Sunday, 30 January 2011
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
I haven't put the button up because I'm not very good at that sort of techy thing, but I thought I'd mention some other blogs I really love. The fab thing about the internet is that blogs don't have to be lowest common denominator, they don't have to appeal to as wide a range of people as possible in order to make money, they can be specialised. There's a fantastic mix of professional and amateur blogs to be found, whatever your interests. Here are some of my favourites, although I'm not listing the ones with cats in as that would take all year…
Eclectic Ephemera Brilliant news stories with a vintage angle. Fashion and home blogs are great, but Bruce Partington-Plans' blog also gives a view of the wider world of vintage.
Diary of a Vintage Girl We all read it. There are many fab blogs that make me feel cosy, part of a friendly and warm vintage world, but Fleur's blog is not like that, hers is friendly but also very glamorous. If the others are fine vintage reds, Diary of a Vintage Girl is vintage champagne!
Art of Darkness Cobwebs' brilliant blog on spooky things to buy, make and see online. Halloween is my favourite holiday, and Cobwebs delivers it all year round.
Monday, 24 January 2011
Here's my latest knitting pattern, a vintage-inspired bedroom set for the current issue of Simply Knitting magazine. (My editor's given me permission to use the photo.) It's for the Quick & Easy Knits section, which is always a challenge to design for as the patterns for all four items have to fit onto one A4 page, so the trick is to make things elaborate enough to look nice, without writing a 50-line pattern. A reader had suggested a bedroom set, and as the person in the office who's fondest of vintage things, I volunteered to do it. I do all my designing in my spare time, and this is what was occupying my weekends before Christmas.
The stitch pattern on the nightdress case is a vintage classic – I've seen it used on bedjackets, cardigans and all sorts of ladies garments. Traditionally none of these items would have been knitted or used knitted elements; all the designs for nightdress cases and sachets that I've seen have been embroidered or worked in cutwork, and edges for mats would've been crocheted or tatted. I have seen a knitting pattern for hanger covers in the past, but that was from the 1970s. While none of these items would've been found in a mid-20th century bedroom, I have tried to make them look as though they could have been. I started with the nightdress case pattern and adapted the stitch pattern to become a motif for the sachet and a zigzag design for the mat edging. There's not a lot you can do with covered hangers, but I did a ridged pattern as it would help skirt loops cling to the hanger better.
Sunday, 23 January 2011
ds of the public as the Victorian/Edwardian beauty, forever in corsets. She may laugh about it, but some of that style clearly appealed to her, as she’s a big fan of bloomers, describing them as ‘the perfect alternative to tracksuit bottoms’, and happily wears hers when not working. She’s not a neat, prim dresser, however, being frequently rumpled and tousled. She likes interesting details, especially watches and novel bags. In the past week she’s been soundly slated for wearing red and green shoes to the Golden Globes. Port and Starboard, most excellently steamy, say I.
Thursday, 20 January 2011
No, nothing to do with flatpacks. I’ve worn bits of vintage for years, but really started making the transition to a more vintage-styled wardrobe last year, and I’ve been mulling over my progress of late. Most of my older pieces were special-occasion items like 1950s dresses, and the bias-cut 30s number I wore to get married. There’s no dress code at work, but I thought full-skirted navy net with sequins might raise a few eyebrows, so some outfit renewal had to be done.
Luckily I’ve never been an especially showy dresser, even in my gothiest of goth days, so I had quite a lot of very classic garments in plain black. Even when it wasn’t vintage-shaped, much of it would fade into the background behind more distinctive pieces. What I had could be added to, rather than cast aside. (Radical changes always strike me as quite odd, as well as being rather pricy.)
I’m too chubby to have a really good choice of authentic vintage garments nowadays, so in building my wardrobe buying ‘can pass’ items from charity shops and making more eyecatching items myself have been my easiest choices. Charity shop skirts seem a particularly rich source of wardrobe builders, whether you’re looking for a 1940s A-line or a pleated jobbie to go with a 1950s-style top. For some reason I find it easier to find good-quality skirts than anything else; I got a fab calf-length dark pink/grey tartan one recently.
Good quality tops are much harder to find, and good-quality vintage looking tops don’t come up at all round my way. I have been wondering if it’s because, in many outfits, tops have the most detail, and so they are more obviously in or out of fashion, so people renew their tops more frequently. Because of this, I’ve picked up my needles and knitted myself a jumper. Roaring success. Stylish, and comfy enough that it gets me out of my long-sleeved jersey tops AND it doesn’t go unworn for ages because I’ve washed it and can’t be bothered to iron it. Many more will follow, especially once I’ve mastered the dark art of resizing sleeveheads.
For a chubby woman shopping for accessories is great. I’ve never found a handbag, perfume or brooch that didn’t fit! Costume jewellery is great for a quick shopping fix , but I’ve found shoes and handbags are a bit costly and that side of things is developing more slowly. I’ve stuck to plain black for shoes so they’ll work with as many garments as possible.
