Monday, 30 May 2011

Continuing my touring adventures...

Tomorrow I'm jetting off for two weeks, I'm going to Germany to continue the European tour of "Hair", very cool as I have never actually been to Deutschland before. It's all very exciting, but obviously this means I may drop off the radar for a bit as I have no idea what the internet access will be like, and also I may be so exhausted that blogging will not be as important to me as sleeping... But we'll see what happens! I'll miss you all, and please don't think I'm neglecting you, I'll check back in as often as possible - I have loads of great posts planned, so I don't think that even being in a foreign land will stop me blogging to be honest!

In the mean time I thought I'd give you a little taste of the show, take a look at these fabulous on stage pictures (I'm in all of these, but I wonder whether or not you'll recognise me, I am spotting a rather different look to my norm!)

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius

New York City blackout!

Let the Sunshine In

It looks cool huh? :)

Bye for now, Germany here I come!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Another Knitting Project Done!

I have literally been on fire with the amount of knitting I have gotten done over the past couple of days, I have gone from complaining about unfinished projects to having two lovely new jumpers in no time at all! You saw my completed Briar Rose a few days ago, but this most recently completed project has been going for quite a bit longer, so I'm thrilled that it's finally done!

This jumper was knitted from the pattern "Enchanting in Black and White" from the wonderful book "A Stitch in Time", the third jumper that I have made from this book and I love each and every one! As you can see from the picture below I stuck to the original colours for this sweater, my version is pretty much identical to the pictures in the book.

The original version of this sweater

I love the black and white combination, it's a nice neutral look without being boring and bland. Plus the contrast between the types of wool is pleasing enough without over complicating things with too many different colours! 

This pattern was really lovely to work with, the different stitches (stocking stitch for the main body and then a lace pattern for the yoke and sleeves) keep things interesting as does the use of contrasting yarns. One thing I would say is that this pattern falls prey to a fairly common problem with "A Stitch in Time", and that is that it is only printed in one size. Now this was fine for me as the size on offer was my size, but I can imagine that this must be rather frustrating for those who cannot alter knitting patterns and who need a bigger or smaller size. This is an issue that is promised to be resolved in "A Stitch in Time, Volume 2" (have I mentioned how extremely excited I am about this book??!) which I think is a great testament to it's writers - they are giver their readers what they want :)

I paired the sweater with my red pencil skirt today, and although I liked the look I feel it would be better suited with a fuller skirt, so I think a circular skirt project may be on the cards for me some time soon! 

I below picture shows the yummy lace detail of the yoke of the jumper, and also the crochet of the neckband (my first foray into crochet work, and I enjoyed it!). I should probably apologise for how posy these pictures are, but I'm not going to :)

Jumper - made by me, "Enchanting in Black and White" from "A Stitch in Time"
Skirt - made by me
Belt - Topshop

All pictures taken beautifully by my long suffering Sweetheart!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Wednesday Wonderfuls #19

A dachshund in a trench coat. Genius. (source)

Hello there readers, happy Wednesday to you all! I hope you're enjoying the above picture. I figured what better way to brighten up someone's midweek than a picture of a dachshund? Particularly an amazing one in a coat! And a big hello to my new readers too, you'll soon get used to my love of the dachshunds :)

This has been a good week for blog posts, I've been heartily intrigued and inspired by so many of you! Here are some of the best for your Wednesday Wonderful viewing pleasure.

