Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's not vulgar! c. 1946

Lucky the pattern has that disclaimer on the bottom - you can display some cleaveage without the slightest hint of the grotesque or vulgar.

sexy 1940s novelty jumper sweater free knitting pattern

The pattern for this summer top is from Nina Wall's Book of Light Weight Knitting, which appears to focus on lighter, cotton knitwear.
This little jumper has a nice stripe pattern - but check out the V-neck, yowza! Risque indeed. I've honestly never come across something so low-cut from the forties.
To fit a 34 inch bust, and knitted on 3.25mm and 2.75mm needles using fingering weight yarn.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Outfit Quickie -- Bobbles for Autumn

Only a few days left now before we leave for the USA, and the weather here in Sydney has finally started to shift into Autumn - its about 22c/72F, crisp but still humid unfortunately.

As soon as it starts to cool down, I'm looking for good transitional knits to get me through and I spotted this cute cropped jumper at Dangerfield. It's called 'Popcorn' but it makes me think of a 1940's novelty knit!

I know I should be saving money for Viva, but it was on sale... and it teams up really well with my favourite beige trousers from HeyDay Vintage.
While I love the cropped knits that are in fashion over here, I wonder how 'contemporary' people wear them. I feel like they only look best with high waisted clothing, but the same stores only sell low waisted pants? Bizarre. Glad I don't need to look 'on trend'!
Side Note - the bobbles were just knitted from an 8-ply cotton yarn, something really easy to do and sew onto another jumper. This would be really easy to add to some plain knitwear.

Close up so you can see the knitted bobbles

A quick quiff/roll, lazy head scarf and all ready for casual Friday - my last day at work for a month! (eep morning face again! sigh...)

Jumper - Popcorn, Dangerfield
Trousers - HeyDay Swing Trousers in beige
Scarf - thrifted
Shoes - Chuck Taylors, black/black
Lipstick - Rouge Dior 638 (blaze)

I think this might be my last authored post for the next 3-4 weeks, but I have some scheduled free pattern posts coming up.

I hope you guys have a great Easter and hopefully get a rest,


Monday, April 07, 2014

A Dual Personality, circa 1940s

I love the early Patons and Baldwins Specialty Knitting books, with the hand tinted plates - they really are very sweet.

Today's free knitting pattern is from a sweet hand tinted plate, the back cover of Patons and Baldwins No. 108 (circa 1940 I think). 
This pattern is for a vest, a cardigan and sweater with two sleeve lengths - plus, the cardigan has an optional plaid patten. I really love the model's hair.

Best of all - this pattern is multi-sized! Sizes 32-34 and 35-38 inches.
Knitted on fingering weight yarn, using 3.75mm and 2.75mm needles.

I hope you enjoy the plate as much as I do :).

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Two weeks until Viva!

I apologise for the lack of posts (and comment responses) but I've been suffering from terrible headaches lately and computer screens are making it worse.
I've been trying to get my head together as Viva Las Vegas is only two weeks away.... arghhhhhh!

Is there anyone else coming too?? (I know Laurence from Lost in the 50's is going, will I see more lovely people?)

We were very lucky this year, and booked a room at The Orleans before it sold out - apparently the rooms ran out faster than ever this year.

Once again, the stress over what to bring - we're heading to New York and Chicago afterwards, followed by a couple of days in Los Angeles before heading home. That means a combination of Australian spring and winter clothing.

Lessons learnt from last time:

  • Don't bring anything that needs a petticoat - and don't bring a petticoat
  • Seperates, seperates - the best thing to bring
  • Don't always count on buying an outfit at Viva to wear - bring enough that you won't worry
  • Fancy outfits - who am I kidding, I'm just there to dance and they're not practical
  • If you see something amazing and it fits you, buy it - you won't see it again
  • Don't bother with a swimsuit unless you really love the pool - I swam once! (although, I do have a 1940's sunsuit I've been saving for VLV, but it packs down small)
  • Jewellery weighs a ton, pack light
  • Careful with the amount of bobby pins in your hair, or the TSA will pat your head down (hair scarves are the answer to easy hair)
  • It's easy to get a US pre-paid mobile card (T-Mobile on Tropicana Ave, Vegas, sell them) but don't forget to get your phone unlocked first
  • Separates are a lot more versatile and easier to wear travelling - obvious, but bring things that don't need ironing. I'm packing some poly-blend 1940's blouses and jumpers
  • Medicines - bring your own. We found it really hard to get the good cold + flu capsules at Walgreens (bringing my own Codral this time)
  • Bring anything specialised you might need - i.e a barrel curler and pins. Yes you can get them at Sallys but it saves time. Go to Sallys anyway and buy up
  • Gloves! Bring leather gloves because Chicago is like Antarctica!
  • Buy all the things that you can't get at home (hello Sephora, remember me??)

Being gay in the USA
  • Not an issue in the big cities
  • Not an issue in Vegas
  • Not an issue at all at Viva Las Vegas (in fact, Jakk didnt get the comments or looks she would here, when she used the women's bathroom/change rooms)
  • Turns out the Belmont/Lakeview/Boystown area of Chicago is the gay and antiques district - guess where we are staying?

I hope I do get to see some familiar faces there!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Stars and Stripes for the Yachting Fan, c. 1948

Today's free vintage knitting pattern comes from the Australian Women's Weekly Knitting Book 1948, and from the quality of the photo you can tell there were still war-time restrictions in place.
The model looks really fresh and elegant though, I like her headband and those shorts are lovely!

