A Step Back in Time

Tea DressThe number of times I’ve been told I was born in the wrong era… Countless. However the beautiful thing of living now is the that I can look back on all those wonderful periods (Victorian and 1920’s are my favourite) and recreate the designs whilst still having access to the modern necessities of life, say feminism, modern medicine, a fabulous array of fabrics and friends from across the world and an endless fountain of inspiration from the ether in which resides the internets. I’ve also started collecting vintage and antique lace and jewellery in the past year, things that I cannot find their equal of in todays fast consumerist society. I’m an old soul in a new world.

Tea Dress: Vintage Inspiration

Tea Dress: Vintage Inspiration

I found this vintage picture on the IG account of @shoppesimone and captured it on a screen shot knowing I needed to recreate the dress with black ribbons. The perfect linen fabric I stumbled across on another IG account, @scarletjonesmelbourne around a year later. They were practically giving away this gorgeous Italian linen which they had in storage ($20 per meter). I immediately purchased 5 meters, along with some navy and natural linen as well even though I was “technically” on a fabric purchasing hiatus.Tea Dress

The pattern is the modified bodice of Anna/Elisalex of ByHandLondon and the skirt an over exaggeration of the Emery by Christine Haynes with pockets. The first tier has additional fabric added to the width to create more fulness in the gathers and the second tier is attached to the lining.Tea Dress

The second tier is less full (I wasn’t using maths, I was guesstimating) and I’m actually quite pleased that it has less gathers than the first. It gives a different shape than I was expecting and overall makes the dress look a little less “poufy” whilst maintaining the original fit and flare design.Tea Dress

I lined the dress in a vintage cotton sheet that I picked up at a second hand store. The edge of the sheet had some beautiful blue embroidery which I will make feature of in a future petticoat/skirt that I have in mind.Tea Dress

The perfect black ribbon was purchased from Lily Pond and hand stitching it to the dress took longer than making the actual dress itself. I catch stitched by hand for a nice flat and even result. Not a speck of black thread to be seen on the inside.Tea Dress

I think there was about 12 meters of ribbon used and I stitched both the top  and bottom by hand. Commitment to ones craft as always. I actually find hand stitching quite soothing. I love how this process cannot be rushed and accuracy is increased 10 fold when you have such fine control over the stitches.

Vintage Locket

Vintage Locket

I wore my new locket from JeanJean Vintage which I’d been stalking for months. It is black enamel with “In Memory of” inscribed on the front and contains a lock of hair that has been carefully braided and encased in the locket. I’ve no clue as to who it belonged to but I love that this was how women used to remember their loved ones who had died. Very Crimson Peak in it’s style, hopefully obtained under less violent circumstances.

Tea Dress

And may we discuss the boots for a minute. Purchased from American Duchess, these beautiful boots laced with ribbon are the perfect fit for my often fickly tootsies. And how well do they compliment my dress! Comfort and historic style paired beautifully.

Tea DressThe photo’s were taken at the Winter Garden Cafe which had a beautiful exhibition of prints in their art gallery upstairs. It’s their 7th annual printmakers exhibition and runs from July 1 to July 31. If you are in the Geelong area I would recommend dropping in to view some of the amazing prints.

Gin? Tea? Cake?

Gin? Tea? Cake?

So, where do you get your inspiration for making? I have many screen shots on my phone, thousands of pinterest pins, and scraps from magazines that never seem to make it into the inspiration book…Tea Dress

CurtseyTea Dress

 

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Strawberry Thief in Brooklyn

Strawberry Thief in the Wild

Strawberry Thief in the Wild

Once a year I escape the chaos…

Strawberry Thief Sewing Corner

Strawberry Thief Sewing Corner

To sleep, stitch, eat, drink, rest.

Strawberry Thief an Me

Strawberry Thief an Me

To be taken care of by wonderful women who fill my soul to the brim.

Strawberry Thief and the Bunnies

Strawberry Thief and the Bunnies

To mingle with the unknown over breakfast and drink countless cups of tea.

