Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Garage Sale Purchase - Dress with Scalloped Neckline

Dear Readers, I hope you are having a good week. Now I know that I should be blogging about MMM, but I want to digress a little and tell you about my garage sale adventure in the weekend. I don't often go to garage sales - I prefer to scavenge the thrift stores near my work, but on Sunday morning I was looking at the Garage Sale Listing in the paper and I spied one close to my neighbourhood starting at 9am.

Now Sunday is a funny day for garage sales I did wonder if I had missed the place and then I saw the sign. I parked the car under a walnut tree and laughed at the gaggle of sparrows as they pecked at the nuts I had crushed under the wheels of my car.

I did feel a bit self conscious as I walked up the driveway - what would I find? would it be awful? The ad in the paper said "older ladies clothes" - this could mean twin sets and leisure suits or it could mean decent clothing from the 1950s. As I neared the garage where the sale was being held I walked past an aviary full of cheeping birds. The table in the garage groaned under the weight of several kilos of knitting pattern, wool and romance novels. A hand written sign said "clothes at back".

I felt the hand of trepidation clutch at my throat as I was greeted by a distinct smell as I entered "the back". I am not going to gloss over the fact that it smelled really bad in "the back", because it was so bad I thought I would choke. A combination of stale cigarettes, sweat and cat urine. I swallowed and turned my attention to the goods surround me:
  • a large table covered in neatly folded sweaters and tops piled 2 or 3 high (roughly 40 sweaters and too many tops to count) all clean I might add
  • several rows of shoes (all size 10 - not my size sadly) standing to attention around the edge of the garage
  • a table smothered in knickknacks and including housewares from the 1980s such as salad servers, nail polish and Australia souvenirs
  • a row of handbags (10 at least)
  • several rows of clothes, all on hangers on ropes suspended from the ceiling and looped up every couple of meters.
As I did a cautious circuit -careful to only breathe through my mouth - I encountered the lovely lady holding the sale, on behalf of her friend who had to go to a rest home. I met the hostesses best friend, another lady from the neighbourhood and a cat. No one was buying anything. A hopeful member of the public entered the garage and swooped on a box of trinkets on the knickknack table. Immediately the three ladies encircled her and I made my strike for the back "the back" where the smell was the worst. I am not going to say that there was an epiphany, or a moment when a sunbeam shone through the roof or any of that stuff, but I did gasp at the hand made dresses - made with love and care. One was a 1940s style satin evening dress with bodice and a skirt of several yards of fabric. A wedding dress in a 1930s style in cream with lace. A blue and grey rose tea dress - with scalloped neckline and armhole detail. Several Osti/polyester dresses, several wrap style home made knit fabric dresses. One dress which was clearly used to feed chickens in. Two fur coats. Half a dozen hats. Twenty pairs of trousers and an equal number of skirts.

The only other buyer left - I commented that the clothes were homemade and then I heart - Oh I have the sewing patterns over here if you are interested. By the stage the smell seemed to be fading, or was it my tolerance. I grabbed the tea dress noting that it was on the hanger inside out to protect it from marks and followed the bird lady to a corner where she pulled out a supermarket bag full of patterns. As I enjoyed the children's patterns from the 1950s the bird lady brought a foul smelling box over to me, and asked if I would like to look......

Yes, dear reader I kid you not when I say that there were about 50 vintage patterns from the 1930s, 40s, 50s and a few from 60s, 70s. Advance, Butterick, Simplicity, Womens Home Journal the list could go on and on. Their condition was far from ideal - the box had been wet at some point - tide marks in an ominous colour were along many envelopes. Some patterns had been used - I could see brown paper or newspaper versions in amongst. I got a gut feeling that some patterns would be pristine even if the envelope was not. I selected about 10, and then with the dress under one arm gave the bird lady $10, admired an apricot canary before getting in my car and driving for five minutes to collect myself.

In the supermarket car park you don't expect to see a lady sitting in a car, gulping big breaths of fresh air and reading sewing patterns. Well reader that was me on Sunday. Feeling sad for the lady who made clothes, and her bird friend who was selling them, and hoping that when I am old and need someone to sell all my patterns and clothes and treasures that someone will buy them and love them.

