Monday, 25 June 2018

Shopping is no substitute for doing

'Shopping is no substitute for doing' is something I really need to bear in mind, as I've found myself slipping, as a novice sew-er, into a bad habit I had as a knitter: buying more things to make stuff without actually making stuff. That's why I have five plastic crates of knitting wool; I think Mr Robot will divorce me if I acquire the same amount of fabric. That said, I had to have this Liberty fabric. The pattern is called 'Rocket Dance' and I got it from Shaukat Fabrics. A few online stores have this pattern, but not many seem to have the darkest background.

YES IT'S A NAVY BACKGROUND SOMEONE STAGE AN INTERVENTION!

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Rolling Stones in Cardiff

The Rolling Stones on Stage at Cardiff
Last Friday* Mr Robot and I went to see the Rolling Stones in Cardiff. I've seen a few classic bands in recent years – ones younger than the Stones – and in most cases the years have taken their toll, especially on the singers' voices. On top of that, I only really know the classic songs from the 1960s and 1970s, plus the occasional hit, so expected the gig to be mostly me thinking, "That sounds good, I wish I knew it."

It wasn't like that at all.

Friday, 8 June 2018

A Quant of Solace

So, the V&A's announced its next exhibition, and it's going to be devoted to the work of a designer who shaped British fashion in the 1960s, Mary Quant. She wasn't the first to make a mini skirt, but by crikey she made them popular. She was an early worker with PVC, too - her 'Wet' collection of 1963 used it.

On the subject of 'Wet', garment from that are among the items the museum is hoping people can lend it. They're looking for stuff like early Quant with Bazaar labels, 'Wet' items, and mid-60s styles with Peter Pan collars (not sure I'll forgive MQ for making that particular piece of tweeness acceptable for adults, to be honest – did Audrey Hepburn wear one? Did Diana Rigg? That should tell you all you need to know.) Anyway, those, home-made - sewn or knitted - garments from Quant patterns, and more are all on their We Want Quant list. If you can help them, I'm sure they'd be grateful.

The exhibition is opening in April 2019. I didn't manage to make it to the Ocean Liners one (idiot Mim!) but I am definitely going to get my arse into gear and go to see the Quant one.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

New hair and bimblings

 I did it! I finally got my hair cut. I went for the Emma Peel as it's longer than the Scully, so if it didn't work out it could be cut into a Scully next time, whereas the reverse wouldn't be possible. Turns out, all it takes cut-wise is for everything to be the same length, and after that it's all in the blow drying. The hairdresser didn't get as much volume into the roots as I'd have wanted, but I did carefully watch how she did the flicks. And then this week I've been out and bought all sorts of brushes, sticky stuffs AND a hairdryer so hopefully I can recreate it myself. I've yet to try that, so today it's exactly like it was before the cut, only shorter, ie messy.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Sewing frustrations

Do you know the old saying about having to do something for 10,000 hours to be any good at it? I'm starting to fear it might take that long for my sewing to get good. And that I'm going to be making this one pattern FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Living Literature: Frankenstein

Last Friday Mr Robot and I went to an event being run as part of the Bath Festival. The Bath International Music Festival began in 1948, and the city has various other ones throughout the year - Literature, Children's Literature, Film, Jane Austen - but the music one has been rolled in with the literature one to create one mammoth multi-arts festival. The event we attended was a Living Literature one on Frankenstein. Mary Shelley polished the draft for Frankenstein in the city, and the book's 200th anniversary of publication is this year, so it was a good fit.

The venue was the city's original theatre. It became a Roman Catholic church, and has been a Masonic Hall since the mid-1800s (presumably around the time the Catholics got a proper swanky church with an impressive spire built nearby). I'd always wanted to see inside. And what I was hoping for from an 'immersive' literature event was something akin to Secret Cinema.

