Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A review on Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing

I’m sure most, if not all of you, know about Gertie's New Blog For Better Sewing and so you already know that her book, Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing by Gretchen Hirsch. It is a sewing book for those interested in sewing vintage, heavily inspired by the book that started out Gertie's blog, once upon a time, VOGUES New Book For Better Sewing from 1952. It’s been out for a while, so my review comes a little late, but better late than never.

The book has several parts and begins with a chapter on vintage sewing and a discussion on patterns, vintage versus reproduction. Then follow chapters on preparation, techniques, tailoring, how to change patterns and fitting. The book also contains several multi-sized patterns and the last part gives sewing instructions, tips and tricks as well as pattern adaptations on them.

The book is hard backed with a spiral, which makes it both sturdy and practical. There is a lot of illustrations and additional information apart from the actual text. The writing style is very informal and the book is easy to read.

Pros and cons
The layout of the book is very pleasing and it is also a book that is unique just that it targets vintage sewing, but in a modernized way. For me, who has been sewing a long time and enjoy reading sewing books, there weren’t anything in the techniques and fitting chapters that were new to me, but that isn’t really a con. One thing that may annoy readers is the rather chummy style the book is written in. here is your pal Gertie who really wants you to love sewing as much as she does and she has a lot of personal opinions on it. I didn’t mind, but if you want your sewing book more formal and impersonal, then this might be irritating.

The biggest pro for me is the patterns. Considering what a pattern cost and what a sewing book cost, this book is really worth the money! There are also several blouse patterns, which I have been looking for. I also really love the wiggle-dress with kimono sleeves that utilize an underarm gusset for a fitted look. I have yet to try any of them, though I plan to start with a blouse.

The vintage style presented in this book is Gertie’s own style which is heavily 50’s with some 40’s thrown in. So if you are interested in other vintage eras, then you may find the pattern section disappointing. Also, there are no trouser pattern at all, which doesn’t bother me as I never wear trousers, but, again, may be irritating for those who do.

The biggest con is the fit on some of the clothes. They are all modeled by Gertie herself and some of them just don’t fit well while others look great. I suspect that part of this is due to the way they are photographed as almost all patterns are made up in two versions and one version can fit well, but the other one don’t. I really find this rather annoying and something that would probably be possible to work around.

I have read reviews that which for more than one model to see how the patterns would look on other body types. I don’t think it’s so odd, the cost of making the clothes in several sizes and finding models for them would probably climb rather quickly. And, after all, you don’t get pictures of more than one model when you buy a pattern.

To sum it up
I like this book, but I don’t feel that it is the ultimate book for me information-wise. I have other sources that are true and tried and which I will continue to use them. However, if you are relatively new to sewing, or is about to begin, then I think this a really great book. I really love the attitude throughout the book that sewing is fun and easy, so if you think it’s scary, read this book! And, as I have already said, the patterns alone make the book worth the money!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Bathroom dreams

I have mentioned before that we live in an apartment in a house that was built in 1954. Lots of the original décor is still there, but the bathroom was, to our big disappointment, completely remodeled. The previous owners were very proud of it, but we found it absolutely horrid. The lovely tiled bathtub had been removed, a shower had been installed and the sink was made of stainless steel and wood. If you didn’t know it, steel gets grungy much quicker than enamel and wood in a bathroom. Well, no matter how much you dry it as soon as water gets on it, which it does if you only wash your hands, will start to rot. And the tiles on the walls where slightly structured which made them harder to keep clean as well. So remodeling the bathroom was always pretty high on our list, but not quite as soon as now.

However, the whole house has undergone a complete makeover of the plumbing system and with that a new bathroom, no matter what. As the original bathroom is gone and some of the features of a 50’s bathroom is now out of reach due to regulation, like having tiles halfway up on the walls and then just a paintjob, we decided to go back two decades and go for an Art Deco inspired (not reproduced) bathroom in black and white.

I really wanted a checkered floor but the budget didn’t stretch to that, so now the floors are in black tiles and the walls in white.