I'll be posting some picture of the patterns, and the dress, which with a little tweaking will fit me quite nicely thankyou. In the meanwhile, this pattern above is very similar to the dress - with the scallops along the neckline and sleeve /arm holes (what are those bits called??).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fabulous Friday 25th March

Hello readers - a lovely Autumn Dunedin day today so am wearing my tunic dress shown above with black leggings. Rosy has given me some words of encouragement about making it through to the end of MMM and I have re-newed excitement about the challenge.

In the background of this photo is my bathroom door - white - and the wooden door to the hot water cylinder. You might be wondering why I put my Chil-daw mannequin in this position to take photos, well the reason is I have a very small house. Very. My mannequin is currently in hallway "wearing" a selection of coats and jackets. There is no room in the bedroom and my sewing/computer/storage room is full too. I wonder how other sewers get along in a small space - taking photos of completed work is an important occasion, to mark the joyous conclusion of a project - yet due to space constrictions I am not always able to take a photo.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MMM is starting to become a challenge!

Today, I confess I am not wearing anything I have made:-(

I am wearing a beloved black white and red polyester dress bought via internet, and a grey cotton cardigan from Recycle Boutique. Like most women I guess I have combinations of clothes which I like better than others, and because I work in a hospital where it is warm and dry, I can wear a lot less layers than if I were in a shop, or factory. Most days I only wear one layer and carry a jacket or cardigan, and my legs are bare. One year I did not wear tights/hosiery until early June because the weather was fairly mild. Anyway, to get back to my point, Me Made March is starting to become a challenge for me - I am starting to worry a little that I do not have anything to wear which is quite ridiculous really.

One thing I would like to wear is my blue and white dress, BUT, and its a big BUT, it is a summer dress and I am not sure it is appropriate for the office. The neckline is not low, and I have inserted white fabric at the bottom of the neckline and around the bottom of the armholes to ensure that there is no grotesque skin or bra showing (I write grotesque not because I wear a grubby old bra, or have rolls of lard like fat, but because I think that it looks awful to see someone dressed nicely but their underwear is showing.)

Really pleased to see that Rosy is continuing to blog about Alfred Hitchcock - Rear Window this time. In this film Grace Kelly is the epitome of class, refinement and grace. She is almost too good to be true - so well dressed and prepared, with all the right accessories and hair. James Stewart by comparison is a rough and ready photographer who has broken his leg while on assignment. I have suggested that the next dress that Rosy makes is the black and white one worn by the nurse Stella. ALthough it might not be as glamourous as the dresses worn by Grace it is a lovely dress, very practical and with a nice neckline.

Tomorrow, dear reader is another day. What will you wear for MMM? What will I wear?? Tune in tomorrow to find out.

Me Made March Wednesday 23rd March

Wore this skirt today with light green thrifted Portmans fitted short sleeve shirt and David Elman shoes. Weather has cooled down quite a bit and for the first time I did wish I was wearing socks as my feet felt cold. Yesterday I wore a denim skirt and a me made top which I forgot to take a picture of...as usual.

On a different note, while uploading photo of skirt I found a photo of this lovely Batik /ethnic / malaysian looking material in my stash which I bought from TradeMe.

Yes, dear reader those are indeed my favourite flowers - peonies! That is why I bought the fabric. I am wondering what I might do with this fabric I keep looking at it, but some how I cannot find the right pattern. Do you ever face this dilemma? You have the fabric but cannot find the perfect pattern? Or have you found the cutest pattern and now must go on a quest to find the ideal fabric? Below is a picture of a pattern I paid $4 for which for me is a lot. Most of my vintage patterns are purchased for 50 cents from thrift stores.

I really love the different styles of blouse - the ruffled jabot and the ruffled v neck in particular. My problem is that I cannot think what kind of fabric I would want to use for this project. Maybe something soft and drapey? I also think I can make and wear one of the pullover dresses - I like the look of the tweed check pattern! I have seen some very good blogs and websites about vintage patterns with comments about what the models might be saying to each other if they were real people rather than drawings. I think the lady at the back with the blonde pony tail is ignoring the two at the front because they are being mean to her. The lady with the ruffled jabot reminds me of Marnie a little!

The end of an era...