Er, what do I say? The event and I were not a good fit.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Off the top of my head

It’s work team photo shoot day next week, and I’m hoping to get my hair cut on Saturday. I haven’t booked anything; I’ll just see if any of the salons in town can take a walk-up, which probably says something about my general experience with hairdressers. I’m not expecting a miracle, let’s put it that way. I haven’t been in over a year, but it really is looking tatty with overprocessing and needs a cut beyond my usual ‘chop the end off a ponytail’ technique. I’m toying with asking for one of two styles this time.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Argh!/yay!

Sorry about the radio silence. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you'll know I'm prone to the occasional bout of anxiety and I've just been through one of those. Argh. A friend was having a bit of a crisis and I was doing my best to support her, and worrying about her triggered my 'WORRY ABOUT EVERYTHING!' frame of mind. Luckily I had last week off and was able to potter round at home and decompress, but I stayed mainly off social media. (Ditched about a third of the Twitter accounts I was following; that was definitely the best move.)

Anyway, there were good things in the past week or so. For starters I was able to get into one of my vintage dresses. I bought this Global shirt dress from Kinky Melon ages ago; I don't usually go into the 1970s style-wise but this is clean enough in colour and pattern to appeal to me. It feels so good to be wearing some of my original vintage again! I haven't been dieting per se, but I have cut out all snacks, tried to stick to salads for lunch at work, and have switched to herb teas (no milk) in the office, and Mr Robot did say my tummy looks slightly smaller. When the person who sees you every day notices a difference, it's got to be significant. We renewed our gym membership and one of the best ways of dealing with my anxiety is to haul myself there and drown it in treadmill-generated endorphins, so I shall try to stick to going regularly from now on.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Crinoline Robot's vintage week

The Circus, Bath

Maybe it’s the sunshine, maybe it’s finding a set of uranium glass dishes in a charity shop weekend, or maybe it's taking part in the #vintagefashionchallenge on Instagram, but I am really feeling my love of old tat right now.

 It was also Mr Robot's birthday this week, so we went for a really delicious dinner at a restaurant called Henry's, behind the Assembly Rooms (where the Fashion Museum is, if you know Bath). We both work nearer the train station and it felt like it had been ages since we went into that part of the city. It was lovely seeing the Circus in late afternoon. (If you don't know Bath, the curved terrace above is one of three forming a circular street, called The Circus, and it's just down from the Royal Crescent, probably the city's most famous street. They're not big on straight roads round here, which is ironic given how the city swanks about its Roman heritage.)

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Dusty In Memphis [music]

You know how it’s possible to appreciate the quality of something while not actually being mad keen on it? That’s how I feel about this, possibly Dusty Springfield’s most acclaimed album. It’s not bad; I can tell it’s incredibly good at what it does – Dusty’s wonderful, strong-yet-vulnerable voice soars and whispers, roars and breaks through the 11* soul tracks – but that’s not what I’d hoped for. Made in 1969, it isn’t quite the sort of 60s I love.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Uranium glass dessert bowl set


Five small green art deco uranium glass dessert bowls and one large matching serving dish.
You know when you promise yourself you're not going to get any more of something – you have enough – and then you see one you've just got to have? For some people it's bags, for others it's shoes, some people might accumulate tools or CDs or pottery frogs. For us it's plates and other food-serving items. And when we saw this uranium glass dessert set in a charity shop yesterday we just had to have it. Usually one or the other of us will be sensible enough to put on the brakes, but each of us was prepared to find all sorts of reasons why we should hand over £15 and take the bowls home. So we did.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Erse!

I did some tidying to remove a couple of tags, so apologies if any old posts have turned up in your feed. Computers, eh? Rubbish.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Weekend sewing: peg bag


While I had planned to do more work on perfecting the top pattern over the weekend, on sunday I woke up and realised I'd left some laundry outside in the thunderstorm – along with the plastic ice-cream tub of pegs. Spreading the pegs out to dry, it occurred to me that for years I'd been thinking I could do with a proper peg bag, and now I have a sewing machine it should be really simple to make one.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Outfit post: here comes the sun!