 More annoying regulations meant removing the window sill and installing a completely unnecessary radiator at the most inconvenient place possible. The bathroom is small as it is, and now it is even harder to furnish. I am not very pleased with the company who did it- they could have asked if we wanted that radiator somewhere else and they almost put in a floor in the wrong colour, prison grey, instead. By luck J was at home and could stop them! With black and white in mind we started to look for suitable furniture and to our surprise we actually found what we wanted at IKEA!
The series is called Hemnes and we have already bought the cabinet and plan to buy these two as well.

We also really want a black bathtub but as I said, the bathroom is small, so we haven’t yet decided what kind of tub it will be. We really like the design of this one, even if that harks back even more in time. Oh well, I said inspired, didn’t I?

The last items on the shopping list are new black and white towels and then I will be able to show you our new bathroom.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Wardrobe musings

Still trying to come to terms with wearing uniform and came up with another positive: I will be able to drastically clean out my closet. I guess most of us have clothes that we don’t really like but wear anyway on the days when the dirty laundry is piling up. I quick survey of my wardrobe revealed that about half of what I have falls into this category. Clothes that are perfectly fine, but don’t fit as well as they should or have a colour that isn’t exactly right. My wardrobe space is rather limited and at the moment it is pretty crammed, so a clean out would be very welcome. I know I have sweaters, cardigans, dresses and shoes that I don’t really care for.
Lauren Bacall, 1945

So, what to leave? My favourites, of course. My 40’s wardrobe project, which I hope will be a little more visible if I get rid of my so-so clothes. I suspect that there will be a few holes visible as well, especially in the departments of leisure wear and outdoor clothes. As it is now I try to change when I get home from work, but as often as not I don’t bother. When I start wearing uniform at work I really have to. Cotton housedresses are really nice wear at home, I have already noticed that, but I would need one of two additional ones. Paired with thicker stockings and a warm cardigan that ought to work for winter as well.

I have tried to organize my sewing projects-list as well. I divided it into four lists; 40’s clothes, vintage clothes from other eras, 18th century clothes and one for other historical eras. I then assigned a letter to ever project. A for projects that needs to be finished ASAP. B for projects I have started and C for projects that I have planned. For example, my 40’s wardrobe has an A on the raincoat and black wool dress. They are clothes for the Autumn/Winter wardrobe and they are very near completion. All the other clothes for Autumn/Winter this year has a B and Spring/Summer clothes got C. Even clothes that I have started actually, as they are for the next season. I did this with all four lists and then I made a fifth one contains all the A’s. Then I divided that list into A, B, C. A there is my Victorian circus costume for Fraulein Frauke that needs to be finished by the 24th. B is my raincoat and then all the rest got C. When the Victorian costume is done, the raincoat will get A and something else B. I’m not sure that this will work for me as I have just started it, but it really feels that I have got a much better overview and it’s easy to see what I need to focus on.

And yes, I did use an app for it, but I am sure it works just as well with the pen and paper version.

I have bought a few clothes these autumn, staple items that I know I will have use for later. A green cardigan and sweater combo in lamb’s wool. And a few clothes from a company called Emmy Design that Elsa brought to my attention. I can really recommend them! It’s not reproduction clothes, but the style is definitely 40’s and 50’s for most of the design and the quality seems to be high. I bought a swing skirt in both brown and black and they are excellent everyday skirts. Perfect for a late 40’s or 50’s look.

I also bought this knitted dress, which was a bit nervous, knits tend to cling just where you don’t want it.

But the fit is great and it’s so comfortable, despite being 70% wool it isn’t the least bit itchy, even if you do need a slip underneath. I bought it in ruby red and I’m very tempted in the black version too. And I think I need the knitted cardigan to match!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Accessories for work

Bought at Lisa Loot

Thank you for all the pep and suggestions in yesterday's post. I feel slightly better about it now. There is another nice thing about the uniform- it actually fit me. Shirts are hard on me as I have a narrow back and shoulders, but not a very narrow front... So it was a nice surpise to find that it fitted quite well. several of you suggested jewelry, which I honestly hadn't thought about. I'm good at putting my clothes out the day before, but not not jewelry. Unfortunately I don't think I can wear pins and brooches and bangles drives me crazy, but nice earrings are an excellent option.
Bought at Majean Vintage

Despite having a workmate insisting that I look like a horse when I wear them, I really like my hairnets from Arthelia's Attic. The black one would go well with the uniform, but a grey or a green one would do as well.