So, what’s next? I don’t feel a pressing need for more skirts – they will turn up in charity shops. I have more jumpers planned as things are still lacking in the top department. I’m mulling over a handbag I saw in Vintage to Vogue in Bath. Summer dresses are my bugbear, as the high street ones are too short and the Tara Starlet ones are gorgeous but too small, but Heyday and Puttin’ on the Ritz both do really nice ones (the Fleur Wrap and the Tea at the Pavilion respectively).
How did your vintage wardrobe develop? I’d love to know your hints for building one, especially identifying and filling in gaps.
Image: a jumper I'm planning on knitting from Knit With Norbury, once I've wrapped my head around resizing armholes. On the subject of jumpers, Susan Crawford has just put up a post about a smashing little knit that I fell in love with when I saw it at Clothes Show Live. I'm not really a 50s gal, but they did some cracking designs back then!
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Wouldn't mind seeing a Bogie and Bacall version of Mr & Mrs Smith.
Monday, 17 January 2011
Thursday, 13 January 2011
Which leads on to another thought: is the popularity of vintage likely to result in a 'vintage' that has nothing to do with genuine things from the 20th century? I see a lot of shops' ranges regularly for work, and many have 'vintage' items that bear little or no resemblance to anything that existed in the first half of the 20th century. Sometimes they've simply slapped big roses over everything, sometimes it's a bit of lace. It's reaching the point where someone could furnish an entire house in this 'vintage' without it containing anything, or looking like any home, from between 1920-1960. I'm quite rigid; to me if a thing is the real, historical artefact it's vintage, if it's an actual copy of a vintage item or a vintage-style item clearly done by someone who knows what they're doing to create an accurate-looking item it's reproduction, and the rest is modern, no matter how many roses spatter the surface.
Is the popularity of 'vintage' leading to the destruction of the genuine article? Does it actually matter?
(I now have the urge to go on a book-buying rampage to save more papery treasures!)
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Helen’s peak recording career lasted for just two years, from 1928 to 1930, but her songs are easy to find on CD. At first you may find her squeaky voice strange, but she’s note-perfect and packed with personality. Helen’s career began on the stage, and as you listen to many of her songs you’ll be able to imagine her performing for a crowd, with a cheery nod and even a knowing wink for the chaps in the front row.
My CD came, as most of them do, from good old Duck, Son & Pinker in Bath, paid for by me. If you don't have access to that musical paradise, you can always buy Helen Kane's music on Amazon. (And you can probably find it online elsewhere; having the CD I've never had to go out and look for it!)
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
(Click on the 'derring do' tag if you want to see all my posts about this sort of thing.)
Monday, 10 January 2011
I’m very lucky in some ways working in Bath. There is, of course, a good choice of charity shops, although I’m also fortunate in that the town where I live has a good selection of those too. In Bath there’s a super little costume jewellery stall called ‘Not Cartiers’ which I’ve been buying from for over a decade. It was based in Bartlett Street Antiques Market and moved to the Guildhall Market a while back. Some of their stock is new, some vintage, and you do have to have a good close look at everything, but to be honest their prices are very good (cheaper than high street costume jewellery) and any mistakes won’t break the bank.
My January purchases were this softly-coloured Aynsley posy and a sparkling enamel and diamante bird, each costing £7.50. I’m not very good at dating things like this, but china brooches seem to have been at their peak popularity between 1945 and 1960. If I ever get into Green Mary dress it would be perfect on that, but I also think it will be sweet on a dainty pastel knit. I’d guess the bird is 1980s or later, but he’s a pretty creature and very nicely made: the colours don’t overrun anywhere, and the diamante are in three colours (clear and blue, plus a single red one for the eye) and very neatly set, with none missing. I have a vague memory of this sort of thing becoming massively popular after the Duchess of Windsor died in the late 1980s and her jewellery was auctioned off. At any rate, I’m a fiend for very simple black clothes, especially plain shift dresses, and the birdie will liven those up no end.
Both photos are copyright PP Gettins
Thursday, 6 January 2011
I've started work on another 1960s beret because my mum liked my one so much. This one is in slightly different colours, but still using wool yarns. Knits like this are a great way to use up odd balls of DK.
Still on the knitting front, I'm planning to make the 'Jersey with a soft bow' from A Stitch In Time to wear to Waltz on the Wye. I have finally found a style inspiration and it's Nicole Kidman as Mrs Coulter in The Golden Compass. I won't be copying any of her outfits, more the spirit of them, and for that reason I'm planning to make the jumper in a very pale gold silk-rich yarn, Fyberspates Scrumptious. Susan says I should use the laceweight rather than the 4ply for it, which means I should get the whole jumper out of two skeins – that's less than £30 for the whole thing. I'm going to start it soon because I'm a sloooooow knitter.
Bought two fab brooches yesterday. Look out for photos this weekend! At least I'm sticking to one of my resolutions…
Monday, 3 January 2011
Saturday, 1 January 2011
One thing's for sure, over the coming season you definitely won't be able to escape them on the high street, the 1970s in particular. Neither has ever been my favourite decade. Flares. Synthetic fibres. Loud prints. Brown. Glam rock. Okay, most of those are 1970s, but you get my point. You can't imagine Carole Lombard in brown corduroy or Margaret Lockwood in silver platforms.