Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kreativ Blogger Award

Hi everyone! I'm back and rested from our holiday (more on that later).  I am super excited to have received my first ever blogging award from Alyssa at Vintage or Bust!

 I'm new to both sewing and regular blogging so this is very exciting to me.  Through the blog I have met some amazing people who inspire me!

So, as part of the award, I get to write 7 things about myself that you may not know and in turn nominate 7 other bloggers for the Kreativ Blogger Award.

So, here's 7 random things about me:

1. I just got back from an amazing vacation in Perthshire, Scotland.  Many of you may know that I am an expat living in Scotland and this is the second time that my sweetie and I have gone to this specific place for a mid-winter vacation.  We stayed in the Tower House self-catering accommodation and it's literally set in a tower from an old chapel (the bedroom is in the actual tower up a winding narrow's very fun). 

The Tower and adjoining chapel (which is now used for badminton and table tennis) used to be the family Chapel of the Rollo Family, attached to their sprawling estate house, Duncrub Park. The main part of the building was demolished in the 1950's.  But this is what it used to look like:

And here's me in our game of badminton in the chapel:

2. I am the youngest in my family.  Here's picture of me when I was younger (note the shirt, hehehehe):

3. My other hobbies include listening to opera and gardening (sometimes at the same time!)  My favorite opera composer? Richard Strauss as the all-time favorite, Verdi for my comfort operas, Wagner for those heavy days, Berlioz for those romantic times and Rossini for the airy singing.  Favorite singers?  Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Florez hands-down. 

4. As far as gardening, my favorite plants include lobelia, marigolds and dahlias and I love growing root vegetables (probably because it's the one thing that grows really well here).

5. My more serious passions?  Public health and community development.

6. I've only been sewing regularly for the past 3 months and I love it!  I love hearing from all of you and checking out your blogs and projects.  It's been really fun to engage my more creative and crafty side.

7. My favorite decade for sewing is quickly becoming the 1940's.  More specifically, I am really interested in the year 1940 because it is the transition from the 30's into a new decade and also because of the escalation of the war.  I find the fashion of this year as a mix of many different influences and is a year I would love to focus on more with my sewing.

That was fun.  Ok, onto my fellow inspiring bloggers who I would like to award the Kreativ Blogger award to:

1. Mandi at No Apathy Allowed who is one of the most creative people I know and a dear friend.  I'm always inspired by Mandi's amazing photography.

2. Susannah at Cargo Cult Craft who has justed started an amazing year long challenge to do 'Fashion on the Ration' and recreate living on the 1941 fashion ration coupons.  Susannah also shares a lot of really great fashion history from the 1940's and is a big inspiration for me.

3. Lauren at Wearing History who was one of the main reasons I was motivated to start a sewing blog.  Lauren's blog is so much fun to read--she creates fashions from many time periods.  Plus, Lauren also creates reproduction patterns and has some gems on her site and in her etsy store.

4. Trudy from Sewing with Trudy that makes some amazing clothes and is creative with lots of other crafty projects too!

and three other new bloggers/sewers like me.  I love seeing everyone else's projects and these bloggers are very inspiring:

5.  Rachel at Boo Dogg and Me: A Sewing Adventure.  I love the colors and fabrics Rachel uses, all of her dresses look stunning (my favorite was the New Year's Eve dress)!

6. Kelsey at Is that Sew?  Kelsey just made an amazing first dress (complete with lining!!) that looks phenomenal.

7. Tilly at Tilly and the Buttons who also made an amazing first dress and had a great blog posting on a fun silent movies night (the photos were so much fun!)

It's been so much fun to catch up on the last week of blog postings from you all!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Off for short while....

Hello my lovely readers...

I am hurrying (at the last moment) to finish packing for a short holiday with my sweetie.  Which means I will be off the blog for a short time.  BUT when I return I will have lots of lovely posts on sewing to share with all of you!

Talk to you all soon!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

1940's skirt

I've been working on a 1940's skirt to match the blouse I recently made.  I decided to use the skirt from this Hollywood 1521 pattern:

I had to shorten it about two inches to fall where it does in the picture (just below my knee).  I made it out of a wonderful purple cotton fabric that has a bit of stretch to it.

Here it is with the blouse:




And here's a fun shot:

I did my hair up with criss-crossing braids:


The best part (besides having a lovely purple skirt to match my blouse) is that I think I have enough of the purple fabric left to make the matching jacket from the pattern.  Which of course, will lead to making a new blouse (like the one in the pattern).  The possibilities are endless!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sewing Goodies on Etsy

I love looking on Etsy for sewing goodies and patterns and have recently found a bunch of cool things that I wanted to share with all of you!

There are 3 sets, each consisting of 6 lessons. The sets are: 1) Streamedlined Sewing (I definitely need to streamline my sewing!), 2) Dressmaking for Good Grooming (interesting title), and 3)Featuring Tailoring and Dressmaking.  Looks fun!

