Friday, 14 June 2019

Who ordered Autumn early?

 This is usually my favourite time of year, as spring slides into summer, but the weather here in Britain has been truly awful. Rain, rain, rain and... oh, more rain! I shouldn't grumble too hard; one part of Lincolnshire is flooded after getting two months' rain in two days, but it would be better for my tomato plants and flowers if we had some more sunshine.

The upshot of all this horrid weather is that I've dug out my winter coat again, and have been wearing my heavier clothing again. This blue dress is the one I bought to wear to a work event earlier this year. It ended up causing a massive anxiety flare-up for me. I had thought of getting rid of the dress – it was a charity shop purchase to start with – but you know what? I like this dress. And it's not the dress's fault I had such a bad time the first time I wore it again. So I wore it again and had a good day, and it's not an unlucky dress.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

New-to-me midcentury knitting patterns

A pile of vintage knitting patterns
Look what arrived in the post from Veronica! A set of lovely midcentury knitting patterns. I’m always amazed the ones that came as pullouts from magazines or newspapers, like the ones at the back-left and back-centre here, have survived as the paper wasn’t the strongest to start with, so I take good care of them.

Monday, 3 June 2019

[Music] Abney Park, Ancient World and Aether Shanties

I reviewed a very punky steampunk album back in April, which I knew wouldn’t be to most people’s taste. However, one of the things I love about steampunk is its diversity and creativity; if one thing doesn't appeal to you, the next thing might be just your cup of duelling tea. That’s especially true on the musical front, which covers everything from chap-hop to punk to things like Abney Park. Their music is full of lush harmonies and instruments beyond the band-standard drums and guitars. Violin, piano and banjo are three that feature in particular. The lead singer is male but there’s often a female vocal harmonising and intertwining.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Gisela and Mim get steamy!

If they're going to put hats out, I'm going to
make an arse of myself...
On Saturday I went over to Didcot to meet up with the ever-brilliant Gisela of Miss Magpie's Musings.  It felt like ages since we'd last met up, so she suggested a day at Didcot Railway Centre, which I was very much up for. You can't really beat a day with good company and steam trains, can you? And fortune smiled on us and we had brilliant weather for the day.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Picky about telly

Summer of Rockets starts tonight on BBC2
I mentioned the Miss Fisher spin-off Ms Fisher’s MODern Murder Mysteries some time back. It’s been airing in the UK but I haven’t spoken about it because… well… I don’t like it! I’ve been hankering for a vintage-set TV series, preferably crime drama, but none of the ones that come on have really hit the spot for me, and I’ve been trying to work out why that is.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Apples for an apple

I finished sewing this skirt over the Easter weekend but you’re only seeing it now because I really wanted to wear these shoes with it, and as they’re a sort of snake-patterned suede I wasn’t prepared to wear them when there was still a threat of rain. It was gloriously sunny yesterday, so I was finally able to wear it. I’d wanted to wear it with a lime-green T-shirt and red cardi, but when I put the T-shirt on at the weekend I was concerned it was a bit too tight, so hopefully that outfit variation will get an outing later in the summer.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

May is the best month!

Aaaah! Aren’t you ready for the warmer weather? I know I am. May is definitely my favourite month of the year, though the current rain is not what I'd expect. We've been doing some serious Hobbitting over the Easter and May Bank Holiday weekends. Things are just starting to come to life properly in the garden. I’ve been growing some things from seed, and also bought some tiny seedlings at the garden centre that I’ve been nurturing. We cheated and bought these splendid ones fully grown, as Mr Robot was determined to have colour RIGHT NOW and wasn't prepared to wait.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Is this decadence?

When Mr Robot and I went to India last year we bought some incredible handloomed silk. We got it in Kolkata, though the shop was, as far as I could tell, one run by the Maharashtran regional government to promote their region's crafts. The silk was an absolute bargain compared to what we'd pay here in the UK. And what have I done with it? Well, today I turned some of it into cushion covers.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

I made a shirt!

Looking at this, I can't quite believe this is the fourth garment I've made on my sewing machine. I feel like I've skilled up so quickly! I started with a pretty ropy version of a 60s sleeveless top (Simplicity 8246), which taught me I needed to do full bust adjustments. I then did a better (wearable!) version of that top, which taught me I really needed to learn how to finish raw edges, and that I need to learn how to do all-in-one facings. After that was my Colette Sorbetto, where I did finish the seams nicely, and learned how to bias-bind armholes. And now this, a full-blown shirt. No gape in the button bands, and no bra visible at the armholes.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Hobbitting around

Have you had nice weather this week? It's been absolutely glorious here – and though I had to go to work on Monday because DEADLINE I've had the rest of the week off, and I've been putting it to good use.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Dinosnores!

