No Snow, All Sew

Sweetpeas!

Firstly, sorry for my blogging neglect this month. I’ve been away from my sewing machine, and a stream of family events have totally soaked up my December. Fortunately, things are a little calmer now that the holidays have passed – although I still have 10 days of time in the US!

That said, I’ve had a super successful Christmas sewing-wise. My family have totally embraced the hobby and have taken it upon themselves to give me gifts that would held me move forward with new projects and skills.

Books

From my fiancé’s lovely parents, I got a couple of sewing-themed books: ‘Couture Sewing Techniques’ by Claire Shaeffer (which I’m already knee-deep in) and ‘Everyday Fashions of the Forties’. The second is an amazing collection of illustrations, photos and ads from Sears Catalogues of the 1940s. Also pictured are two gorgeous vintage brooches bought for me by my mum and the photo’s background is 3m of a 1940s fabric from my parents. Needless to say, I’m insanely excited to find a pattern worthy of this material!

Knowing my love of old magazines, my fiancé got me three American magazines from the 1940s (two Woman’s Day, and one Better Homes and Gardens). He also got me a couple of old sewing manuals, providing tips on various vintage sewing techniques.

Accessories

And finally, my fiance’s parents sorted me out with some extra accessories! Pictured on the right of the photo is a tomato pincushion – I’m told this is an American staple!

So there’s no doubt that I did very well this year, and I can’t wait to get back home so that I can start putting everything to use. For now, I’m contenting myself with a stroll through the magazines and books. The collection of 1940s Sears Catalogue photos has been providing me with some extra inspiration for future makes. A few dresses have totally caught my eye:

Aren’t they divine? I just need to find some patterns that will work!

Anyway, my loves, I hope that you have all had a fabulous December, whether celebrating Christmas, another holiday, or just relishing in the winter weather. I’ll be back shortly with a few new patterns that I’ve collected, plus some insights into the domestic life of the 1940s. In the meantime, have a fabulous New Year’s celebration – I’m massively looking forward to getting to know you all even better in 2016!

Laura x

Hats

Me and Mama Clarke doing some vintage hat shopping!

‘Tis The Season

Hello from the US!

I’m determined not to let my travelling interfere with my attention to Sew for Victory, but jet lag has sadly gotten the better of me over the past few days. Fortunately, I’ve managed to get in a little bit of sewing – albeit hemming a bridesmaid’s dress for someone else (in exchange for a hair cut!). I stowed away a couple of sewing projects – the Joan dress (which I’m determined to finish) and a repeat of the Belle Curve dress in a fabulous art deco fabric. So I should be plenty occupied!

This has also been my first chance to show off my handmade clothes on this side of the Atlantic.  And a great opportunity to take a first-hand look at American vintage clothes and accessories. Even in the backswamps of Missouri, vintage shops aren’t too hard to come by. I will be spending the greater part of tomorrow visiting these local hotspots for anything that catches my eye. In particular, I’m hoping to find some nice vintage brooches and hair pieces.

Something like this …

pearl brooch

Or this …

colourful brooch

I also adore this art nouveau-style moonstone brooch:

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Hopefully I’ll come back with something gorgeous! What about you? Do you wear any vintage-inspired accessories to accent your style?

Will report back soon!

L x

Inspire A Style: ‘Little Edie’ Bouvier Beale

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The beauty of sewing your own clothes is the unlimited creative freedom in putting together your own style. Part of the reason why I started sewing was my disillusionment with trying to hunt out my style of clothes from a fairly monotonous selection. Finding clothes in high-street shops is made all the harder by the fact that I handpick inspiration from a variety of eras, not usually reflected in current fashions.

After a few questions about the source of my style, I thought that it would be a good idea to introduce a series of running posts that feature my most prominent fashion role models. Today, I’m celebrating the unique style of – the little-known – Little Edie Bouvier Beale.

Who?

Little Edie is in part known for being the cousin of Jackie Onassis Kennedy (a fashion goddess in her own right). But following a scandal in which health inspectors declared the Bouvier Beale mansion ‘Grey Gardens’ uninhabitable, Little Edie was herself thrown into popular attention. In 1975, the Maysles brothers – two documentary makers – decided to make a feature about the eccentric and reclusive life lived by Little Edie and her mother (appropriately named, Big Edie) in their dilapidated and decaying mansion. The resulting filmGrey Gardens, is a poignant and revealing insight into the lives of these two women, dealing with a reality in which “it’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present.”

Edie YoungLittle Edie in her youth

Why?