Strawberry Thief Gelfling Style

Strawberry Thief Gelfling Style

And sip wine in bed after venturing out to the pictures deemed too arty for my local theatres.

Strawberry Thief and Snow Domes

Strawberry Thief and Snow Domes

And solitude. So rare and so soothing.

Strawberry Thief with Headscarf and Handmade Bag by Friend

Strawberry Thief with Headscarf and Handmade Bag by Friend

Then I return to the fold. Missed and missing all.

Strawberry Thief with Strawberry Swirl

Strawberry Thief with Strawberry Swirl

Until next time. Until next summer.

Strawberry Thief Mirror Image

Strawberry Thief Mirror Image

Curtsy.

Strawberry Thief V Back

Strawberry Thief V Back

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Nobody puts Strawberry Thief in the Corner

Nobody puts Strawberry Thief in the Corner

Photos by myself and Bruce. Dress made from Strawberry Thief Liberty Tana Lawn, a 40th Birthday present. Pattern, Flora skirt ByHandLondon attached to modified Anna/Elisalex bodice. Location at Brooklyn Arts Hotel, my home away from home. Vintage jewellery from JeanJean Vintage. Shoes by Camper.

Strawberry Thief

Strawberry Thief

Frocktober: Raising Money, Awareness and Fabulous Frocks

This post is sponsored by the wonderful women from The Drapery, who in supporting Froctober and the  Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, gifted me the gorgeous Nani Iro fabric for my dress.  The Drapery is a fabric store located in Adelaide, South Australia, that stocks carefully selected natural fibre fabrics (including Liberty, Nani Iro and amazing linens) and indie patterns. All opinions expressed remain my own.

Froctober at the Drapery

Froctober at the Drapery

Hello and welcome to the wonderful month of October! You can expect serious frockage, unseasonably hot weather and a plethora of days raising awareness for some of the many causes that are often funded by, and rely on, the good will of our community.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress

One of the main events held this month is Froctober, where ladies (and gents) frock up to raise much needed funds for research into ovarian cancer. It is reported that one woman dies every 10 hours from ovarian cancer and there is still no early detection test. Terrible. Women are normally diagnosed at the later stages of this disease, when the cancer has spread to other organs in the body. This means a significant decrease in the chances of overcoming this cancer. Early detection is key to treating and surviving this. Frocks around Australia are taking this seriously, and are being used to raise money for this much needed research.

Froctober Menu

Froctober Menu

At this point in time, the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) does not receive government funding, and relies on donations and fundraising from the community to develop an early detection test. I am proud to report that along with three of my colleagues at work, we raised $125 which will go directly to the OCRF. I also managed to discuss the fundraising and its importance with senior management by stating: “I’m raising money for ovarian cancer research, because, ovaries: where would we be without them?”. He looked at me for a second with head to the side, dropped some money in the jar and then quietly backed away…

If you would like to donate directly, you can do so here. I would post you cookies in exchange for donations, however they may end up as crumbs in the post.

The Froctober Spread: $125 Raised.

The Froctober Spread: $125 Raised, Sugar Coma Achieved

So. Awareness raised. Let us move onto the frock.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress

Behold, my new Emery Dress with self-drafted skirt, made in the most beautiful Nani Iro double gauze, and lined in sultry silk. It is truly like wearing a whisper that only I can hear. Swish and swoosh, like the leaves gently rustling in the spring breeze.