I also really like the quality of the hair flowers from Belle Blossoms. I have found that I rarely reach for the very large ones, and wearing one behind my ear just tickles, but smaller ones on a comb are quite useful. And they do have a lot of nice ones
The combs are really excellent, usually such items just slip out of my hair, but these are called Grip-Truth and the stay were you put them. It is also possible to buy them plain and glue whatever decorations you want on them.

Aris Allen All Black 1940s Suede Sole Mary Jane Wingtip
Dance Store has many nice shoes I want- I have mentioned them before. And I think any of these could be worn at work to perk up my day.

Aris Allen 1930s Black & Silver Faux Ostrich Heeled Oxford

Aris Allen 1940s Black Faux Suede 3 Buckle Heeled

I also have a huge collection of stockings. A couple of years ago I shopped at Calezza any time I felt for candy. Undoubtely good for my figure, but now I have two drawers fills with stockings and one of those are solely unopened! Partly because my taste have changed a bit. I used to go for patterend stocking, now I usually wear plain ones with back seams. With a plain black skirt I think I could use up my patterned ones. Most of my stockings are out of stock now, but here are a few examples from my stocking-wardrobe.

Hair grips from the 40's or 50's. Bought at Vintage Curves

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Be smart in uniform?

I’m currently in a complete clothes-funk so I need cheering up. Come January it will be mandatory at my workplace to wear uniforms. That would be great if that meant well-tailored elegance. Something like this perhaps.
Air stewardess
But that is not to be. For me it will mean a shirt, black straight skirt and a little striped scarf. I worry about getting cold at my air-conditioned workplace. There is a heavy sweater and wind-proofed jacket to the uniform, which is designed for people working outside, but will be far too heavy to wear inside. I hope that it will be possible for me to wear a black cardigan for warmth- especially as I’m looked into room all day and never, ever meet any passengers (I work for a train company).
 Of course, that could be smart, but I suspect it is the hat that makes it...

Girl pilots, 1943

Girl pilots, 1943
 The best I can say about this uniform is that it’s neutral and it will make my ordinary wardrobe last longer. The boring thing for me is that I’m not a social butterfly- I usually work and then go home, so work is basically the place I dress up for. I like dressing nicely, it makes me feel good about myself and I think its fun.
I think she looks like Pimpinett!
Navy Nurse With Hospital Ship - John Philip Falter
 So I have kind of lost my inspiration when it comes to sewing clothes and I need to find my mojo again. I can’t do much to spruce up my future uniform, but there are no rules on what kind of stockings to wear and none of the design of shoes, except that they are to be black. I have a lot of stockings, so I can take this as an opportunity to wear the more fancy ones I never get around to use. And IO can buy me a pair of really smart black high heels. And I guess I can spend a bit more time in the morning son my hair and makeup when I always know what I will wear at work.
Off-duty uniform, WWII
 I could also notch up my social interactions. The last two years I have been ill so much that I haven’t had much energy for fun, but hopefully that is now under control and with more energy, I could have more fun.
WWII uniforms
 Then there is the matter of coats and jackets. I don’t have to be in uniform when I commute to work and even if I wear the shirt and skirt I can wear my ordinary outerwear. So perhaps a bit more focus on that will make me feel better. I’m almost finished with a raincoat with checkered wool lining and then Mrs. Depew posted a few 30’s coat patterns recently that I want, every one of them.

1930's side-buttoned coat
I have heavy black wool at home. And white faux mink. And a black coat with fur collar on my wardrobe list. Perhaps with a little matching fur hat?
1930's bouffant sleeve coat
I guess this jacket would look better with the matching dress.
1935 dress and coat

1933 autumn coat

Monday, 15 October 2012

Beauty patches anno 1948

I’m currently doing research for a post on Madame Isis' Toilette on the history on beauty patches for and I came across this little gem that I thought would interest you here. Beauty patches as fashion assessor in 1948.

