Tuesday, August 31, 2010

North East Valley Experience

Yesterday, as I had to purchase new cat food from the Gardens Vet I decided to take advantage of being in the suburb of North East Valley and take a look around.

I used to live in the valley and work at the shopping centre. In fact I worked there for nearly 10 years so considered myself fairly familiar with the place. First on my list of places to visit was the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army shop is crammed in alongside the grocers and closes at 4pm. I got there at 4.15pm so I kicked myself mentally and wandered up the road to Inside Out. Inside Out has been advertised in the NEV features pages of both the local community papers and I admit I was quite looking forward to actually going there.

The shop has a large heavy sliding door and as I used a fair bit of muscle to push it open the first thing I saw inside the shop was a large washing basket full of carefully folded clothes. Above the basket was a neatly written sign "50 bux box". When I had recovered from expending all my energy to open the door, and then close it, I found myself cringing at what might appear to some to be "cute" spelling. I am not a fan of "cute" spelling.

Readers who know me well (but have not yet become a devout follower of this blog but may well do so after reading this epic posting) will know that I like bargains, I like discounted or on sale items and generally I spend $20 or less a week on clothes. The "50" should have been an adequate warning to me that things in Inside Out were not suited to the Mad Hatter or Penny-Rose or any other thrift loving op shoppers. Steeling myself, I proceeded to move around the shop in a circular fashion clockwise (even exploring the mens section at the rear) until I returned to the offending sign and box, and then, carefully re-viewed the knitwear and dresses before leaving. A Misery polka dot red blouse in vintage style was $30 or thereabouts and most things were in excellent condition. Actually a large number of things were brand new. Nice. But lots of that knitted drapey style in black or red, or dark colours.

As I was leaving, I had an "oh" moment. I slid the monstrous door closed a vintage-looking retro fabric caught my eye......so I opened the door again and re-entered. By now, I am looking back and wondering why I was ignoring all the warning signs, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. The fabric was retro inspired cotton knit and "fashioned" into a dress which was nothing more than a mass produced MIC (Made in China) item. Typing "fashioned" was quite painful just then.

So disillusioned with this experience I sort refuge in the bookshop for a few minutes before walking past Tagg ( I am not a size 16 but would have normally been only too happy to go in for a look around) and returning to my car. Inside Out was clean, nicely laid out but it was also expensive and not my taste and not really a second hand clothes shop. It reminded me of Collectibles in Moray Place only this time the assistant barely spoke rather than talked non-stop to other customers. All in all not a good experience but it did reinforce my love of the Sallies, the Yellow Shop, the Red Cross and Butterflies!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A rose by any other name....

Wow, I have discovered another awesome fabric flower tutorial:


I have a small stash of felt given to me by my friend Amy when she left the Antipodes for York, UK. This can now go on my list of projects I want to try on the next sunny afternoon. I mention the sun because Oh my, dear reader the sun now shines in my kitchen in the afternoon! The veil of winter is receding and spring, is nearly springing! I spent a very happy afternoon re-beading a necklace with my daughter last week while she struggled with a horrendous head-cold. I bought the beads as a 3 strand necklace from Trademe about 2 years ago. A mixture of blue green and grey vintage beads. I made a necklace from the grey and green ones, and wore it for ages until the end with the lobster came off due to poor crimping on my part. I decided to re-string and used some cheap but equally lovely beads which were originally a necklace from Equip. Beading in the natural light is a joy. I will post photos soon, I promise.

To my delight I spent some time knitting in the kitchen yesterday afternoon while the pumpkin cooked for a wonderful pumpkin and carrot soup made with home-made chicken stock with tarragon. I am making a 1930's pattern sweater, which can be made in three hours. By an expert knitter of course. By me it is taking a lot, lot longer. I am using up two different yarns. A grey 4ply crepe I inherited from Helen and a purple tencel type yarn like Patons Zhivago which I got on special from the Warehouse about 3 years ago. Together the grey and purple are really lovely and the lustre of the purple really compliments the rather sombre grey. I know, I should take a photo and post it. Promise.

Monday, August 16, 2010

While I am on the subject of scarves....

I found a large lovely black and white scarf in the style of Hermes - you know with chains and horses bridles and things - but in fact designed by Pierre Cardin at the StVdeP a long time ago. Well perhaps last year which in terms of my resolution to not buy new clothes was when I was buying new clothes so this scarf was a bit of an anomole. It is of generous proportions which means that it can be rolled carefully to create a headband, or folded to a Hilda or Rosie style head cover, or tied at the neck.

Cute Pink Rocket Scarf...not what you think!