Froctober Emery Dress - Inside Out

Froctober Emery Dress – Inside Out – Soft Focus

I started by using the Emery bodice, adding a centre back seam to capture the selvage of the the Nani Iro, and then finishing off with a self-drafted pleated, wrap skirt. The dress is lined in silk, using the Emery skirt pattern with some of the width taken out to reduce bulk at the waist.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress

I created the skirt pattern by taking apart one of my oldest and favourite RTW dresses and using it as a template to create the pleats. I vividly remember the day I purchased it. Firstly because it was incredibly expensive for me at the time, and secondly because when I mentioned to Bruce I might be indulging in a pricy dress, it was given the ok if I bought home a chicken. Chicken was delivered, dress was purchased: a worthy exchange. It has been worn lovingly for over 7 years and was still in admirable shape, save for the highlighter pen marks. I’ve been wanting to recreate this for years, but didn’t have the heart to unstitch that dress and be left without it.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress

Luckily I found another version (in purple no less!) on eBay so was able to take the original apart. There were so many things to love about my old dress, including the details of the metal adornments (lovingly restitched onto the newly made dress), the hem (again reused on my Emery dress) and the number of well placed stitches that held it together over time. The thing with properly made garments is they take time to deconstruct as well as construct. Not the typical pull one thread and the entire piece falls apart. It took hours to undo, it was so well made.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress

The pleats sit in a most pleasing fashion on the derriere. Top stitched down by a 9cm long rectangle, they hold fast across the bottom before gently flaring out. This also makes for excellent twirlability.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress – Twirling in the Veggie Patch

I also put in a side zip. Revelation! It is so lovely to zip the side without having to do the wiggle dance involved with centre back seam closures.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress – So Many Bubbles Blown, Not a Single One in Frame!

I also had the opportunity to try out my fancy new shoes. I think they will be perfect for sitting down and indulging in high tea. They are definitely not made for walking. I felt like a baby giraffe on stilts.

Froctober Emery Dress + Fancy Shoes

Froctober Emery Dress + Fancy Shoes

So a beautiful dress for a well deserving cause. Sadly this particular print is now out of stock, however there are a number of other equally beautiful Nani Iro fabrics in-store and I’m informed by a well placed source that a new shipment is on the way. The Drapery is also offering 10% off combined fabric and pattern purchases until the end of October with $2 from each combined purchase being donated to ORCF. Support research, save money and buy beautiful fabric. Sounds like an excellent deal to me!

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress

For other Froctober blog posts, see The Drapery here, here and here, and also the ever stylish and beautiful Blogless Anna, here.

Curtsey and may we find early detection for ovary health soon. Because literally, we wouldn’t be here without them ; ).

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Photos by Bruce. Nani Iro fabric gifted from The Drapery. Hair flowers by Garden of Whimsy. Shoes from Christian Louboutin. Tights from Wolford. Marrimeko parasol from Kiitos. Lack of bubbles presented by B1 and B2.

Dress Interupted

This is a sponsored post – my first!

Gallery Serpentine is a unique corsetry & alternative fashion emporium in Sydney, Australia. They carry a huge range of alternative clothing and accessories and curate an eclectic mix of gothic and steampunk wear. The following product was gifted to me in exchange for review after they happened upon my blog earlier this year. All opinions expressed are my own.

Corset Refresher

Corset Refresher

Hello and Greetings!

How is it that the first half of this year dragged its sorry feet for sooooo long and then July hit and the year is almost over! I missed August completely, although my personal records indicate I did participate in a number of activities. I’m still trying to adjust to it being the end of September…

Which leads me to my next elaborate project. A dress for my upcoming high tea to celebrate a little milestone birthday. Fifteen of the most lovely ladies sipping Pimms, eating cucumber sandwiches and devouring eclairs will gather and celebrate what is now no longer considered middle age.

Pana Wine Approves of the Outcome

Panda Wine Approves of the Outcome

I’ve been pondering this dress for a good six months, and finally inspiration was forthcoming. I’m decommissioning a 1950s cream lace dress that, even after alterations, didn’t quite have the right fit. I will combine it with a contrasting lace bodice using the Elisalex bodice from By Hand London. The challenge was finding a vintage fabric that would contrast as a bodice and be of an age that complimented the original skirt.

Lovely Lace

Lovely Lace

I found the perfect fabric at the bottom of a remnants bin in a store at the end of an alley way. After getting lost several times (true story). All for the (unmarked, unfolded, scrunched up, powerfully scented) price of $20. Lovely.