Mr Robot bought us tickets to Dinosnores For Grownups at the Natural History Museum in London, and our sleepover was last night.

We arrived in London early and pottered round Chinatown and Soho, then crossed to South Kensington on the Tube, which was heaving because of the anti-Brexit march. (We had camping gear with us, and couldn't risk getting kettled and missing Dinosnores, so we didn't go near the march.)

Because we were carrying stuff, and I'd need to dress in the same things today as yesterday, I went for the practical option: the Dinosnores T-shirt Mr Robot got me (of course!), my brown herringbone trousers, my vintage Dunn and Co tweed jacket, and hiking boots. Possibly a bit macho; I joked to Mr Robot that as he was also in tweed jacket and brown trousers we were in his and hers outfits, and he said they were more like his and his outfits! Anyway, looking at the photo he took of me as we waited to be allowed in, I don't think I look too blokey. Red lipstick and a good blow-dry triumphs.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

New project: sleeveless shirt

Thanks for all the supportive comments on my last post. I’m already feeling a bit better. I’m really lucky; Mr Robot is, of course, brilliantly supportive, and on top of that my workmates are fantastic when I’m having one of my wobbles. Happily, I’ve got four days off next week so I’m planning to have a nice time pottering around gardening, going to the gym, and making things*. The most exciting thing I’m planning to make is this sleeveless shirt. One of my lesbian chums described sleeveless shirts as 'the ultimate butch item', which made me laugh as I see them as part of that incredibly chic and feminine 60s look – then again, I doubt she's imagining them paired with pencil skirts and kitten heels. I couldn't find a vintage pattern in my size, so went with this modern one.

I’m going to make the simplest version, version A, with no sleeves at all. The armholes are edged on the inside with bias binding, just like my rocket top is edged on the outside, so that’s a simple thing to do. Making the collar and button placket will be completely new, however – and after watching this week’s Sewing Bee, where a few of the contestants struggled with jacket collars, I’m prepared for that to be a tricky thing.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Mosaic made!

Mr Robot gave me a mosaic kit for Christmas and this weekend I finished it!

I'm currently back on my beta-blockers, which I take when I'm stressed. Not sure what's knocked me off-balance but it's pretty bad. I've spent the weekend doing gentle things. Making the mosaic was part of that. Just me, my kit, and CDs of 1960s dramatisations of Sexton Blake*. When I'm stressed I find doing stuff with my hands, things that I have to focus on (so things like sewing, not knitting which I can do in front of the telly) is ideal. I'm so busy concentrating on whatever it is that I'm making that I can't think about other things.

The outline of the seahorse was drawn onto the backing, and the kit came with a colour picture of what I needed to do, but it was ultimately up to me how I filled it in – I didn't have to copy the exact tile shapes and layout. Cutting up those tiles and gluing the little squares in place is quite an absorbing, thoughtful activity, though the pincers are jolly tough on the hands. People who make a lot of mosaics must have stronger palms than me; if I hadn't finished yesterday I definitely wouldn't be cutting more tesserae today. It also took longer than I'd expected it to. When I first unwrapped the kit I assumed it would take a couple of hours at most, but it took many more.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Mama's got a brand-new bag

You know the feeling when you’re looking for a particular thing and can’t find it? In my case, for a few years now I’ve been looking for a small, neat, but crossbody zip-topped leather bag to replace one I own that’s getting sadly very tatty. Small and neat, because that’s how I like my bags. Zip-topped, crossbody and leather, because I want it for travelling. I find it’s easier to get money or cards out quickly and then re-fasten a zip-top bag than a bag with a flap, crossbody leaves my hands free for taking photos (and as I will be an obvious tourist, will make things difficult for bag snatchers), and having had my sunblock dissolve one vinyl faux leather handbag while on holiday, I’m sticking to leather.

Recently I found this one in Accessorize, and it is almost exactly what I’ve been looking for. Perhaps a little squashier than I was hoping for, but it's close enough. The two pockets in the front will do for things like train tickets and possibly my phone, while there’s a zip pocket inside where my work door card can go. (Nothing worse than having to rummage round for that while a queue of people builds up behind me.)

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Too Many Clients: A Nero Wolfe Mystery

People didn't discover sex in the 60s, but they sure did make more of a fuss about it. 'Racy' is a good word, suggestive of speed; it was a fast decade, and it was a sexier one. Did the contraceptive pill and the push for women's equality have anything to do with it? Possibly. I'd say the crime novels of the decade are racier than earlier ones too, though the gunplay and fisticuffs could have as much to do with the influence of noir as anything.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying: this book is far from your classic 'cosy'. It's a crime novel that could only really have come from the 60s. A decade earlier and it would have contained too much sex; within a decade the attitudes would seem prudish. How fast things moved in the third quarter of the 20th century!