I don't knit (hoping to learn this year though) but I often see tons of knitting patterns from the 30's-60's but I haven't run across any men's knitting pattern booklets from this time period.  I love the sweater styles!

This Apron Patterns Booklet (1945) is from Clark's ONT- J&P Coats. There are 15 pages and 21 different styles/sizes of aprons to make.  I love vintage aprons...this booklet looks like fun!

This amazing pattern book from 1939 has a photo on each page of the dress or suit for the knitting pattern.  It also has patterns for hats, purses and furs.  Wow!  It's a bit more expensive but I see the seller has a 'make an offer' phrase in the description.  I really gotta learn to knit!! 

This looks like such a cute booklet from 1941 on all sorts of fashion crafts for the home and wardrobe.  There are 50 pages with a reference index.

That was fun!  Ok, back to my own sewing :-)


Monday, January 11, 2010

Sewing Retreat Comes to a Close

My sewing retreat is coming to a close.  For my birthday I treated myself to the one thing I never have enough of: time.  Time to spend doing something I really enjoy.  I took three days off of work (plus I had the weekend for 5 whole days!!) and spent most of the time sewing!  Here's a few stats from my sewing retreat:

Hours spent sewing:  35

Hours spent plotting and planning future projects: 7

Hours spent reading about sewing: 6

Projects almost completed: 4

Panic moments: 1 (said panic moment involved stitching the waistband of a skirt on wrong--but it all turned out alright...David volunteered to take the really tight seam out with a seam ripper for me--he's got great attention to detail and it saved the day!!)

I've got some pieces I am really excited about that are almost finished!!  I am hoping to complete all the finishing (hemming, plackets, etc) by the end of the week and I promise to post some pictures as soon as they are finished.

On my birthday I also got a big surprise--David got me a new sewing machine!  It's a Singer model from the 1980's which I have named 'Lucy'.  It's amazingly fast and has a lot of features my older 50's singer doesn't have (like zig-zags, back stitching, and really tight stitches).  I love it.  I've used it almost exclusively this weekend and it has been amazing.  Here's a picture of Lucy:


Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Birthday Sewing Retreat

It's my birthday (yippeeeee)!!  In celebration, I'm taking three days off of work and having a sewing retreat.  David volunteered to cook all the meals, help me in whatever ways I need (pins, hems, fitting) and helping to create a sewing retreat space in our place.  I am super excited to get started--I've got lots of fun things planned.  Of course, I'll take a place to watch some classic movies in the evenings.....ah, I love it!

Every year for my birthday, I create a list of things I want to do in the following year.  This year my list is 33 things for my 33rd year.  You can see the full list here, but there are several sewing specific (and a few others) entries this year that I am particularly excited about:

1. Sew or create 33 things this year
2. Learn new sewing skills (such as a bound buttonhole, matching plaids, etc.)
3. Enter a sewing contest on Pattern Review
4. Take a sewing class
5. Read several sewing books and magazines
6. Sew presents for friends and family
7. Sew a winter coat
8. Learn to knit
9. Go to UK Knit Camp 2010
10. Try out new features on my blog
11. Refashion 5 garments
12. Get better at sewing for short amounts of time more often
13. Sew one historical costume (i.e. 1920's or earlier)

14. Get a vintage haircut
15. Try out different vintage hairstyles

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sewing Courses in the UK

Since I've just started sewing, I've been wanting to take a sewing course.  At first I didn't find anything in the UK but as I searched more...I uncovered several amazing courses and great resources if you are in the UK or fancy coming on a sewing holiday:

  • In Birmingham, there is the Gill Arnold Dressmaking School where you can take courses in pretty much anything from stretch knits to corsets.  As with other schools, the courses are usually over one or two days (handy if you are here on holiday).
  • The English Couture Company also offers dressmaking courses and they cover all sorts of couture finishing.
  • Probably my favorite dress school I found is the Alison Victoria Ltd School of Sewing and Fabulous Fabric.  Fabulous Fabric is the name of the attached fabric store.  What's great about the Alison Victoria School is that they offer 3 and 4 day courses on constructing a winter coat, an evening gown or your own choice.  You just take the projects you want to do and they are there to build the 3 or 4 days around that project.  Brilliant!  Plus, they are one of the only schools in the UK (they are in Leicestershire) to offer CITY and GUILD qualifications in Fashion, Lingerie, Tailoring or Corsetry at level 2.
Up in my neck of the woods (Scotland) there are two very exciting Summer events:
  • HATWALK is a registered charity that promotes the art of millinery in all its diverse and spectacular forms. The main focus of HATWALK is a biannual theatrical performance, which showcases the work of professional milliners. A core element of this show is the display of work created by students who have taken part in a HATWALK workshop. These workshops take place during the year and culminate in the students, and their work, being part of the HATWALK event. Each year the show raises money for a chosen charity and has since its conception donated over £13,000. HATWALK also runs an annual Summer School, usually in Edinburgh, with classes for all levels and abilities covering a range of subjects such as theatrical millinery, fantasy headpieces and couture. 