  • Scallop edging seems to be everywhere at the moment, and I'm not complaining because I'm loving the style! Gertie posted this beautiful 1950s scalloped day dress as one of her daily dresses, it is swoon-fully beautiful! Casey posted about her most recent creation, a scalloped skirt which made me start dreaming of one of my own. And luckily for me, Grosgrain's free pattern month included a scallop skirt this week! Hurrah, scallops for all!
  • I know you may be tired of me going on about "A Stitch in Time, Volume 2" - seriously I'm so excited about it! - but I had to share this beautiful video with you, which includes sneak peaks of several of the patterns included in the book. It's slightly worrying that I love them all, I may put myself into debt trying to knit them all... :)
  • From beautiful knits to beautiful food! Heart Handmade UK posted about Hello Naomi this week, I don't think I've ever seen more beautiful cakes and treats! I also NEED to make one of these rainbow cakes, that would make me ridiculously happy :)
  • Debi wrote a guest post for Tilly this week, all about increasing your sewing productivity, and - as I'm sure you know if you follow her blog and have seen some of her incredible creations - she really is the expert when it comes to these things. I mean, 18 beautiful outfits in 17 weeks! Debi you are officially my idol :)
  • And finally I just had to share a couple of outfit posts from Vixen Vintage. She always looks gorgeous, but this blue and pink ensemble and this cardigan and skirt get up really caught my eye this week.

That's it from me today, but I hope you all have a marvelous rest of the week :)

My Vintage Hair Diary - Part 3b: Taking Advice and The Next Step...

Well, what can I say? You, my dear readers, completely rock my world. Thanks so much to all of you who commented on my wet set post, I'm so grateful that so many of you were generous enough to take the time to share you advice and/or your own techniques. Clearly some of you are very well versed in the ways of vintage hair, and for this I salute you!

Now, I would have hated all your help and hints to have been lost in the comments section of my previous post, so I have decided to dedicate this post to taking your advice. This means that the whole of the blogging world can enjoy your words of wisdom, which I'm sure they'd love to do! So let's take a look at what some of you said about my first ever wet set...

What seems to be the general consensus is if in doubt just keep brushing! It seems that my exploding hair disaster may not have been a disaster at all, but rather a simple case of not enough brushing! Tasha made me feel much better about my mistake, as it seems she had a similar experience when she first started setting her hair:
"The poofiness is exactly what you get when you start to brush out your set. When I start brushing mine I look like a clown. It was the major deterrent for me when I first started to set my hair because I just didn't get how to work through it. Now I know to expect that stage and keep on going." 
I can't tell you how much better this made me feel! And she wasn't the only one to offer some helpful hints. Isis gave me this advice:
"When you feel you have brushed your hair into disaster, then you have to go with the brushing... It helps to smooths the hair downwards with your other hand as you brush... with a small amount of pomade on your fingers."
So what I probably need are some better brushing techniques! And time also seems to be a factor, insofar as longer is definitely better in this case. Debi says:
"If I want a 40's look I will brush it out...but when I brush it out, I have to spend like 30 minutes just brushing."
 Toni Jo also backed up this idea:
"Continue brushing your hair beyond all reasonable time limits. It does slowly shape itself into something lovely but it really takes a lot of brush strokes to get there!"
And you lovely people have even suggested some online sources for brushing out tips. Several of you mentioned Lisa Freemont (I have watched a few of her videos before, but I'm definitely giving her brushing out one another look!) and Casey also post a link for Lolita Haze (who has beautiful hair so she must know what she's doing!). From these videos I can really see the benefits of the "brushing against the hand" method, it really seems to work!

Another thing that several of you have suggested is a different kind of roller to help control my curls. Now this seems to be a bit mixed as some of you swear by the foam rollers, whilst other of you won't touch them with a barge pole, but a large majority of you think that I would benefit from using bigger rollers whatever kind of roller I choose to use. Angela also send me a brilliant link about homemade fabric rollers which seem to work fantastically for her:
"The curls come out very smooth, and honestly I don't do much but run my fingers through it. I use the lottabody too 5parts water to 1part setting lotion. Put it in a spray bottle and then sleep on it. Because the curlers are simply cotton and fabric, its like sleeping on a pillow!"
That sounds good to me Angela! I think I may try making a few of the fabric rollers myself, hopefully the bigger rollers will mean less of a Shirley Temple look and therefore more manageable curls! Plus anything that will help me sleep better is fine with me :)