When I got home, I laid out the new addition to my stash, and found it to be rather more pungent than originally thought. I washed it three times in wool mix and hung it outside so it could enjoy the sunshine and a brisk breeze. Unfortunately the mustiness permeating the fabric was entrenched and stubbornly resisted fading.

Corset Refresher with Vintage Singer

Corset Refresher with Vintage Singer

So I turned to the Corset Refresher which had been sent to me by Gallery Serpentine. It’s true purpose is to refresh corsetry that cannot be washed due to boning and construction. A light spray is applied after every 3-4 wears to give it a little refresh. It can also be used on bed linen to liven things up between washes. It was designed by Cult of Scent exclusively for Gallery Serpentine and is based on an eau de cologne recipe. Plus it has antibacterial properties which really effects the the scent of your clothes, unlike spraying with perfume. I like to employ my lateral thinking from time to time and as my corset collection stands at a total of one and I don’t wear it regularly, I had to wait a while until an opportunity presented itself.

Corset Refresher

Corset Refresher

It specifically warns against using on lighter coloured fabrics, but I’d found myself at the point of employing the scent to see what the results were, participate in some research on the interwebs for treating vintage fabrics (which I didn’t have the time or inclination to do) or dispose of it. I took the radical path.

I used the parisian method of application. That is: spray the mist into the air at ankle, knee and waist height and pass the fabric though the mist to avoid concentrated areas of liquid forming on the fabric. If it was perfume I was applying to myself, I would use the same principal: spray at several heights in front of the body, and with a certain graceful and dignified élan walk through the mist and finish off with a little hand flapping once the passage had been completed. Dramatic, but effective as I don’t like to apply perfume directly to my skin. Does anyone else apart from Boo and me do this?

The Dress Post Treatment

The Dress Post Treatment with Outfit Accessories

Once treated, I allowed an hour for it to be draped inside and then again let it out on the line in for the brisk breeze to do its work.

Surprisingly, it lifted the pungent mustiness which had been persisting as part of the distinctive character of this fabric. I didn’t think anything would shift the odour, which I assumed would persist until the end of creation. The scent of the corset refresher is fresh and not at all floral or sweet. The bottle describes the essential oil ingredients as being organic lime, organic tea tree and cedar oil in an alcohol base. And that’s exactly what my fabric now smells like. There is still the tiniest hint of must, but it is now ready for cutting and stitching up. And possibly another treatment before the big day.

Dress Interupted

Dress Interupted

I also have several other pieces of clothing that I don’t wash due to the age of the fabric or the fact they would otherwise have to be dry-cleaned. This includes my frocktails dress. It will only be worn occasionally and I like to think that I wear my clothes lightly, leading to a longer life span. I’m not a big fan of dry cleaning, and often with my everyday wear I find that a good airing sees them through several wears. I try to be kind to my clothes and the environment and not overwash, especially when I don’t have to. All the smalls, delicates and B1 and B2’s do get washed regularly though. There is no avoiding that!

Corset Refresher

Corset Refresher

So I managed to rescue what I though was doomed  fabric using the corset refresher. And I figure that if it worked so well on a piece of fabric I was about to give up on, it will work wonderfully on my clothes that need a little scented lift and not the full cleaning experience. And as I said before, it’s not just for corsetry. It is destined to be used on a few other items I have lazing around in my wardrobe. I think it will brighten (or darken, depending on your goth status) the scent on a variety of different fabrics. And it’s perfect when you don’t need to do a full clean, or can get away with spot cleaning. So if you have some special clothing that you avoid washing for fear of damage, I would recommend this. A little scent goes a long way. I will certainly be using it again, but next time will be sizing up for the refill from Gallery Serpentine.

To have a further read or to explore the Gallery Serpentine website, you can peruse at your leisure here. There is a world of gothic goodness, parasols and corsetry ready to discover.