I think navy, red and white is my favourite colour combination, and this jaunty little jumper is a great way to show those colours off (or any other combination you prefer). How cute is that little star?

Sized for a 34-36 inch bust.
Knitted in fingering weight yarn, and requires 3.25mm and 2.75mm needles.

I hope your weekend is jaunty too!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

I can't afford a real Shaheen... (Butterick B6019)

So I made my own!

First up - apologies for the rushed nature of the photos (yep, there's still some pins on the straps) but it was about to pour down with rain and this was my only chance to get photos for a while!

1950s alfred shaheen plus size large gertie butterick B6019 review

The Gertie/Butterick B6019 is finally done, and what a journey. This pattern is not for the faint-hearted.
I nearly gave up twice, but in the end it's a lovely dress.

It really needed a bolero, so I made the this cute little one from Butterick 6087, circa 1952. The bolero was the exact opposite of the dress - super easy and fit perfectly out of the envelope.


  • Difficulty - bloody hard! This dress was the most fiddly thing I have ever made.
  • The Pattern - I don't think it was written very well. A lot of the instructions are counter-intuitive to an experienced sewer, and I still can't figure out why I was asked to do certain things.
  • The Fit - I went by the finished measurements on the printed pattern, and not the envelope measurements (i.e. the envelope was telling me to make a size 18 bust and 22 hip - I made a 16 bust and 20 hip). I do think the final fit is flattering, and if I followed the envelope sizes I would be swimming in this dress.

The good?
The lined bra cups - that was a neat idea!
I also liked the shirring, it was my first time and I didn't know it was that easy to do.

The meh?
Where do I start...
1. There's no way two bits of flimsy boning are going to keep a D-cup up. Ever. 
2. The skirt was really short! I added two inches to the hem, and wished I added four instead.
3. The skirt doesn't offer enough coverage for my liking, i.e. the split is a tad revealing.
4. My skirt pleat doesn't look as dramatic as the pattern's example.
5. I had to unpick certain parts (the skirt + bodice, the sash etc) and re-sew a few times to get the fit or shape right. 

Lengthened the skirt by two inches.
Added crossover straps.
Sway back adjustment.

Here's some close ups, firstly the front:

You can see the bust cups really stand up on their own.

The back:

The shirring worked really well.

Here's a close up of the bolero:

The fabric made me think of an Alfred Shaheen tiki-dress when I saw it. 
It's from Spotlight, and is a traditional hand-printed cotton from the Babbarra Women's Centre. They're empowering indigenous artists by printing their fabric designs commercially and giving them money from the sales. 

Mine is a lovely brown, ochre and cream design called Waterlily Flower, by Deborah Wurrkidj.
The fabric was really tricky to pattern match, and I think it took me two hours to get it right.

I'm also going to let you in on a little secret - I sew these little bra clips (from Spotlight too) into my dresses so I can wear strapless bras without them falling down. Shhhh, don't tell anyone!

Well, I'm glad it's finally finished, and this outfit is coming to Viva Las Vegas with me.
If you've been thinking of sewing this pattern, definitely give it a go but don't get down-hearted if it's a bit of a struggle. Unpick, resew, keep going - you'll have a killer dress in the end.

Thanks guys!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

New Zealand

On the weekend, Jakk and I flew to New Zealand for my dad's wedding, and I was really excited that we were able to hang out with my sister and her little family for the weekend as well!

I don't get to see my nieces enough, and they are both adorable.

1950s miss l fire review tortuga

I had my heart set on wearing a certain dress, when a parcel arrived the day before we flew out - and this lovely number was inside.

vintage wedding dress 1950s 1940s pin up rockabilly red hair

I originally bought it as a dancing dress, but after trying it on it seemed too nice - don't you love it when a purchase exceeds your expectations?
This 1950's dress is simply cut - dolman sleeves with cuffs, mandarin neckline, princess seams - but it's beautifully made and really shows.

Jakk wore Retrospec'd California trousers, vintage vest and a 1940's scarf - she's such a snazzy dresser, I love it!

1940s butch boi dyke vintage rockabilly style

Unfortunately there's a media blackout on all photos during the wedding, so I can't show you what my step-mother wore, but here's a shot of my nervous dad just before we left.

The wedding was in a place called Whanganui, and our first trip to New Zealand. I wish we had the time (and money) to make it a mini-holiday but Viva is just around the corner.

We had a few hours on the morning of the wedding to take a trip into Whanganui town, and visited the Durie Hill War Memorial. To get to the summit you take a very ricketty old elevator that the locals use regularly as a form of transport. I understand why, as the stairs are a killer!

The next day, we hopped on a plane back to Sydney - it felt very strange to visit a country for just three days!
My outfit:
1950's dress - SimplicityIsBliss on Etsy
Shoes - Miss L Fire 'Tortuga'
1950s rhinestone brooch - gift from Jakk
Bracelet - Mimco Love and Loss bracelet
Lurex handbag - Op-Shop (Vinnies in West Ryde).
I hope you liked the sneak peek into our weekend...
Coming up shortly - updates on the Butterick/Gertie Sarong Dress, altering a modern dress to make it more 'vintage' and more free patterns of course!