Finally many of you kindly offered me personal technique that work well for you, and I'm eager to give them a go asap! Natalia suggested using hair serum to tame the hair beast, Isis know some people who don't brush their hair out at all and instead try finger combing (something I will definitely consider if I never master all this brushing out!) and Casey suggested that my problems may come from rolling my rollers up too far:
"Don't roll the rollers to quite so close to your head; this helps keep the crown area smooth (as was popular in the 40s). I usually roll mine to about ear height and just let them dangle. I'll usually cover them in a scarf when I sleep. Not glamorous, but it keeps things from frizzing!"
Now aren't you all amazing to offer me such pearls of wisdom? :) You have all helped me so much, I can't wait to try out a set again soon and put your advice to good use! This is my plan of action for taking the next steps in my vintage hair adventure:
  1. Brush, brush and brush again! If in doubt I will keep brushing. If I feel I have ruined my hair I will keep brushing and hope for the best!
  2. I will study some online tutorials to perfect my brushing out technique.
  3. I will make some larger fabric rollers and see if they give me more manageable curls.
  4. I will get some pomade and hair serum - mighty tamers of unruly hair!
  5. I will not over roll my hair
  6. Finger combing alone be the way forward if brushing out continues to be unsuccessful
There you have it my friends, my way forward is set and I can't wait to get going :) Again thank you so much for all your help so far and hopefully I'll be giving you another update of my Vintage Hair Diary very soon!

Bye for now :)

Monday, 23 May 2011

Sewing my first Vintage Pattern

In all my sewing adventures so far I have collected a great many vintage patterns (I just love how they look, I can't get enough of them!) but before now I haven't been brave enough to make one. Many of these patterns, as is the case with most vintage patterns, are partially if not completely the wrong size for me, which means that to use them I have to either scale them up or down. Daunting! However recently I purchased this beautiful blouse at a vintage fair and it was crying out for something to be worn with!

So pretty :)

I got this original 1940s silk blouse for a song because of a small stain near the hem, which I knew wouldn't be seen if I wore the blouse with a waisted skirt. Unfortunately I don't own any high waisted skirts... Which is when I remembered this little treasure from my pattern stash:

Simple but effective!

And luckily for me I had the perfect fabric in my stash too! This pair of red linen-esque curtains that I had recently found in a charity shop for £3! And they had a lot of fabric between them, so I snapped them up in a second. I also found some lining for £3 in the same shop, and because I already had the notions at home I could get a whole skirt for a mere £6!

My charity shop fabric - £3, oh yeh!

There were a few little faults in the curtains, some little stains and holes...

A few stains...

And a few holes...

But this wasn't a problem as I knew I'd be able to work around them :) And this skirt ended up being a cinch! It wasn't completely the right size for me, but I added a few inches to the hips to fit my non-vintage-sized bottom and slightly extended the seam allowances, and then when I sewed up a muslin it fit like a glove! I won't bore you to death with all the details of the skirt's construction, it really was fairly basic, but I did use tailor's tacks which was something new for me and I think they're a great way to mark up fabric! Particularly since I was working with a vintage unmarked pattern these tailor's tacks were a brilliant way of marking the fabric without it shifting about. Plus they look really cute :)

Tailors tacks! Fat and sassy :)

And after all the construction (well I say all, it only took a couple of evenings and it was done!) I had a lovely new red pencil skirt that went perfectly with my blouse!

Hurray for pretty skirts!

Cheeky back view! :)

It couldn't have turned out better! It's fitted without being too tight, and I really love how the colour looks (of course that may just be because red is my favourite colour in the world!). And now for some detailed views of the skirt (and please excuse the creases, I had been wearing the skirt all day before taking these pictures and I didn't have time to press it!):

Red Pencil Skirt, Front

Red Pencil Skirt, Back

I also did a lot of hand stitching on the skirt because it's something I enjoy and like to do, including my usual hand stitched hem, finishing the lining around the waistband by hand and doing a pretty hand picked zipper. I do love hand stitching :)

Hand stitched hem

Hand finished waistband

Hand picked zip

One of my favourite details would have to be the pleat in the back of the skirt, it's so pretty and makes the skirt look really chic (or at least I think it does anyway!).

Check out that pleat! Nice :)

Basically I love how this skirt turned out, and it makes me feel like a TV/Literary heroine that I recently fell in love with...