Curtsy

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Photo’s by Pips, Corset Refresher supplied by Gallery Serpentine, original lace dress purchased from Dear Golden, vintage Singer purchased from A Piece of Cloth.

Post Script: Gallery Serpentine actually found my post here when I went on my adventure to the Antipodean Steam Punk Exhibition last year. Some of their corsetry and garments had been curated in the exhibition along with a number of other amazingly talented gothic and steampunk artisans. I was a little honoured they read my post as I have made several parasol purchases from them, stalked them online for several years and have always intended to visit their store. I just need to get to Sydney. And I’m sure I could get away with wearing this to work…

 

Liberty Granville Shirt and Anemone Skirt

Vintage Liberty Collection

Vintage Liberty Collection – *Swoons*

Another day, and more gorgeous fabric! It seems like I’ve come to the end of my vintage Liberty which is sad in some ways but also wonderful to see new life given to fabric that has been stored and loved for many years. I’ve saved every scrap, and have taken to weave wrapping for gifts and hoarding hexagons for a quilt. I can’t recall ever being so attached to fabric before.

Today I received a beautiful thank you card, thanking me for my thank you letter from my benefactor. This of course requires another thank you note to thank Ms J for thanking me for my thank you. I discovered that I was made custodian of three generations of fabric, *swoon*. This is sewing love. And this is why I love sewing and the sewing and fabric community.

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

As soon as this fabric was presented to me (in a most queenly fashion followed by squeals of delight) I knew it was destined for a shirt. Fabric often speaks to me (just don’t tell my doctor) and I was overcome by the print and the softness of the Liberty. It could not have found a happier home than mine.

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Another Granville shirt from Sewaholic. The only adjustments I need to make to Sewaholic patterns are to add length in the body and sleeves. Then the fit is perfect. Dream patterns.

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

I’ve still got a little way to go until I perfect my plackets, but I’m happy with the result this time.

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anemone – Praying for Fabric

And the skirt! Completely forgot that I’d made it months ago. How does one do that? Trying to embrace new shapes and expand my handmade wardrobe I ventured out to the Anemone pattern from Deer and Doe using some left over viscose purchased from The Fabric Store.

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Several versions of these have popped up in my instagram feed and I had planned to experiment with the more fitted, higher waist skirt and shift away from the usual fit and flare. I think after seeing it in photos I’d wear it to work. And perhaps give it another press. It did spend the last 6 months balled up in my tops draw… Eek.

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

It’s a little corporate for my usual style but with the the addition ribbons and flowers I think I’ve captured my quintessential Pipsie style. That high waist does keep everything in place whilst allowing continued breathing and eating. The pattern was made  straight from the envelope without adjustment. Sadly it was that long ago that I can not recall the size…

Vintage Liberty Grainville

Vintage Liberty Grainville

And how could anything look bad with that shirt!

Vintage Liberty Grainville

Vintage Liberty Grainville – Baby Got Back

See that waist to hip ration? That’s  why Sewaholic patterns are made for my bosom, waist and derrière measurements.

Vintage Liberty Grainville

Vintage Liberty Granville

Deer and Doe Anemone Skirt

Deer and Doe Anemone Skirt

The skirt was fully lined, and I love the peplum on the sides. A rather pretty point of interest that is quirky and doesn’t add volume to the hips.

Vintage Liberty Grainville

Vintage Liberty Grainville

So next time you see any vintage Liberty here, it should be in the form of hexagons. Unless of course anyone has a stash they would like to gift to me. I would be happy to oblige.

Happy weekend lovelies!

Curtsey

Pips xxx

Photos by Bruce. Fabric gifted from the estate of Ms J. Hair flowers from Gardens of Whimsey. Shoes from Camper. Tights from Tightology.

