Wednesday, January 23, 2013

treasure seeker

last weekend I decided to get back into the habit of "garage-saleing", something I used to do every Saturday. it's so exciting to get the weekend papers and scour them for the best sales to go to, and luckily i've now got a little helper to go with me, since Abby found she enjoys the treasure seeking as well.

cut-work lace skirt

at first we got a little discouraged, when turning up the same boring stuff we see at the local op-shops. our last stop was a deceased estate, which i always hesitate to go to because i feel like a vulture picking over someone's precious things. then i thought about the help it is to the people sorting out an estate, for us to take things away and treasure them all over again.

lovely lemon lace blouse

i found some lovely clothes and linens, but my favourite purchase was this old suitcase, still in quite good condition and just needing a bit of a clean. all the catches still work, although a little rusty, but i'm thinking it will work perfectly to house my vintage sewing patterns which need a bit of cosseting!

vintage suitcase

love the label!

these last few days i've been carefully soaking and hand-washing the garments, with a few surprises at how pristine they turned out, and also some horrors at dye running. in some ways vintage lovers are a bit like museum curators and i've found it best to err on the side of caution when washing old textiles. i've got a beautiful French silk scarf printed with the Eiffel tower that is completely shredded because i put in the washing machine to get rid of that musty old smell they sometimes have. shame, shame, i only had to learn this lesson once and now i hand wash everything!

lacy Gatsby style dress

i also scored a pile of old Women's Weekly magazines dating from the late 1950s to late 1960s. i remember Mum buying this English magazine when i was a kid, and it still had that same pink cover. back then i used to read "The Robins" but now i love reading them for the knitting patterns, gardening advice and answers to personal problems. even the ads show how different women were expected to behave and think just 50-60 years ago. i hope to scan some of these pages for your enjoyment and share some vintage knitting patterns in PDF form if i can manage it!


vintage magazines

all in all, i'm very happy with my bargains, and can't wait for next weekend when we can look for treasure all over again...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

stifled - in more ways than one

since starting the challenge to not buy new clothing, fabric or yarn for one whole year, i've noticed an awful lot of very good sales around. normally a 50% off sale on fabric would have me making long lists of what i "need", but this year i haven't even looked at the shops so that i don't get tempted by seeing a great bargain!

the weather has also turned rather ugly, hot and humid day after day, with little respite at night because the wind dies off and the cloud cover increases. this has led me to believe that i have nothing to wear, a problem that occurs every summer about this time. i honestly can't think what i wore last summer, although i'm sure it wasn't this humid. the op-shopping is very lack lustre too, rails of polyester tops and dresses languishing in the heat, making me sweat just looking at them! none of the beautiful cotton 50s dresses i'm dreaming about, or light silk 30s blouses that are on my wishlist. to be honest, these things have never been at my local op-shops, we seem to live in a town drowning in wash-and-wear fibres.

perfect vintage frocks

obviously there is only one option and that is to sew. i've been browsing vintage pattern sites for inspiration, but i've discovered that my sewing is always sparked off when i buy new fabric. when shopping in my stash i get too hung up on what garment i originally "saw" the fabric made up into, or i don't want to cut up a lot of yardage for my pattern, leaving an unusable remnant (i know i'm not the only one with these problems).

while procrastinating i've also been looking through a 1961 dressmaking book for style advice. these pictures show how stylish ladies were just 50 or 60 years ago, and how casual we have become today. even if you wear a dress and heels to do some shopping you get stared at nowadays, let alone "done" hair and red lippie. i also noticed how cool weather oriented these pages were and i'm now hanging out for autumn, my favourite season. i wonder what Australian women wore in the summer heat in the olden days, and did they just sweat it out? like me, they didn't have air-conditioning in the home, so i can only imagine the discomfort in the restrictive undergarments, gloves and hats required in past times.

1960s wardrobe planning

mix and match

just for fun, i've included a photo of a completely useless find at the op-shop yesterday, a vintage 70s wedding dress for $2! it fits me perfectly as if made for me, and only has two tiny stains that will come out with a soak, so i rescued it from the dress-up bin. the only downside to this dress is that it's made from, you guessed it, 100% polyester!