This little gem was found on Trademe under the heading of "train scarf" which caught my eye because my H is crezy about trains and I thought it would be a man scarf. As you can see it is not a train - not in the modern sense - but a depiction of Stephenson's Rocket. It is a proto-train. The pink is much lovelier in natural light and this photo was taken in my pink bedroom so the shading is all wrong. I think its a bit quirky to put a vintage train on a pink scarf with crazy railway lines. It is also a small scarf - almost too small to tie at the throat which means its uses are limited. It is however, still very cute.

Lady Lichfield Polyester

NB I handwashed this item in the weekend and made the mistake (not fatal) of putting it in the spin dryer. It came out a bit creased and even when dry the creases did not "fall out" as I hoped. When I read my McCalls Sewing book last night on how to wash Bri-nylon (the yellow bed jacket) I also read the bit that said don't put polyester in the spinner as it will crease. Thankfully, a COOL iron should return it to normal. The only other comment I want to make about this dress is that the material is a bit stiff, so it does not drape.

Osti Dress Caught Masquerading as Nightwear in the Butterflies Shop

Jewel in Mosgiel's Op-shop Crown

Jaded by my experience in the Sally Army shop, I walked up the main street, leaving my family at the $2 and gift store. I called in to the stationery and wool shop which was warm and welcoming to have a look at buttons and other haberdashery items. It used to be two shops and is now knocked through. There seemed to be a good selection of wools and scrapbook items (which does not interest me in the least) and two elderly Mosgieliennes were sitting near a gas heater in the middle area with fabric and the like around them, clearly ready for a demonstration or class. Despite the nice clean interior and pleasant decor, I was not greeted by the clearly unoccupied shop assistant, neither on my entrance nor my exit. So, I soldiered on, determined to have an enjoyable experience.

And then, in the distance I recognised a familiar sign: Butterflies (the word not an image) and my heart leapt a little at the prospect of actually finding a nice shop with nice people. Oh reader I was not disappointed. Neat boxes of cheaper items on the pavement were carefully labelled and the window display was full, but not bursting so I could peek into the store. Oh joy, it was small, crowded and full of potential. The moment my foot was in the door a cheery voice called out Hello. Seconds later - on the $1 sale rack inside the door on the right - I spied a black pleated skirt with large red polka dots.

Within minutes I had scoped out the stuffed racks and scanned the crowded walls. The black skirt was put on the counter for trying on, when I turned and looked up at the polyester dresses and one in particular with a check pattern grabbed my attention:
This vision of loveliness minus its original label was modestly priced at $6. So I entered the changing area - out the back of the shop - and very nearly squeaked with delight when I saw the pile of shoes "ready for sorting" and I was slightly distracted, enough to be chided by the lady assistant so I tried on the dress and skirt quickly to allow another customer access to the changing area. I decided that rummaging was not beneath me, in fact it is a requirement when feeling the urge to find treasure so I crouched (somewhat awkwardly holding the dress and the skirt and my handbag and my coat) amongst the shoes and found one dark blue Mary Jane style shoe that looked like it would fit me. Quickly I tried it on - I felt like a giddy Cinderella - and then scrabbled around - like Cinderalla in the cinders - for the partner. There, an almost unworn pair Hush Puppies!!!
Dear reader the trip would not have been complete without skimming through the underwear and selecting a bed jacket in the lightest lemon, made from Bri-Nylon and in pristine condition. Priced at $2 it felt like a crime to leave it behind.
As the lady totted up my items, she somewhat guiltily said "$10?" for the shoes and I smiled broadly and handed her a $20 note saying keep the change, its been a pleasure.

Success at Mosgiel Salvation Army marred by poor service

Mosgiel Salvation Army was the first place I called into on Saturday morning. It is a large store - spacious in fact - and items are carefully grouped together. There was a good selection of 1980s and 1990s dresses - nothing in my vintage though. The prices were fair and ladies clothes were neatly grouped on racks which were full but not overstuffed. Amongst the linen and aprons I found Homes and Gardens sewing book for $1 which I clung onto for dear life. I tried on two wonderful hats which were randomly on a display and sadly did not fit me. For the entire time we were there which was approx 20 minutes, the lady at the counter talked in a loud voice to people she knew coming into the store which I found irritating. I was disappointed when we placed our items on the counter (Husband and daughter had a selection of books and cassettes) we were not even worthy of a greeting, please or thank you. It was then I realised that the smell which lingered around the clothes was actually the odour of stale fat from frying fish and chips. So although it is well laid out, reasonabley stocked and fairly priced, the overall mood of the place was disappointing. I will wait a month or so before visiting again.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The post without a title

The difference between my real life (lives) and the life that I would like - in terms of fashion and sewing - is perplexing me.