Elisalex – the Edited Edition

As part of our “family rules” that are 15/16ths finished and will be blogged about once the last rule has been added (“try to be you best”….. I think, or “don’t leave your underwear on the floor of a morning….), one of my favourites, is try new things. I use it often with B1 and B2 with varying levels of success and to show that I am the queen of leading by example, when it suits, I…. lead by example. This rule does not apply to vegemite for me, as they insisted it should, because I’ve tried it once and hated it. Vegemite might look like Nutella, but taste like, it does not. This rule does however include trying new patterns for frock making, which is an area in which I am excelling this week.

I purchased the Elisalex pattern from By Hand London maybe 6 months ago, and left it in the to do pile because I was head over heals with the Anna dress (7 at last count). I also had to make the usual adjustment of lengthening the bodice which was princess line and it seemed to be just a little too much effort.

However. I am determined to start making my way though my stash, as evidenced by my participation in Summer (winter down here) Stash Bust 2014 run by fellow blogger, the quirky peach. My commitment is to sew at least 3 stash pieces before being able to add 1. I think that is reasonable for me.

Time Out. Bear with. I have, for the first time in my life, a fabric stash. And I’m a little excited about it. It includes vintage fabrics, vintage sheets to be used as fabric and fabric I’ve picked up from warehouses. Not as much Liberty as one would expect or like, however I have found THE one and am saving for a piece for a Belcarra Blouse and they also sell Nano Iro which I’m keen to introduce myself to. I’ve re purposed some of my old clothes that no longer fit but are made out of beautiful fabric, mostly  morphing them into the Belcarra blouse from Sewaholic . It  is definitely getting a work out, and I’m up 4 at the last count, possibly 5.

Back to the main story. So, this fabric was purchased with the Elisalex in mind and being determined to try new things and not start another project before Elisalex had been completed, I set to pattern  tracing, altering and toiling/muslining. I very rarely do this, but given the princess seams I thought it best to on this occasion. It worked perfectly with no further alteration required, other than the usual 2.5cm lengthening of the bodice at the waist. Perfect.

hmmmm

hmmmm. What The?

So, I attached the skirt, tilted head to the side a little when it was on the coat hanger thinking that is a rather poofy tulip shape, thought it might look better on, and was proven otherwise. The bodice fits perfectly, the skirt exaggerates the waist and hip a little too much for my liking. Plus, I could only take mini steps, and mini steps do not work for girls who are 6″ tall.

thinking, thinking

thinking, thinking

After some advice was sought on instagram, I removed a total of 40cm from the length of the skirt, turned up a 1cm hem twice, and then took to hand stitching on some gorgeous embroidered silk organza on the hem line to add a little voom that had previously been removed. I also took out some of the tulip on the skirt side seams to bring it in a little.

Elisa 2

This is eventuated!

Elisa4

A little bit bubble skirt, a fabulous fitting bodice, and a finished dress that I think I can get away with wearing to work. Who am I kidding, I wear what I like to work. It’s one of the main reasons I work there. I also added the embroidered silk organza trim from France just to add a little more fancy. The colours just matched so well. And I love the back neck line! I hadn’t seen it (for obvious reasons) until Bruce took the photo’s this afternoon when the sun said hello for a minute.Elisalex 8

The inside, as always, is finished with me spending more time hand stitching than it would take 1 person in China to make 10 complete versions. I love the lining. I’m not always one for novelty fabrics, much  preferring the classics, however this made me smile and only I know it’s there.

I will definitely use the bodice again, and on the advise of sew busy lizzy, will next pair it with the Charlotte skirt, and if all things go well, will make a wiggle dress with my 1950’s silk cotton that is waiting for something special.

So watch this space for the next version, which I might proudly add is also going to be stash busting.

Curtsey

Pips xxx

PS. Bear with. We had this conversation at work regarding “bear with” versus “bare with” because to me both of them look terribly wrong. The consensus was (with the assistance of google) that “bear with” was correct, although you might feel that a grizzly was going to turn up at any moment expecting a shared picnic. “Bare with” would be an invitation for someone to get naked with you, and considering it was pretty much an all staff email, I was happy to go the grizzly, not the naked. Although just for the record, bear still looks wrong to me.