Found in LIFE, 2 February 1948
The romantic looks get a boost from still another old custom

Tiny adhesive pieces of black silk are pasted on girls’ skin to direct maximum male attention to their best features. Backs, eyes or lips.
In their concerted drive toward studied femininity, U.S. high fashion leaders have revived full, frilly petticoats, long, swirling skirts and tiny waist-pinchers. Reaching once more into the past, they have come up with still another proved artifice in the crusade for ultrafeminity: the beauty patch. The U.S. has seen spots on the face twice before: in the late 18th Century and briefly in the 1920s. In England, besides being an adjunct to beauty, they were worn by politically conscious ladies to signify whether they were Tory or Wig. In Imperial Rome, where the patches had their beginning, they were used to satisfy artificially a superstitious interest in moles and blemishes. The new patches, neither superstitious nor political, are pure vanity- designed to accent a fair complexion and highlight a woman’s most beautiful feature, whether it’s her lips, eyes or back (above).

[Picture of woman in day dress and hat with a heart-shaped patch near here mouth. The text says: WORN WITH HAT at recent Lilly Daché fashion preview, beauty patch was an essential part of costume. Patch will ordinarily worn with evening dress.]

BOX OF PATCHES sells for $2. Each assortment of 100 silk spots has eight shapes, including hearts, circles, diamonds, stars, half-moon and squares.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Make your own hats

A lot of people find the idea of hat making completely daunting, but in reality it isn't so hard. True, some models demand a hat block, but it is also possible to construct hats with the help of wire, sewing them from a pattern or crochet. At the  University of Wisconsin Digital Collections website I found several books on millinery, ready to be read and learned from. My absolute favourite is this little gem; How to make and trim your own hats by Vee Walker Powell, published in 1944. It's not overly in depth, but it gives a clear overview with lots of helpful suggestions and diagrams. And the illustrations are just darling!

The content:

 And I love that on the subjects of what hat that fits you, the book tells us; "No rules, just common sense"!

If you want more, then complement Your Millinery by Winifred Reiser, 1949, a much denser volume with a lot of instructions and explanations!

As I know many of you are interested in other epoques as well, the website also contain these books on millinery:

The Art of Millinery: A Complete Series of Practical Lessons For the Artiste and the Amateur by Anna Ben Yûsuf, 1909

Millinery as A Trade For Women by Lorinda Perry, 1916

Make Your Own Hats by Mrs. Gene Allen Martin, 1921

Millinery by Charlotte Rankin Aiken, 1922

Straw Hats, Their History and Manufacture by Harry Inwards, 1922

Practical Millinery by Florence Anslow, 1922

A century of hats and the hats of the century by Edward Mott Wooley, 1923

Millinery by Jane Loewen, 1925

How To Make Hats; A Method of Self-instruction Using Job Sheets by Rosalind Weiss, 1931

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A new Swedish vintage forum

As you may know I'm Swedish, so of course I was delighted when Betty of Rags of Time opened a forum for vintage lovers in Sweden:

Vintage Swedish Models

It is a newborn forum, just a few days old, but I am sure it has great potentials and have a void to fill. So if you are Swedish, or understand Swedish, then I urge you to go an join!

Monday, 24 September 2012

A tea party (for mad hatters?)

Pretty as a picture? Well, at least I didn’t pull a silly face. The event was a truly magnificent tea party at a store called Alla tiders handelsbod (A convenience store for all times). If you visit Stockholm, then I urge you to visit this very charming shop located in Gamla stan (Old town). It is, as the name suggest, a store for all sorts of useful things, all in an atmosphere of the early 20th century.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A review of WWII Era Flight Cap from Mrs Depew

As I told you recently I bought a few pdf-patterns from Mrs Depew Vintage & Notions and the first I tried was the WWII Era Flight Cap. The very short review is that I have only good things to say about the pattern.

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