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

[music] This May Be The Reason Why The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing Cannot Be Killed By Conventional Weapons

This May Be The Reason Why The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing Cannot Be Killed By Conventional Weapons
What’s this? A steampunk review? It’s been a while since I’ve covered much steampunky, hasn’t it? (Okay, my blog content’s been adrift for a while. Sorry.) I’ve really been missing steampunk from my life recently. I think the change in magazines at work has been good for me mentally; I feel like I have more energy and willpower to do things. Making sure I take time to make things on Sundays also helps, and making things always makes me feel closer to my steamy pals, most of whom I only see online most of the time. Steampunks are mind-bogglingly creative, in my experience.

As well as hoping to attend a couple of events this summer, I’ve made a steampunk playlist on Spotify. One of the albums I’ve added is *takes deep breath * This May Be The Reason Why The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing Cannot Be Killed By Conventional Weapons by The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Sleeping with dinosaurs

No, not like that, you weirdo! Sleeping beside dinosaurs.

Wait, wut? What's all this dinosaur malarkey? It's my birthday present! For some years now that Natural History Museum in London has been running events called Dinosnores where people get to spend a whole night in the museum. I've really wanted to go, but it's very pricy. Well, Mr Robot is taking me. Yesterday he gave me a number of gifts to unwrap – amber jewellery, a jar of bath bombs shaped like dinosaurs, a duvet cover with a dinosaur print – and then gave me a Dinosnores T-shirt and little 'gift token' he'd made telling me we're going to Dinosnores.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Shorter hair!


A middle-aged woman with red hair
I've had a few inches whacked off my barnet. To be honest, this cut isn't as drastic as it could have been: I was weighing up a 'Dana Scully' cut but realised two things. One, that Gillian Anderson's hairdo changed a fair bit even over the 1990s series of The X-Files, so there was no one Scully cut, and two, that while they'd probably work on me, they probably wouldn't make me look like Gillian Anderson in any way. So I stuck with my 60s flip, and someone said the new 'do made me look like Emma Peel, so I'm happy. (I don't think I look like Emma Peel, but if I can evoke an aura of Peelishness I am a very happy Mim.)

Monday, 18 February 2019

The oldest tavern in England?

There's a question mark at the end of the title because no-one's sure which ancient tavern is actually the oldest, but the George at Norton St Philip is a strong contender. It was built in the 14th or 15th century – well, what's a hundred years? When it was renovated in the 1990s testing of the roof timbers showed they were from the 1430s, so it's at least that old. And it is jolly pretty!

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Forthcoming telly roundup

The first series of Timewasters was set in the 1920s.
So, what's got a vintage setting and is coming to (or already on) the tellybox here in the UK?

Friday, 15 February 2019

State of the Mim

TL;DR – I've had a bug, and then a pig of a print deadline, hence the silence.

I'd been congratulating myself on not getting ill this winter, so of course I went down with something at the least convenient time imaginable, a few days before one of my magazines was going to press. There was no way I could go into work last Thursday or Friday, though. I tried going round the supermarket with Pete on the Saturday and that was enough for the weekend! It's frustrating because I'd decided to do more exercise and keep my back in good order, and had hit my 10,000-step target two days running earlier in the week, and the virus put a stop to that.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

2019 Make Nine - rocket top COMPLETE!

We're only just into the second month of the year and I have just completed the first of my nine projects, the Colette Sorbetto top.

I bought the fabric I used long before choosing a pattern – I just loved this rocket print. It's Liberty Tana lawn, so pretty costly. Because of that I didn't want to risk messing the cloth up. I scrutinised the instructions for the Sorbetto very carefully, the sizing in particular. Colette say they size 18 and up for a D-cup bust, and I'm a UK GG. For my other top I had to do a sizeable full bust adjustment. Yet from what I could tell, the Sorbetto would fit me perfectly. I wasn't convinced, so made a rough mock up from an old sheet to check last weekend. Amazingly, it fitted right away! The Sorbetto is loose fitting, so perhaps it hangs differently on other people, but I was happy to make it in my good fabric without any further pattern adjustment.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Thinking about clothes colours

A woman in a red cardigan, dark blue top and cream skirt with red and navy print.
I'm still not bored of this outfit. You'll see it again this summer.
Perhaps it’s because of sewing that this has only just hit me, but I’ve never really thought about the colours of the clothes in my wardrobe. Browsing fabrics the other day – I know I don’t need any more Liberty fabric, but this season’s ‘Jude’ print is the perfect 60s-does-deco design – I was trying to work out my favourite colourway, and it hit me that the one I liked best probably wasn’t the one I’d wear.

