea that they’d found vintage dresses that were really worth £100s on the open market. One Ossie Clark dress was going to be sold for around £250. When one of the girls in a focus group said that she’d be able to find one on eBay for half that, Lily and her sister screamed that it wouldn’t be possible. Now, granted, it might have been really special, I don’t pretend to know anything about 70s fashion, but the girl had a point. Ossie Clark dresses, in my experience, can often be found for around the £100 mark. In addition, unbranded 70s maxi dresses seem to be a ubiquitous item in all vintage shops for far, far less. I’m wondering who this girl is that is desperate to wear original Ossie Clark but not desperate enough to search charity shop rails till she finds one for £80? This pattern was repeated with other items. Items which were sat in a small office with 3 women smoking like chimneys next to them every day. I cringe to think what they’ll smell like once they reach the shop.

Perhaps real 70s fans would have agreed that £250 was fair, but her demographic seemed to be Topshop regulars and they were far from impressed. I guess that ‘true’ vintage fans would keep looking for reasonably priced outfits elsewhere, and that the only girls going there would be fashionistas looking for one or two items of vintage Chanel and Dior to add to a label filled wardrobe. They’d probably be happy to pay the price to avoid having to spend weeks looking through rails of stuff in other shops I suppose.

Now none of this is really a bad thing. If someone wants to splash £250 on a dress they could find for £80 elsewhere, that’s their business, but I felt it rather flew in the face of Lily’s original vision, which was affordable vintage fashion for all. She kept saying that she didn’t want people to feel excluded, by sizes (she pointed out that she herself has been a range of sizes over the years) or by price, but the white, bright and airy boutique full of pricey evening wear she ended up with seemed pretty exclusive to me. What they created was indeed a ‘destination’ shop, it looks beautiful, features a salon and champagne and hundreds of beautiful clothes. If I was passing by, I’d probably stop in, but I can’t see it competing on the vintage market.

I feel as though I’ve been more negative than I meant to be and what I really wanted to say was that I’ve ended up being something of a fan of Lily Allen. She’s obviously lost touch with reality, having been a massive star for so long, but she’s aware of this and is trying to get out of the limelight and behind a till, which is admirable in itself. I wish them every success and who knows, maybe I’ll even shop there one day?

Lucy in Disguise
10 Kings Street
Covent Garden

Friday 1 April 2011

Very, very vintage

The manic sewing that's been taking up all of my time is pretty much finished, finally. I've been making Viking inspired costumes for an event at the end of April.
I did a lot of research into fabrics, designs and colours and I think that while what I've made might not be exactly historically accurate, it works as a concept.

The white linen underdress, also known as a kyrtle is trimmed all round the neckline, cuffs and skirt with red linen and pulls on over the head. It's a basic dress made from 2 rectangles with holes for the head and arms. The sleeves are cut from 2 remaining rectangles at an angle, narrowing to the cuff. The triangles left over from cutting the sleeves are inserted into the skirt to give the shape.

The blue over dress is called a Hängerok, and is very much like an apron. My feeling is that being shorter and without sleeves, this top layer could be more cheaply and easily replaced than a full dress and would be able to withstand the brunt of a woman's daily life. The form that this dress took, though, is subject to much discussion and noone is certain what they looked like or how they were made.
There is plenty of evidence that Viking women would use tucks, darts and pleats to shape garments so I used box pleats over the bust and in the centre back to give some shape to my dress.
The straps should be fastened with brooches at the front, but I sewed mine on as my brooches are weedy things and won't hold the weight.
The side inserts again give movement and I found one source that said Hängeroks with pointed sides like mine have been found, so I didn't trim the hem up.

Since the dress is quite long and I'm planning on spending some time running around, I also made a tunic and underdress closer to what men would wear.

This is made with the same principles as the other dress but with panels set front and back as well as at the sides. To give it some shape I have put lacing in the back. No idea if this is historically accurate or not but it does look pretty cool and lets me keep my waist!
I'll wear this with some baggy trousers tucked into boots.

I've also been sewing for Tom. This tunic has been made the same as before but there are slits in the skirt part of the tunic rather than inserts. The facing on the collar was a pain in the arse. I got there in the end though!

I have another 2 tunics to make up for other people, but these look like they'll be pretty simple. I'll try to get some pictures when we're at the event later this month.