1970s wedding dress detail

Saturday, January 12, 2013

knitting - an old flame

i learnt to knit at my Oma's house when i was eight. i don't remember who taught me, whether it was Mum or Oma, but i do recall the joy of seeing rows of bubbly garter stitch emerge from my needles, the thrill of how simple it was to change colours on a new row and the comfort of being tucked up in Opa's special chair with my knitting, completely immune to the usual hubbub around me. knitting has continued to be my friend allover the place; there are photos of me doing my homework with my knitting right next to me on the table and when i moved to another state i took paid commissions and knew the pain of knitting for profit!

blue cardi lace pattern

i've never been a seasonal knitter, i will continue through humidity, heatwaves and beach sand. the only concession i make is the thickness of the wool. yes, wool, it's my favourite fibre and one i go back to again and again, after the occasional dabble with cotton or silk. it has something to do with that nostalgic idea of an English childhood gleaned from Enid Blyton, swaddled in worsted woolens from babyhood. even today i love vintage knitting and have collected numerous old knitting patterns. for years i've looked at these treasures but never dared to start, after all what is "fingering weight" or how would i ever finish a jumper knitted on size 3mm needles?

blue cardi finished!

well, i've been given these answers plus much more, with the arrival of my Christmas gift from Old Blighty, it's that famed volume A Stitch in Time, Vol 2, simply stuffed with updated vintage knitting patterns. i have to admit a tiny cheat on my resolution to not add to my yarn stash, after all i don't have much fine wool and i just had to start on one of the projects straight away! i'm making the Jan Sweater, a lovely short sleeved jumper with a chevron eyelet pattern in 4ply wool, very popular on Ravelry where you can get more details about the book.

vintage lace jumper

i've finally sewn the buttons on my blue cardigan, and blocked it, so i can call that one finished now. it turned out to be the perfect size and i really love the yarn, it's silky and slinky which is perfect for the weather at the moment (fifty shades of grey). i need to sew some nice things to go with it, but it's nigh impossible to tear myself away from the needles, after all everyone knows an old flame is the best one, right?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

folding and finishing

ooh i love a new year so much! it's that feeling of newness, the will to complete unfinished projects and to take on long overdue jobs around the house with gusto. to kick start my resolution to improve my wardrobe by handmade or thrifted items exclusively, i thought it best to have a tidy up.

tidy rails

my rules are always the same during a wardrobe rehash: if it doesn't fit it's out. for beautiful vintage or painstakingly handmade clothing that's a teeny bit tight, i make an exception and it's stored till next time. if i've stored it more than twice, it has to go. the resulting pile of rejects are donated the same day, before i can change my mind, and so far i've had no regrets!

a rainbow of knits

i've discovered so many lovely clothes that were hidden under the mess, it was like the wardrobe in Narnia (is that a fur coat?!). cardigans in every colour, perfect full skirts, summer maxi dresses and a surprising amount of denim skirts. some things just don't match with anything else, and i've noticed a need for blouses to wear with skirts, so it's off to rummage through the pattern stash and hunt through the rails at the op-shop.

blue button cardi

on the knitting front, i've persevered through the heatwave and finished my blue cardigan that i started over a year ago. when, i say finished, it still needs to be blocked and have the perfect buttons found for it, but all the knitting is finished and the ends darned in. it still looks very shrunken at the moment but i will post a true finished photo when it's been blocked. then its time to whip out the crochet hook to make the final blocks for the BAMCAL afghan i worked on most of last year. who's got time to be bored?

bamcal blocks

Monday, January 7, 2013

back to normal-ish

"they were the best of times and they were the worst of times"

i always like it when the festive season is over and things start to quieten down a little. it's not that i'm a grinch or anything, i enjoy catching up with the people i love at this time of year and there's nothing i like more than giving them thoughtfully chosen or handmade presents. it's just that living in a tourist town, it's hard to handle the extra busyness that summer brings and i have to confess my tolerance level goes down a few notches (sorry).

we are family

so, on to a new year and fresh thoughts. all those days to be filled with crafty happenings, exciting possibilities and, (gulp) resolutions. this year i have planned a major resolution, in fact it's a revolution for me, although many other bloggers have successfully done it. this year its the year of restraint, a challenge of the utmost kind first carried out by the lovely dottie angel and then many others following her example.

make do and mend

as i'm a hoarder of the worst kind, i additionally pledge to avoid new fabric and yarn purchases, only allowing pre-loved or gifted items to increase my stash. i'm quite lucky that i can make most of my clothing, so it's a little easier for me, although the lack of quality clothing in my local op-shops is a bit of a hindrance. i'm looking forward to a reduction in the stash, an increase in the bank balance and best of all, a lovely "new" wardrobe made by me. what better impetus to sew could there be? 

wish me luck everyone, and if you see me skulking around the fabric shops, be sure to encourage me to go away empty handed, tears or no tears!

summer hideaway