I'd love to look just like her :)

Perhaps I too should have a little matching jacket and hat to go with my skirt. Let's see how far I can stretch the remainder of that red fabric...

Clinging to a gate in Oxford in a pretty new skirt. Happy days!

Basically Me + Red Clothes = a happy bunny!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

My Vintage Hair Diary - Part 3: My first EVER wet set

Well my friends, I did it. I am no longer a hair setting virgin! :) It was an interesting experience with a rather steep learning curve, and I'm not quite sure if I got the results I was expecting, but hey I'm sure these things get better with experience, right? So here we go, the story of my first ever wet set.

Here follows some slightly bizarre pictures of me in my dressing gown. I really need to draw the line when it comes to what I share with you people! heehee...

Rollers from the front

So my wet set started with an evening shower before dividing up my hair into sections, spraying each with a little bit of setting lotion and then rolling each piece of hair under towards my head. This is a fairly standard set that I have seen used in a variety of different places so I thought it would be the best for my starting point, nothing fancy-smancy yet! I used just under 20 small foam rollers from Boots, and they were surprisingly easy to put in and actually very comfortable.

What do you mean I look funny?

The whole thing took me about half an hour, which I thought was not bad going for a complete novice. I'm sure these things would take less time with experience, so this would actually not end up eating into my daily routine if I decided to do it regularly, particularly since I'd be doing it at night when I have more time available.

Rollers from the back

All that was left for me to do was give my hair a quick going over with my hair dryer (or else it would probably still be sopping wet in the morning!), get some sleep (if I could!) and see what my hair would hold in store for me in the morning. Well, I did manage to sleep quite easily after finding a comfortable position, the foam rollers were a lot softer than I thought they would be! And this is what happened when I removed said rollers in the morning:

On the good ship lollypop...

Firstly, hallelujah my hair dried over night! Secondly, alright, please keep all Shirley Temple references to yourselves! As you can see my hair had a crazy curl going on. I always knew that my hair would take to the curl really well, because it is curly, so it likes to do what it does best! I just wasn't expecting anything quite so extreme!

Yes it still looks crazy from the side!

And if you're sitting there thinking, oh don't worry Katie, those curls would drop during the day, you couldn't be more wrong! My hair would stay this curly all day if I left it alone! Curse or blessing, you decide :) One thing I would say about this stage of the set was I was very surprised at how soft and glossy my curls were after taking them out of the rollers. They weren't even hard or crispy as the setting lotion had warned me they might be. They were quite pretty at this point! And then I took hold of a hair brush and things started to go slightly array...

Post brushing out

As you will know from my previous post I have never before owned let alone handled a hair brush, so it's no wonder really that my brushing out was an unmitigated disaster! I just didn't have a clue what I was doing. You may think that these pictures don't look so bad, but basically the more I tried to brush out my curls into the neat little waves that I have seen on so many other blogs, it just did what I always feared it would do, got big and bushy. Like a big old bush. On my head. Sad times. It also lost it's glossy smoothness and dried out very quickly, so it really did feel nasty and course. Not a good feeling! Nothing I did seemed to be able to tame my hair again once it had reached this state. I tried hair spray to no avail, and then I thought of trying some mousse but my hair was really too far gone at this point for anything to help. Perhaps if I had had some pomade to hand at this point I wouldn't have had a problem. What do you think, fellow vintage hair stylers?

Just before the hair explosion

As you can see from the pictures above, even after brushing out the curls my hair is still very curly. Perhaps if I had left my hair this way for longer these curls would have dropped and relaxed a little, but I didn't leave my hair this way so I don't know! After the disaster that was my brushing out I was rather disheartened, and the worse thing to have when you're feeling sad is bad hair! So I washed it and let it dry naturally. I know, what a wimp!

So here I am my friends, partially lost in a sea of vintage hair setting, and I stand before you asking for advice. From my experience it was only the brushing out that caused me problems, but I'm not sure how I could go about styling my hair without doing this without having to stick with corkscrew curls. Do you have any advice on other techniques? Or if brushing out is the only way, do you have any better techniques I can try or ways to tame the hair beast that might be useful to me? As always I so appreciate your help and advice :)

For now I'm going to hit the books and see whether there is a better way to achieve the look I want, maybe a different way of setting altogether is the way forward... Anyway, whatever I do next I'll be sure to let you know in my next Vintage Hair Diary!