  • Also coming to Scotland from 9-13 August is Knit Camp 2010.  I love the name..hehehe.  Knit Camp is everything you would imagine a knitting camp to be.  Loads of vendors, a full week of knitting classes and the beautiful town of Stirling--one of the most important historical cities in Scotland (complete with castle and old town centre).  Plus, one of the courses is on vintage knitting.  While I don't yet know how to knit, I am hoping Knit Camp will show me the way!
While the sewing courses above are great, they are also a bit more expensive and further afield for me.  So,  I'm really excited that I found a weekly (2 days a week) drop-in sewing course nearby in St. Andrews.  You bring your own projects and the course instructor just helps you with things you are working on!  It's pay per evening, so you can drop-in and out as much as you want throughout the year.  I am SO's starting up this month and I can't wait to have some dedicated time with someone to work on some stuff.  Plus it's put together by the City Council so it is very cheap (£5 per 2.5 hours).  I'll let you know how it goes!!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

This Week's Fashion Inspiration

Wishing it were warmer....

This week's fashion inspiration comes from the McCall's June 1940 magazine.  Ah, June....Summer (sigh).  I'm sure some of my Aussie friends are wishing for Winter!

McCalls 3753 has been in mind ever since I first laid eyes on it. 

What a wonderful dress.  I love the interesting lines.  This is what McCalls says:
"Flowered taffeta or plain crepe--the formal gown is in both and is lovely in both.  It has unusual lines, and it definitely does things for the figure.  In fact one needs only to have good arms to wear a dress like this, for it fills out the bust, pulls in the waist--and hides collarbones and back."

Though, I find it hard to concentrate on the beauty of McCalls 3753 with the hooded 3771 sitting in the corner!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Introducing Betsy

I just realised I never formally introduced Betsy, my amazing Singer 15K.  We bought Betsy at the auction house for £20 and she was guaranteed to work.  She came with her sewing manual, a bunch of foot attachments and some oil.  We had to first change her plug since it was from the old UK plugs that didn't work in current sockets.  We also had to change her light bulb since the old one was burnt out.  Then we held our breath as we plugged her in and lo and behold, she still worked!  Like a dream!

We then found the sewing table at the same auction house about 2 weeks later, again for £20.  We think the table is from the 1930's.  It had a machine already in it that was horribly rusted and broken.  The beauty about singer sewing machines is that the based of all their sewing machines (no matter what decade) are made the same.  So any singer sewing machine would fit into this table.  So, we tried Betsy out and she fit!  The old machine in the table was a foot pedal machine and Betsy is electric but it worked out fine.

It's also great because the sewing machine can fold down and you can close the table.  Which is good since I don't have a separate sewing room but do all my sewing in the living room.  So, it's nice when company comes over to close the machine and have a nice side table!

And here is a picture of the table closed:


Betsy has an amazing plate on the side of her that is so ornate:

Here's another picture with the sewing light on:

Of course, Betsy has her quirks too.  There's no special stitches on Betsy (just the straight stitch) unless you use separate foot attachments.  There's no back stitching unless you turn your material around.  And she doesn't have the dial that tells the length of the stitches on the front.  So, I just guess and practice with a scrap of remnant material.  She doesn't have a tension dial.  Again, we use trial and error here.  Also, there is no length guide on the sewing plate (though I think I could easily remedy this by buying a new sewing plate).  But overall, I've found that I haven't really needed all of those things. 

I do have a buttonholer attachment from the 1970's that works on Betsy just fine.

She's a beauty and I love her!  Every time I sit down to sew I imagine all the women in the 30', 40's and 50's doing the same thing on a similar machine.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Relining the 1920's coat

One of my projects at the moment is working with David to reline an amazing 1920's naval coat.  We know that the coat belonged to a Mr. C.H. Dickens and that he got it in 1921 at Officer's Uniform Shop at the Brooklyn Naval Yard.  Here's what it says in the coat:

It's an amazing wool peacoat and the outside fabric is in remarkable condition for being 89 years old:

The collar buttons up very high so that if you are wearing a hat you will be completely covered except for the eye area.  It is made of a very warm wool.  Here's a view from the back:

Another amazing feature is that it has a sword pocket on the side of the coat.  We found a picture of a Naval Officer wearing the exact same coat:

The coat is in great condition EXCEPT for the lining--it's shredded, torn and falling out:

Here's a picture of the workmanship inside the coat lining for the inner pocket:


So the goal for January is to get this coat back in tip-top wearable shape by relining it, mending the pockets and putting new buttons on it.  It's definitely cold enough here to need it!

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