I work as an administrative assistant in an office of the Dean of faculty within a University in the year 2010. I am at the coal face (well at a computer screen), I have no supervisory responsibilities, I "look after the office" ie ensure photocopy paper, tea, coffee and biscuits etc are always on hand for meetings and I do a pile of admin things like typing, accounts, spreadsheets, report, minutes and arrange lectures. Okay, I am minimising some things. But you get the picture.

Prior to my Revolution (or is that mid-life crisis?) I wore fairly standard stuff to the office. A mix of Dunedin in Black or cheap rip off wish it were from Nome D' but really from KMART, Pagani and Shanton. A few drapey knits and wrap tops, over trousers or leggings. In summer I am fond of A line skirts (made by me) and tee shirts. The odd piece of vintage clothing or costume jewellery. I owned lots of cheap pairs of shoes. I have about 20 costume rings which I wear most days. I thought I looked professional and smart. Possibly sexy. Mostly interesting. I am not Joan from Mad Men by any means.
Although part of me wishes I were. The dangers of being sexy at work are not a suitable topic for this blog.

I am more like Peggy. Peggy is smart / intelligent. She is not as worldy as Joan - or is she? That demure sweater is just the shade of yellow green would make most of us look like a corpse. Her fringe is so severe, its almost childlike! I am growing mine out but the hair is part of another story. I too am thickening around the waist. I eat too many biscuits in the evenings while watching tv and reading the Sookie Stackhouse books.

I am a mother and a wife - in the weekend I am frequently wearing one of the two adored aprons gifted to me by my mother-in-law and my EMU boots, tee shirt and jeans, scrubbing floors, washing clothes, ironing, baking, tidying, dusting, and a myriad of other household activities. When I have to go off the property (as opposed to out of the house) I remove the apron. I seem to adopt a different persona in the weekend - sloppy Penny-Rose with a less than attractive sweatshirt and sneakers. I rarely wear jewellery - leaving my hands bare so I can get my rubber gloves on and off easily.

Recently I have taken to wearing a CanTeen bandanna over my hair -
not quite Hilda Ogden

or Rosie the Riveter but somewhere in between.

Now I find myself inexplicably drawn to polyester shirt dresses from the 1970s, or the 1940s style dress with sturdy (in my case furry) shoes.

I want to look neat and tidy. Like I work hard - the shop smock effect I guess. Maybe its the working class union delegate thing, about being one of the workers, being part of the team of ants which keep the machine going. Not quite a uniform, not quite a military costume, but something which indicates hard work and the culture of working. Hilda worked hard - she always looked worn out, I bet her hands were wrinkled and her knees would be achey from scrubbing door steps. She wore a smock to protect her clothes and a scarf to protect her hair. When Hilda gets dressed up we snigger - she is so careful in her good clothes, so mindful that they cost her a lot of money (comparatively) and she tries so hard to look nice. We snigger because we feel awkward, because we can't really identify with her.

Rosie worked in a welding factory - with biceps and a hard look in her eye, she's seen a few things on the shop floor. Her badge of femininity is her red polka dotted scarf. Rosie looks like a union delegate, she would be able to hold her own if Management tried to interfere in something in her domain. (Joan would just flirt her way out of it, and Peggy would try reason and then go for abject compliance). Rosie swears like a sailor when things go wrong. What does Rosie wear when she is not at work? Rosie is in the factory to do a job. At home she knows that the man of the house is overseas at war, in conflict, in peril. Perhaps in the arms of another woman. Perhaps gazing up at a nurse. She has to face the incoming bills, the lack of food, the rationing, the blitz, the screaming nightmares of her children, or maybe the loneliness of having none.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Future Sewing Planning:

So, the grey polyester fabric which was/is intended as my next sewing project (Okay, once Burda 6009 is complete).
Which of these patterns is most appealing???

I love the angle placket front on the Butterick pattern - it really is quite unusual. With interfacing I think this would work nicely. I am small busted and this could be flattering on me - not too much bust to make the fabric gape. I would do a bound button hole too and could use one of the amazing vintage buttons I bought in the weekend (but more about them later). The simple neckline means that the eye is drawn down to the placket/button.

However, the fabric is fairly floppy which means that although it should drape quite well - it's not that suitable for one of the structured sharper style shirt dress like Simplicity 8051 or 8585. These would be better in a polished cotton or sateen cotton or denim. I love these styles as I have blogged about previously. My love of 1970s polyester Lady Lichfield or Miss Jennie style dresses is well known. Maybe I should be something quite different?

Simplicity 7592 - I would be tempted to make the jacket in a contrasting colour - maybe yellow and use the grey on the lapels as it is on the front of the pattern. Again nice simple neckline (reader, my trapezoids are very angular even without all the swimming, but the jacket collar might provide some camoflauge in this area, I do not want my neck to look like a giraffe).