Why? Not enough things to wear it with.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

SEWING BEE IS RETURNING

Haven't got time to do a big post on this one but... The Great British Sewing Bee is returning to telly on the 12th of February. I hadn't thought they were making any more series, so I am VERY pleased with this. Perhaps it will inspire me! I'm sure half the reason Mr Robot bought me a sewing machine last year was because Sewing Bee got him interested in the technical side of making things.

WOOHOO!

Monday, 21 January 2019

Project: reupholstering the blanket box

A blanket box covered in fabric with black and white pictures of space rockets
The finished blanket box! (In the dining room, not my bedroom.)
Social-media-free Sundays are definitely working for me. I had planned to do some sewing yesterday, but on Saturday Mr Robot and I walked past the local fabric shop, and it had some discounted upholstery fabric in the window, including some with classic science fiction movie posters and book covers reproduced in monochrome, for just £5 a metre. And I knew exactly what it would be perfect for...

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts [TV]

Silversmith Bryony in her Victorian studio
As much as I’ve loved a lot of the ‘Back In Time’ programmes, I haven’t been watching Back In Time For School because I hated school and Mr Robot would rebel if I tried to make him watch anything mostly featuring children. The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts, which started last Friday, is much more our sort of thing. It’s got social history, which I love, and making things, which we both love. I like creating things for myself, but Mr Robot really likes craft competition programmes. The Great British Bake Off is a must-watch and we really miss The Great British Sewing Bee and The Great British Pottery Throwdown, aka ‘Pot Off’. He also enjoys an American blademaking competition, Forged In Fire, aka ‘Stab Off’. The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts isn’t quite like these as there’s no elimination, though one make is hailed as the best each week. It’s a sort of hybrid of a Great British Making Things and Victorian/Edwardian/Whenever Farm.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Outfit post: mod-ern Mim

If you’re looking at this photo and thinking, “That outfit looks familiar”, well yes it mostly does. It’s virtually the same as the outfit I wore to see Caro Emerald last year. One of my colleagues, who worked for science fiction mag SFX, was leaving work on Friday. As well as making magazines, he’s a published author; if you fancy a bit of 60s-set supernatural spy-fi – two parts Len Deighton to one part Lovecraft – I recommend The War In The Dark by Nick Setchfield (and I will review it properly later this month).

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Songs to make you smile

Isn’t January rubbish? Dark, wet and cold. Bah! I’m also horrifyingly skint as a result of Christmas splurging – something I have no regrets about, but realise I need to plan better for this Christmas. Last year Mr Robot and I had our India trip to look forward to, but this year we don’t even have that. 

At work I find music really helps my mood. And when it’s dark, wet and cold what’s called for is something bright and sparkly, with plenty of warming pace. Two types have really fitted the bill over the first week or so of January: 1920s popular tunes, and 1970s disco. It’s probably a good job I have headphones as I can’t see my workmates enjoying either, but I’m not making any apologies. If Ray Miller’s Orchestra performing ‘Red Hot Mama’ or Boney M giving ‘Ra Ra Rasputin’ their all can’t make you smile, nothing ever will.

Is it a co-incidence both summon up images of sparkly outfits and serious dance skills? I think not.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

2019 Make Nine

This isn’t a New Year’s resolution! It’s not, honestly – though it will tie in to some of the things I have resolved to do in 2019, namely ‘knit and sew more nice things for myself’ and ‘have phone-free Sundays’ (because it’s easier to make things when I’m not being distracted by Discord/Twitter). Rochelle of Lucky Lucille started the ‘Make Nine’ challenge and I’ve decided to take part this year because even I can make nine things, right?

I’m trying to keep my nine fairly flexible, because plans are subject to change and I might suddenly discover I want to make something completely different. And the first one’s a bit cheaty, but there you go…

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

State of the vintage wardrobe: year nine

I'm going to end this post with some general resolutions, but first my annual look at what I've been wearing.

I'd been thinking there wasn't any point to a retrospective this year, that I hadn't really got anything to talk about, but that's not actually true. I have veered more into wearing what I like, rather than trying to conform to overall styles other people admire, which does make me feel like I'm not really part of the 'vintage community', but if people can wear top-to-toe modern pinup and be part of it, I'm going to wear my damn crimplene. I may not look authentically vintage, or even conform to the modern notion of what vintage looks like, but my clothes are definitely old enough!