Bye for now!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Briar Rose Knit Along - Completed!

Since berating my inability to finish knitting projects I have endeavored to spend as much time as possible finishing things up rather than just starting new things, and result! My Briar Rose Knit Along is finished! And I LOVE it!

Looking into the middle distance thinking:
"God my jumper is totally awesome!"

Isn't it the cutest?!

And now of some close ups of the amazing details of my beautiful new jumper :)

Front details

First up, the collar:

Collar details

I used Tasha's technique of picking up the stitches of the neckline and knitting the collar straight onto the sweater, I think it looks much neater than if I'd stitched one on after knitting it separately. Pretty stitches!

And now, the sleeves:

Pleated sleeve caps. Oh yeh.

I knitted the sleeves as per the pattern, slightly bigger so that to set in the sleeves you have to make a pretty set of pleats. I love them, they are so cute!

Next up, the buttons:

I love buttons

My perfect little vintage buttons are now in their rightful home, and aren't they lovely? They look really cute and pearly, a slightly different blue than the jumper but perfect nonetheless. 

 And now the final touch, the pocket:

This pocket rocks my world

I think that this pocket is my favourite part of the jumper. I love the shape of it, and the fact that it's worked in garter stitch makes it really stand out. It's cute, I love it, have you got that yet? :)

I think that this is a highly successful knitting venture. Never before have I knitted from a vintage pattern, or adapted a pattern so that it fits me perfectly (which this jumper does by the way!) so it has marked some pretty big knitting mile stones for me! I also really love wearing it, I've worn it three times already! It is perfect for the warm but breezy weather that we've been having. Basically I love it love it love it, bring on the next knit along Tasha! Because I'm going to be there with bells on!

I'll leave you with some more shots of the jumper, my goodness I love it!

Happy Weekend everyone :)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Frock Me Vintage Fair Review

A big hello to you all, I hope you're having a great week, I have another Vintage Fair review for you today. I do hope you're not getting bored with these, I just love going to them and sharing what I see :)

Last Sunday's Vintage adventures took me to Frock Me Vintage Fashion Fair Chelsea Town Hall.

Frock Me - with Pimms inside!

Frock Me Vintage will always have a special place in my heart because it is the first ever vintage fair that I went to, and on that occasion I bought my first vintage handbag, a beautiful french needlepoint clasp bag which has seen me through many an event including the POTC premiere. But I'm getting off topic! Back to the fair...

I have to say that Frock Me is definitely the place to visit if you are looking for something really special. The quality of the products on sale is really incomparable, so just a browse at this fair is quite likely to leave you breathless! On previous trips I have seen impeccable outfits from the 1800s, victorian corsets, beaded evening gowns from the 20s and a huge variety of flawless dresses from the 40s and 50s. But then of course for great quality you have to be willing to pay, and believe me some of the prices here will leave you breathless too!

For the majority of items you are looking at the bog standard pricing that is identical for all london vintage fairs, i.e. an original 1950s dress will set you back about £60. For suits or evening wear you are looking at upwards of £70 and for tops and jumpers etc. you would expect to pay around the £30/40 mark. However, the more I looked around the more I saw prices stretching into upwards of £70 for some items that I would not consider to be particularly special. I'm beginning to think that the people that price some of these things just look at what everyone else charges and then price up accordingly, rather than actually looking properly at what it is they are selling. I mean, it's fair enough to not want to under charge for a dress when you know that you could get more for it, but take this dress for example:

1950s dress, nice print, flattering shape
The price tag, £58

As you can see this is a lovely dress, bright print, very fashionable right now, very Mad Men and it was also in an average size (not extremely big or really teeny!) all of which are strong selling points which on paper mean you could get £60 for this dress. However, after some closer inspection I noticed that there were some small holes around the waistline of the dress, several of which looked like someone had tried to mend them (rather unsuccessfully!) with lime green thread. Also, the hem was coming down in the back as the thread had frayed with age. Now, I'm not one to shy away from a fixer-upper, but I refuse to pay nearly £60 for something that I would probably have to spend a couple of evenings at least repairing if I wanted it done properly. I may have considered buying it at £50, but even then I would have felt a bit cross at the thought of the repairs, but that seems to be the way it works at these things. Do any of you visit Vintage Fairs anywhere other than London? Is this kind of pricing the same or is it just the extortion of London town? I'd love to know :)

Well of course it's not all moaning and doom and gloom, there were some beautiful things on sale that, if I had the money, I'd be happy to pay full price for! Just take a look at these:

Just look at the lace on that dress!

I nearly cried after leaving this playsuit! I wish I'd had £72...

Jewelry, beautifully displayed

Hand embroidered muslin collar, swoon!

I loved the button detail on this 1940s dress

I nearly cut my toes off to fit these shoes!

Another thing to give some positive feedback on is that Frock Me Vintage definitely has the edge when it comes to men's vintage clothes. Usually the pickings can be a bit slim and if he's with me my poor old Sweetheart can end up spending most of his time looking through a tiny selection of jackets that are too big for him! However, whenever we have visited Frock Me my Sweetheart has left with something nice, including a beautiful frock coat and some fabulous riding boots. And even though he wasn't with me on this trip I spotted this original 1920s blazer that I knew he would love!

1920s blazer - nice :)

I also visited the vintage tea room at the fair, and although the food was nice the service really was pretty awful! We were waiting for almost 45 minutes to get our order taken after sitting down, I food then got to us at snail's pace and to top it off our bill was lost so we had to wait to be charged! Not really a happy bunny about that... But I did have a lovely cheese scone and a slice of lemon meringue pie so at least that was something!

Mmmm cheese scone
Mmmm lemon meringue

I would have to say that my favourite parts of the day were a couple of beautiful finds that I came across. First of all was this fabulous dressing gown, which I would have killed to take home with me!

Piping detail on the fish tail back, swoon!
Wide collar with more piping
Double breasted front with silk covered buttons

This dressing gown reminded me of my idea of transforming a dress into a Dita Von Teese style robe. I feel newly inspired! The second find was this beautiful Valentine's Day postcard, it was just so sweet:

The front of the card
The back of the card
It says:
Thursday Evening:
To let you know you are not forgotten though far away
February 14th, 1916

How lovely is that? It actually made me feel a bit emotional, silly old me :) All in all I still love Frock Me Vintage, but I would suggest that you go there seeking accessories rather than outfits if you're a bit strapped for cash (although I did see some brooches with prices in triple figures!). The £4 entrance fee is representative of the quality of goods on sale, but at the same time you may end up not buying all that much because of the prices, so whether or not you think it would be worth it is up to you. I would say that I was put off on this visit by the tea room experience and also I did feel that I was being watched like a hawk by several of the stall holders which I found more than a little bit rude. I understand that having a fair in a London location could mean that you might have a few more untrustworthy visitors than if you were at a simple village do, but am I really going to pay £4 to get in and then nick things? As a regular visitor at these fairs I did feel a bit insulted by this kind of behavior, but maybe it's just me being snobby and I should get over it! There just wasn't as much of a friendly atmosphere as at say Clerkenwell, but maybe I'm just biased!

Frock Me Vintage is a great day out, but you will need a big budget if you're looking to spend, or you may have to take a great deal of your time hunting out the more reasonable items (and you'll meet me there!). Not my favourite fair, but it will always have a special place in my heart :)

I hope that you've enjoyed my little series of vintage fair reviews, I'm wondering if any of you would be interested in a vintage fair calendar of some kind, so that if you'd like to you could visit some yourselves? I'd also like to look further afield than just London and the surrounding areas, maybe taking a few trips to see what the rest of the UK holds vintage-wise. If this is something you'd like to hear about do let me know!

Oh and P.S. this was my best find of Sunday's trip:

A little squirrel brooch!

How perfect is that?! 

Bye for now :)
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