Simplicity 3535 is another possibility. The collar could be done with interfacing without losing the lovely drape. The front fold would hang nicely and I predict that any leg showing would be decently covered in suitable hose. The coat style is one I like - functional as well as being good with layers in winter. The collar looks like it would show off quite a bit of decolletage - so I would have to make sure that my posture is 100% spot on.

Is the Famous "Ema's Top" pattern also a possibility????
Somehow when I see this pattern I think summer fabric - not grey polyester/

Or the more modern Simplicity 7073??
Nice detail on the back - but do I want to draw attention to this area?
Peony tattoo on show for all to see. Or spots depending on how my fickle skin is behaving.
Way too much information I know. Just scrub that from you mind dear reader.

Okay I think I have made a decision.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hoorah Thursday

It pays to be patient....

The fruits of my labour today or rather, fruit of my labour is a pristine Glengyle grey fleck Trevira (40%) Wool (40%) and Angora (20%) Raglan sleeved (perfect for swimmer's shoulders) cardigan. $5 at StVdeP.

How happy am I?

Woo Hoo Wednesday

They say, dear readers, that all good things come to those who wait, and now I have irrefutable proof.

I went to Recycle Boutique yesterday lunchtime - I needed to see the sun and to feel the cold Otago breeze on my skin before being stuck in a long long meeting for most of the afternoon. To my absolute delight on the $4.50 rack at the back were three polyester shirt dresses!!!!!!!!

The first, a red slightly oriental patterned Lady Lichfield size 14 in pristine condition. Covered buttons and skinny tie belt.

The second, a apricot/pink with turquoise floral (more like bunches of flowers) also Lady Lichfield size 14 in pristine condition.

The third, a blue and red splodge pattern Eve St Clair (ie modern made in china) shirt dress masquerading as a 1970s shirt dress. Reader, don't worry I did not even try this one on.

I did however, try on the red and the apricot. The red looked stunning, especially as i was wearing patterned tights - lacey with a touch of paisley. The apricot was not so good - the colour was all wrong for me. I was SO pleased that I had not even considered trying and buying the red one when it was $27.50!

Then a quick dash round the corner to the Butterflies shop where I chose 3 belts suitable for a girl - one Paul Frank in red canvas, one light green with leather trim and buckle, and one cream canvas with D ring. Fifty cents each - what a bargain.

There is a good selection of polyester dress on Planet Retro at the moment:

Monday, August 2, 2010

One of the boys

Joining the "boys" today by wearing SaveMart dinner shirt and red tie with white polka dots.
Teamed up with straight black skirt and furry shoes. Not really conventional clothing for an office. Received a few glances - puzzlement, horror, confusion.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Brave New World

Status report for Resolution 2010
aka "I won't be buying any more brand new mass produced poorly made clothing"
aka "I will try and make more of my own clothing"

Resolution Total Time elapsed: approx 4.75 months (most of March, and all of April, May, June and July).

Total number of zero clothing purchase days: 30 All of July minus the day I bought the Osti sundress masquerading as a nightie at the Butterflies shop

Total number of Brand New Items:
O Zero none :-)
1 one pair of fake velvet ballet flats with wonky bow from TSW (aka The Shoe Warehouse), value $19.95

Total number of start-from-scratch sewing projects - status started: 2 two Ema's top, green polka dot top

Total number of start-from-scratch sewing projects - status completed: 0 zero

Total number of altered swing projects: 3 three: white and blue polka dot dress, Blue polished cotton dress, vintage looking Made in China Blouse

Total number of fashion fatalities: 1 one. Made in China blouse - the collar has separated from the shoulders on one side - showing that an inadequate amount of hem was used. Cost of blouse: $4

Executive Purchasing Summary:
Preloved shoes: 3 [Furry black shoes, suede looking brown shoes, black and white David Elman's
Preloved shirts: 3 [pink striped, orange polyester, Made in China Fraud
Preloved pants: 2 [navy pin stripe and grey dress pants from Red Cross
Preloved dress: 6 [blue and white polka dots, blue polished cotton, white black and red polka dots, green chiffon, Osti sundress, light green underdress
Preloved coats: 1 [curly fur
Preloved fur: 1 [purple stole
Preloved gloves: 1 pair

Summary: Overall Penny-Rose is showing good control of her resolve, with only one albeit major transgression at the Shoe Warehouse. Her purchasing pattern shows that she has developed an interest in dresses suggesting a stylistic move from the "who am I going to be today" to a more focussed approach. The absence of tops and tee shirts is evidence that she either has plenty of these to wear or is moving away from this style as it does not integrate into her new look.

Points: total committment out of 475 = 470
Demerit points for new purchase and fraudulent items: 170
Total score = 300