Thursday, August 30, 2012

So Retro It's In Right Now

I've had my head down over a bunch of vintage patterns lately, doing some restoration work, and also making a few of them. This has been my favorite, so I've had cap sleeves and giant shoulders and trendy scallop necklines on the brain:
So it took me a moment to notice when a coworker walked by wearing this....

That apparently, the late 1930s and 1940s are IN.  Holy crap.  If I finish this dress in the next few weeks, I could wear it and be fashionable both among reenactors and... among HIPSTERS.

And then there's the Sheer thing. At some point I need to braindump about all the amazing sheer dresses, but until then I have a Picasa album squirreled away with a bunch of it.   But I give you:

Exhibit A: Vintage.

Exhibit B: Modern.

Whatever is old is new again, baby!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Today, I discovered that the set of two giant bound periodical volumes that have been taking up space in my bookshelves, the ones that I thought until last night were mostly advertisements for fashion houses and fabric mills, are actually... the entire 1946 year of the California Stylist. Just like Vogue is today, the first *hundred pages* of each issue are nothing but ads.  Which explains why I thought it was a fabric merchant's periodical.

1946 is just post-war, and there's a lot of interesting analysis of the past decade's trends in the January year in review. Also, man, I wish we had some of these things today. Some lovely woolens in the adverts.

Anyone have any requests?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Collection Bug

It's struck again.

First it was sewing machines, then, thank god, it was just vintage sewing machine attachments, which are easier to store. Then gelatin molds. Now it's vintage patterns.

I blame that one really awesome Anne Adams pattern, which was in just not quite the right size. Or was it the playsuit one, where I was able to resize the pattern pieces just by moving them over?  At any rate, I've been bit, and bit bad.

How bad?  Well... bad enough that I'm seriously considering trying to develop either a database or some sort of taggable webform so I could actually keep track of the dang things. We're talking in the hundred-something, at this point. The problem that necessitates tagging is that I never know why I'll be looking for a specific pattern. Am I looking for an example of the cutting instructions from a specific mail-order company? Do I want to make a robe or a dress for specific function? Am I looking for a year, or range of years?  Am I searching for a slip or other underwear pattern?

If there are any of you out there with a similar issue, what do you do to catalog your collections?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Costume College 2012

It was a great year. Perhaps not *quite* as magical as last year, but really, what could possibly follow that?  This year was epic in its own right. Sadly, there aren't lots of pictures to go around, but I can tell you what I wore at least.

-Thursday's Carmen Miranda party, I wore the 1940s Hawaiian playsuit. No pictures.
-Friday I dressed in my Kentwell kit. No (usable) pictures. Oh heck, here, have one from Kentwell proper anyway.
Courtesy Aurie Bradley
-Friday night I wore the 1960s Jiffy tiki dress. (It was an entire blue ensemble! Hilarious! I'm going to have to get more pictures of this one later.)
Courtesy Marion McNealy
-Saturday day I wore the revamped bicycling costume, though it's still not quite right. (Again, no pictures)
-Saturday night I went all out in my tux drag kit. It was pretty draggy. Somehow my tux chafe marks faded by the next day.
Courtesy Amy Liebert
-LATE Saturday night I changed into a modern dress and combat boots and did some real dancing. No pictures of that, because honestly I think most of the attendees felt I was cheating. Whatever - I was there to dance.
-Sunday was 1930s undies in the morning, then the 1930s day dress (which I really loved - so comfy and flattering!) No pictures, again. :\
-Sunday afternoon a few of us got into historic bathing suits, and I reprised the 1930s woolen suit.

Courtesy Rebecca Maiten
Really, the outfits weren't the highlight (though zomg I am going to have to make more 1930s, that stuff ROCKS), but it was a) getting rid of a bunch of books (that weren't there in the morning for Bargain Basement, so I assume they found good homes) b) buying a 1863 bound copy of Petersen's Magazine, with tinted fashion plates intact, and c) winning the silent auction for the 1930s girdle (mislabeled as 1910s).  So I left with less stuff than I came with (though blame the humidity or something, it didn't pack up as gracefully as it did the first time).

The garment district trip was somewhat restrained, which was okay actually. We went to the FIDM scholarship store and I got some amazing lavender taffeta and some gold mesh. Then the District proper and I got two lengths of woolen for a super seeeecret project, some absolutely lovely washed Irish linen, some sheer striped cotton, and this weird silk and gold brocade that will make a rockin' brustfleck on a German gown... someday.

Oh right, and I should say - I think I'm going to make a German kit. Aiie. I should finish my English fitted gown first though, and let that be finally wrapped up and done with.

Plans for next year?  Well, I wasn't super happy with the lack of new classes, so I have ideas for some I could teach.  Restoring vintage patterns, sewing vintage patterns - I can actually provide examples, because I'm not actually selling reproductions so I'm in no way interested in preventing you from DIYing it. Sewing machine repair and troubleshooting?  Overview of Fancy Dress?  Or maybe a class on lacing strips, maaaaybe?