This morning I woke up to the news that Elizabeth Taylor is dead. She is the actress I have heard so much about - yes I confess from women's magazines - and yet, only ever watched one of her films. In the decade before I was born her film career was at its height, and yet she seems to have gained more fame for being married to seven men, friends with Michael Jackson, wanting to be cryogenically frozen or whatever the gossip rags have published.
When I think of Elizabeth Taylor, I think of National Velvet (one of my mother's favourites, as a horse lover), and Cleopatra - exotic, sexual, powerful, beautiful temptress and because I love Egyptian history, I also think of jewellry but most of all I think of her relationship with Richard BurtonHow intense and powerful it must be to love a man, fall out of love, divorce him and then rediscover him, love him and marry him again?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Heartfelt blog post and Monday musings

Goodmorning everyone!
For those of us in Otago, today is Otago Anniversary Day, to mark the day when settlers came here and made this hilly Scottish looking place with albatross and seals, beaches, harbours and sea-lions, swamps and forests their home.

To celebrate this occasion my family and I went down to Birch Street Wharf to watch a re-enactment of settlers disembarking from a ship and traveling by horse and cart to the Octagon. At the Octagon they formed a shanty town, with tents and a fervent Presbyterian minister! Small groups played checkers, or mahjong, ladies of the night (in broad daylight) walked with (gentle) men and small children acting as pickpockets darted amongst the crowds. It was very whimsical and a pleasant distraction from the disasters which we are observing.

A post from Camelia in Christchurch really touched a nerve with me this morning. You can read more of her post here:

One comment in particular rang true with me, about finding the normal in the garden and in sewing. Trying to find some sense of normality, something which is untouched by catastrophe, something which endures and something which distracts us, by making us busy and productive.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Whimsical Wednesday

Items of note:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tuesday Chooseday Button Madness

Homemade button bracelet made in front of tv while watching Criminal Minds. Mainly vintage buttons approx $1 or $2 each and some modern ones threaded on thin round black elastic 50 cents a metre from sewing shop at Centre City Mall.
Worn with white vintage dinner shirt from Blenheim SaveMart and black modified skirt from Classic Clothing, black Melissa button shoes.

Ignore the messy kitchen in the background....

Homemade blue rayon top with ruffles and mother-of-pearl buttons on front: fabric < $5, buttons $5
Homemade blue and red graphic stretch cotton A line skirt:
fabric $10 from Spotlight

PS that is a genuine vintage apron on the edge of the oven, and yes I do wear it!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Proof of participation....

Monday 7th March, "Made by me" rayon top with To-A-T trousers from Red Cross Shop $1.

Today, Thursday 10th March, "Made by Me" blue rayon ruffle top with mother of pearl button embellishment and A line skirt made from blue red floral print (Spotlight) - sorry no photo

Yesterday, Wednesday 9th March, vintage rayon dress with chiffon sleeves and chiffon hem detail with leggings - sorry again, photo not available. By the way, I went to butterflies at lunch time and scored a lovely cotton voile skirt no size but fits me. Also got a pair of tweed/plaid 3/4 pants in fawn colours To-A-T brand size 12. Sadly when I tried them on at home could not get them done up. You are probably wondering why I did not try on in the shop, well there is a very good reason - the place was absolutely chocka with students!

Tuesday 8th March, vintage full skirt with polka dots and roses - ditto photo!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cute material purchased from a garage sale ...it has children, ponies, bambis and donkeys!

The bag lady's adventures continue

This bag was a bit of an impulse purchase from TM. I thought the bag looked Chinese - the picture has an oriental flavour. Anyway, it was $8.50 I think. I like the bag, but the handles are SO UNCOMFORTABLE to hold. The wood/bamboo is quite smooth and narrow so there is not much to grip onto if you know what I mean. I think I will wind some ribbon or velvet or cordroy around them. If you hold the bag by the handles, it is so long it almost touches the ground, which you most definitely do NOT want to happen. Perhaps not the best design, but it is still cute.

Me Made March evidence that I am participating

$2 Stella Greg top from Butterflies shop
modified black skirt from Classic Clothing
(****If YOU made this top would you match up the stripes at the front??)

Cute heart and arrow earrings -
brand new from Cosmic Corner $14.95

Red Lady Lichfield polyester dress $4.50 from Recycled Boutique
(Thanks to my long suffering work colleagues who take photos of me!)