One unexpected consequence of Grey Gardens was the sudden position of Little Edie as something of a fashion icon. Watching the documentary, it’s clear why. Little Edie is a woman who marches to the beat of her own drum entirely. Her style reflects this.

Due to the onset of alopecia in her twenties, Little Edie spent much of her life without any hair. As a result, Edie adopted her signature headscarves –  a defining feature of her fabulous look.

Little Edie’s life at Grey Gardens, poverty-stricken and centred around looking after her elderly mother, ensured that her style was a pick-and-mix of past eras. As Edie herself says of her wardrobe:

“My costumes? That’s a protest against having worked as a model for the Establishment, believe it or not. A lot of models feel that way. Sometimes their lives are protests against having worked as models. Besides, I didn’t have time taking care of mother to get out and buy any clothes. So I used what was left of mine and mother’s in the attic.”

liledie

What?

Little Edie’s style is perhaps best known for the fabulous vintage headscarves, fastened with gorgeous vintage brooches. This is such an easy detail to recreate. Grab a silk (or polyester) scarf, pop it over your head, and fasten at the neck with a brooch. I have a variety of brooches – some vintage, some vintage-inspired. Really anything works.

Little Edie also inspires a love for faux fur (although I’m sure that her furs were real, please AVOID). I was hugely drawn to my new coat because of the faux fur edging, reminding me of Edie’s gorgeous looks.

Edie has inspired modern designers. Marc Jacobs and Isaac Mizrahi have both created garments based on Edie’s unique style. For a quick look at her most inspired ‘costumes’, see ‘Little Edie’s Top Ten Outfits from Grey Gardens’.

Taking this all back to sewing, it is easy to find patterns that allow for a recreation of Edie’s infamous style. One of her classiest looks is a long-sleeved shirt worn underneath a simple shift dress. Decades of Style’s Given A Chance dress would be perfect to recreate this sleek look. Sew Over It’s Cowl Neck dress would also work really well.

One of my absolute favourite looks sported by Edie is her amazing one-piece bathing suit.

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To recreate this look and create a wearable, versatile piece, take a look at Sew La Di Da Vintage’s Margo 70s Playsuit. I’ve yet to make up this pattern so I can’t vouch for its ease of use – but the finished product certainly looks fabulous!

I love Edie – for her imagination, optimism, and general resilience. She is a role model for more than her style. Find a free 90 minutes and watch Grey Gardens to discover this relatively unknown icon.

My Vintage Life: 1940s Hair Roll Tutorial

Hi loves!

I have been away in PhD land for the past week and my sewing has gone sadly unattended. It is staring at me from my sewing table and making me feel extremely guilty. Fortunately, I have a free week until I fly off to the U.S. on Saturday – so fingers crossed my Joan dress will get some love and attention!

Since I don’t have much to show you in the way of sewing progress, I thought I would stop in with a little hair tutorial. So much of the vintage style is in the details and, while I like to throw in my own twists (I am OBSESSED with cowboy boots and work them in to a whole host of outfits), I do like to try to take my hair and makeup as vintage as possible. A recent mishap with some scissors – I won’t go into this here for fear that you will never trust a word I say again – left my hair drastically shorter than it was. To my delight, I discovered that the fabulously simply 1940’s roll works just as well on short hair as long. Since it’s such a quick and easy style to put together, I thought this would be a good place for us to start!

*Disclaimer: This is the first ever hair tutorial I’ve attempted. Hopefully the photos are detailed enough (thank you to my lovely fiancé for his help)! But don’t hesitate to email me if you need any elaborations!*

Step 1: Separate off a section of hair on both sides of your head. I usually follow up from behind my ear and to my parting.

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Step 2: Take the remainder of your hair and put into a ponytail. Slip the band down slightly so that the ponytail is relatively loose (this will allow you to create the little nest needed in step 3).

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Step 3: Make a little ‘nest’ in your hair.

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Step 4: Pull your ponytail up and tuck it into the nest. Depending on how much hair you have, this may take quite a bit of effort (and a bigger ‘nest’ to fit it all in).

Step 5: Secure this roll with bobby pins (how many you need will depend on the length and thickness of your hair. I have a LOT of hair, so it takes many many clips).

Step 6: Taking one of the pieces of hair at the front of your head, twist tightly and pin into your roll. Repeat with the piece of hair on the other side of your head.

Step 7: Tidy up as needed (secure any stray bits of hair). Give it a spray. And voila! Parfait!

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Super easy and super vintage. I am in love.

L x