And I still can't fit into my vintage, and I haven't got round to making The Top: Part II yet, so I'm wearing stuff I took on holiday, and modelling them in the oh-so-stylish setting of the fire escape at work. These wide-legged linen trousers are some of my favourites, because they're so cool and easy to wear. I don't buy into all that 'vertical stripes are slimming' nonsense; nothing's going to make me look slender, and the contrary part of me rebels at the suggestion I should spend all my life trying to be something I'm patently not anyhow. (Vintage magazines are very fond of 'slimming lines' I find, though the designs in Stitchcraft for stout figures still never go up to my size!) But I like stripes anyway.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Shiny new 60s shoes

It's no secret that I wear a lot of navy. I keep trying to tear myself away from it, but to little avail. I've got a gorgeous navy bag that Goody gave me, and for ages I've been looking for a nice pair of navy shoes. Maybe it's because I was looking in winter, but I could not find a pair I liked. (Admittedly my options were limited because I have wide feet.) Anyway, in keeping with my theory that if you don't get what you want, it's because life is about to send you something you're really going to want, a few weeks back I discovered Modshoes, and then they released their spring/summer 18 range with these beauties in. Perfect.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Go go gadget green fingers

a pile of Fothergill's seed packets, and a sausage roll on a retro plate
Planning my planting with a sausage roll...
When Mr Robot and I first got our house, we had all sorts of ideas about how we wanted it to look, and over the next 16 years or so… pretty much none of them came to anything! I even had a book where I planned out how I wanted the back garden to be planted, with lots of fiery colours accented with blue, because the garden’s south-facing and I wanted shades that would stand up to the mid-day summer sun.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Two current 1940s TV shows

Have you been watching Ordeal By Innocence? The BBC sneaked this Agatha Christie adaptation out quite quietly. I find it odd, both for the lack of fanfare and the time of year – And Then There Were None got a big Christmas push a couple of years ago. Without spoiling it for you, it's the story of a family - a couple and their five grown adopted children, one of whom is married. The mother is murdered, one of the two sons is accused and dies in prison... then, just as the father is about to marry again, someone arrives to provide the dead son with an alibi for the crime.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Sew and… no

(Apologies if you're fed up of my sewing posts; it's the only blog relevant thing I've done of of late - I'm sure you don't want to hear about the hours I'm putting in playing farming game Stardew Valley or my reread of the Dresden Files urban wizard novels.)

My Big Plan for the weekend was to get another copy of the pattern for the top I sewed recently, another fabric remnant and zip, and have a go at a full bust adjustment. I needed another copy of the pattern because for an FBA you need to cut out the pattern size to fit your shoulders, then widen it below to accomodate a large cup, and hey presto, a top with no gaping armholes or flappy fabric above the bust. But fate had other ideas...

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Jerusalem: 1940s-set espionage drama for Channel 4

Channel 4's not one I usually pay much attention to, Agents of Shield aside (and they've just taken on Gotham too, comics-to-telly fans) so I was intrigued by Double O Section's news that the channel is making a six-episode series set in the 1940s, about a British civil servant spying for the Americans. I'm guessing the series' name, Jerusalem, has more to do with the William Blake poem/popular hymn than the city, and notions of Englishness*, but with spies involved, the city could come into it, though everything I've been able to dig up on filming suggests it's being shot in England and Wales. 

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Is the vintage trend over?

As we're hoping to get a loft conversion, I've been paying more attention than usual to homewares, and it looks like the trend for shabby chic, 'twee' vintage interiors may finally be coming to an end. (Can you believe that the phrase 'shabby chic' was coined over 20 years ago?) I can't say I'm sorry to see the back of it; I nailed my colours to the mast back in 2012 when I ranted about why I hate upcycling. In case you're wondering, I don't hate recycling – taking broken stuff and salvaging the useful bits – I just can't bear people who split up perfectly good teasets to make naff candles, or cut up old books for papercraft projects, or paint and 'distress' perfectly good early 20th century wardrobes. Distress the wardrobes? It distresses me.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Little stitching projects

Did you have a good Easter? I meant to post but got sidetracked by my PlayStation. (Why yes, I am a middle-aged woman, not a 12-year-old boy, thank you for asking...) Anyway, before Easter I quickly ran up little bags with bunnies on and filled them with chocolate eggs for the members of both my teams at work, then popped them on each desk before anyone got in. On Good Friday itself I made 10 washable makeup wipes.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

New makeup for me - and for Agent Carter

Today I bought some new makeup at lunchtime. I feel slightly bad about it because I promised myself I’d use up some of the makeup I have, not buy more. But it was that or buy a doughnut, and I’m trying to watch what I eat (don’t know why, nothing I do seems to make me any less rotund), so on balance I’d probably have felt worse about the doughnut than I did about one new lippie and a new nail varnish. Then I got back to the office and discovered Besame’s Agent Carter collection has started shipping! Agent Carter was one of my favourite television programmes in recent years - female-led late 1940s-set Marvel? Bring it on - and I was gutted when it got cancelled. I guess the Besame collaboration shows people still think fondly of the series, even if the networks didn't.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

My first home-sewn garment

 I MADE A THING!

I've made a mostly-wearable garment using my sewing machine. No, this 1960s top is not perfect, but for a first project I think this top has turned out really well. I'll certainly be happy to wear it around the house, which is what I was aiming for. (Okay, I hoped it would be perfect and wearable outside the house, but I knew that would be asking a lot of a first project.)

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Shopping at the Vintage Bazaar

Last time the Vintage Bazaar was in Devizes I missed it - we go to the butcher in Devizes, and on that occasion we bought a bag of pricy giant prawns and I needed to get them home, so no shopping for me. Yesterday there was no such problem As I made sure we went to the Bazaar before the butcher.

Lots of the sellers had vintage fabrics and notions for sale. I hadn't expected to find fabric I liked, but I saw this blue rose fabric and liked it - then as soon as I put it down another person showed an interest and I came over all IT MINE! It's a very silky fabric, so probably won't get used much faster than the slippery silk I bought in India, but it's nice to have it for inspiration. It's got that late 50s/early 60s vibe I really love.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Parasol Protectorate [books]

I'd heard about Gail Carriger's 'Parasol Protectorate' quintet ages ago – it's one of the more highly-regarded steampunk series – but didn't get around to reading it till my trip to India. All that time on longhaul flights and trains meant plenty of opportunity to read, however, and I got through all five: Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless.

The novels are set in an alternate Victorian era, mostly in London, and follow Alexia Tarabotti, a young woman unfortunate enough to have been born without a soul. Her touch can turn werewolves and vampires mortal, and as she's soulless she's incredibly practical, lacking in imagination and able to tackle problems head-on. As she ends up passionately in love with a supernatural being, there are plenty of problems to be tackled.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Growing my vintage fabric stash


This has already earned me a bit of side-eye from Mr Robot, but before we went on holiday I ordered some vintage fabric from Etsy seller Gertie Gusset's Vintage Drawers. (What did he expect? He bought me a sewing machine!) It arrived before I went to India, promptly and beautifully wrapped, but I've only just had time to blog about it.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Caves, more caves, and a fort

A white man standing in the entrance to a buddhist cave at Ellora

I hope you like caves, because the reason I'm in Aurangabad right now is to see the Ellora and Ajanta caves.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Oh, Kolkata!

The Post Office, BBD Bagh, Kolkata
The Post Office, BBD Bagh, Kolkata

We've arrived in Aurangabad after a mammoth train journey from Kolkata - about 36 hours from one hotel to the other. So I thought I'd blog a little about Kolkata.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The scandal of Georgian Calcutta

A cup of tea
Grab a cuppa, this is a long post.
Who’s Eliza Lane? She's a woman who scandalised Georgian Calcutta. (I'm calling it Calcutta in her story 'cos that's what it was called when she lived there; obviously I will be visiting Kolkata!) Eliza’s my ancestress. Normally family history can be a bit dull for non-related people, but I think she is pretty interesting. Over the years I’ve dug up more information on her, and I’m really hopeful that we’ll be able to visit either her memorial or her grave when we’re in Kolkata.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

I'm getting a sewing machine!

singer sewing machine ad from the 1960s
Yes, Mr Robot told me he's going to get me a sewing machine for my birthday. Why tell me now? We'll be in Kolkata on my birthday, so we'll go and pick one out together either before we go or after we get back. I'm unbelievably excited about this, as I've wanted one for so long. My friend Naomi is really talented with her machine, and she said to make sure whatever I get has one-step buttonholes, but not to worry too much about fancy stitches as she only ever uses four or five. If you have any other good advice, please do comment. All I know is I'll be getting a Husqvarna as there's a Husqvarna shop in Bath. Beyond that, I've no idea.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Crinoline Robot's vintage week

Weirdly, though there hasn’t been a major shift in the amount of vintage in my life, I’ve been feeling the love of Old Tat much more strongly over the past couple of weeks. Not sure why. It could be pondering what the new attic room will look like – don’t laugh, but I’m currently leaning towards a 1970s look with spider plants in brass pots and macrame hangers, and faded patchwork bedspreads. Mr Robot was pretty startled at that. I’m not a massive fan of the 1970s, as you know, so I dare say I’ll see something and completely change my mind again. But just exploring possibilities, having fun with it, working out what I like, has made me realise once more how much I love hunting out old things. Like everyone, I'm too prone to comparing myself to other people and deciding I fail to match up – not thin enough, not pretty enough, not into 'vintage enough' or not into the 'right sort of vintage', and really that's all daftness. There's no shame in just liking what we like. So if in my case that turns out to be 70s macrame pothangers, I can live with it.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Back In Time For Tea

Did you think the BBC couldn't possibly take any more forays into culinary history. WELL YOU WERE WRONG!

It's nice to be wrong, isn't it?

A new series, Back In Time For Tea, starts on BBC2 on Tuesday 6 February. 

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Dead Man's Blues [book]

Somehow Ray Celestin's debut novel, The Axeman's Jazz, passed me by, but after reading this, his second, it's rocketed to the top of my book shopping list.

Dead Man's Blues is set in Chicago in 1928, a long, hot summer when Al Capone's power was at its peak, and follows three investigations: two Pinkertons, Ida Davis and Michael Talbot, are on the trail of a missing rich girl. Gangster Dante Sanfelippo is brought in by Capone to investigate a poisoning that appears to be an attack on his operation. And crime scene photographer Jacob Russo, whose disability prevents him joining the police force, feels compelled to look into a gruesome killing on his own.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

A new bedroom - perhaps

1948 yellow bedroom
Bedroom, 1948-style
Advance warning: Mr Robot and I are thinking of getting a loft conversion, and that means I’m going to bore you massively about bedrooms over coming months. YEARS even.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

What are you looking for?

Have you ever found something in a charity shop that you just couldn't leave behind, not because you wanted it, but because you knew someone would, and it might get trashed if you left it? The unusual shape of this box caught my eye on Saturday - and when I opened it, I was amazed to find out it was a 1950s music box manicure set. All that pink ruching looked like something I'd expect to see in Jayne Mansfield's infamously kitsch pink house. I think the white tools are later additions and the pink ones are the originals. Anyway, I bought it - it was only £2 - and offered it on my Instagram feed free to a good home and it got snapped up. Similar ones are going for as much as £60 on Etsy!

Although vintage clothes seem hard to find, I do come across homewares in chazzas. So is there anything you're looking for that I can keep an eye out for? I've got 'balls in boxes' china for Vix on my mental checklist, and 'snowflake pyrex' for Liza. Let me know if you'd like me to stick something on the list for you.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

New 1920s-set crime drama

How's this for some good news? British cable/satellite TV channel Alibi is going to start broadcasting Frankie Drake, a 1920s-set crime drama.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

An Avengers (Steed/Peel) remake?

John Steed and Emma Peel from The Avengers
Do you have a strong view on remakes? Probably all of us have views that vary according to what’s being remade. Breakfast At Tiffany's? GET IN THE SEA. Dracula? Meh, another one… A lot of the time I think it depends on how iconic the film/programme, cast and characters are. In the case of Breakfast At Tiffany's, you’ve got the triple whammy: an adored film, with Holly Golightly at its heart, and only Audrey Hepburn can be Holly. (That in itself is ironic as the heroine of the original novella is blonde, and Marilyn Monroe was pencilled in for the part. I think we’d have seen a more tragic Holly in that case, less cool and more fragile.) For me The Avengers (NOT the Marvel ones, of course) is another example, but film and TV makers don’t seem to agree with me as they keep trying to remake it.

Yes, they’re trying again.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

It's nice to go travelling

Isn't the weather horrible right now? I really dislike this time of year; it's cold and grey and soggy and nothing much grows. Needless to say it's spurred Mr Robot and I to finalise everything for our trip to India. We've had our final jabs, and I've booked our trains and remaining hotel. Booking trains was a bit of an adventure; if you have to make a change you have to book each leg of the journey separately, and you need to specify which class you want to be in (and there seems to be a fair number of classes). I think I got it right – we shall find out in a month or so's time. Could anything else possibly go wrong?

It's time for another tale of Things That Don't Fit.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Feud for thought

 So, terrifyingly, I’ve finally seen someone on telly other than the Queen who dresses the way I do instinctively. You know: matchy-matchy, not too flamboyant in shape, blingy bit of jewellery on top. Unfortunately, it’s Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford in Feud.

Friday, 5 January 2018

A work day [outfit post]

It's great seeing people's everyday clothes. A number of my favourite bloggers show theirs, and I always enjoy getting an idea of what they look like day-in, day-out. Let's face it, as nice as it is to see lovely outfits for special occasions, most of us don't dress to the nines every day of the week, and a bit of inspiration for outfits on a day-to-day level is always welcome.

NB I am not expecting this to inspire anybody, I just thought you might like to see what I look like on a work day. I have several clothing combos that are in regular rotation, and this pussybow blouse (East, years ago) and tweedy mini (Monsoon, also years ago - the lining's knackered beyond repair but I still wear it) are among my winter staples. Always with opaque black tights, and usually my black brogues or, as today, hiking boots, though those are out of shot. The cardi was new to me last summer; I got it for £2 in a chazza and it seems to go with so many things I wonder how I did without it. And for Goody, Smell du Jour is Rochas Alchimie.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

State of the Vintage Wardrobe: year eight

Can you believe this is the eighth post I've done like this? Eight! And this year, looking back, I've worn a lot of modern things. Over the years I've collected lots of lovely vintage bags, accessories and clothes that I really like... and in 2017 most of the clothes got very little wear. The repro Heyday! Judy dress in this pic is one that did get a lot of outings. It's also one that gets loads of compliments - one lady even stopped me in the supermarket to ask about it.

So why didn't I wear my vintage? I'm not going to avoid the elephant in the room, I'm too damn fat. I still have all my clothes because I like them, but I can't wear most of them. So while in my previous seven annual wardrobe posts I talked about things I wanted to buy or make, the direction I really wanted to take, in 2018 I'm jolly well going to go to the gym more (it tailed off a bit when I got stressed at the end of 2017) and get back into all the clothes I love, because I am NOT going to get rid of them. It's not like there's masses out there to replace them with at my current size anyway.

Anyway, on to happier things. This has been a bit of a novelty print year for me. I got my space cats dress from Lindy Bop, and another dress covered in witch doctors and zombies. I like them because they're border prints, not all over, and the space cats and zombies are in keeping with my more geeky horror/sci-fi interests. I don't really class these dresses as repro, though, they're far too modern. Pinup, perhaps. I don't think I'll be wearing things like this on a regular basis, but they're nice to have for cheery occasions.