1940s · Commission · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Pattern · Vintage

The Starella Sisters Make Their Debut

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Readers, I’m super excited to share with you my latest commissioned project – pin-up girl dance costumes!

You see, two of my vintage model friends, Sanjna and Pearl, recently formed a vintage dance duo, The Starella Sisters (which is a combination of their last names). They had their debut performance this past weekend at the CD release party for the Jenny Finn Orchestra.The girls did a coordinated dance to the song Chinatown My Chinatown (which you can listen to here) complete with parasols and the Charleston. The venue for this was perfect, The Secret Society, which is located in an old Victorian building and has the feel of a 1920s speakeasy (yes, I was in heaven). British Boyfriend (TM) and I made a date of it, and met a very lovely woman named Tina who told us about her Scottish husband and adorable fluffy cat named Sebastian (Hi, Tina!)

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The costumes are an altered version of Butterick 6019, which is one of the patterns by Gertie. I shortened both the wrap skirt length and made the bodice a separate bralette top, per the girls’ request. This project actually involved a number of new sewing techniques for me, including sewing pom-pom trim on (not difficult at all, just something I’ve never done before) and shirring the side back bodice pieces with elastic thread in the bobbin. I’d seen this technique done once before on an episode of The Great British Sewing Bee, so I already knew that I’d have to wind the bobbin by hand (you don’t want this stuff to stretch before it’s sewn!). What I wasn’t prepared for was how much elastic thread this project would use! I used up my entire 11 yard spool of Gutermann elastic thread (yes, it comes on 11 yard spools) and had to re-wind the bobbin 3 or 4 times, which I guess makes sense as you sew lines on the side back pieces 1/4″ apart. The end result was fabulous, though, and really provides a great deal of movement and adjustment, which was perfect for this project.

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Don’t worry, I tacked the seams down and clipped the threads!

 

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The fabric is a vibrant magenta brocade with a fire-breathing dragon motif on it. I love how the finished outfits turned out, but this fabric was both difficult and time-consuming to work with as it frayed horribly (in fact, I’m still finding threads all over the apartment!) and I had to use a press cloth any time I needed to iron a seam, as the polyester content meant direct contact with the iron would melt it. I fully lined both garments to both hide the unseemly fraying seams and add durability (I knew the girls would be moving around a lot in them, so I wanted the garments to be able to hold up).

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Post performance costume change (I did not make these dresses!)

The Starella Sisters have another performance planned next month for the holidays and they’ve asked me to be their official costume designer (!) so I’ll have another couple commissions in the works to share with you guys. Stay tuned for that!

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1940s · Finished! · Sew alongs · Vintage

Sew for Victory Apron!

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Feeling rather victorious

Just in the nick of time I’ve finished my project for Sew for Victory! For those not familiar, Sew for Victory is a non-competitive 1940s-themed sew-along hosted by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille where participants recreate a sewn item from the 1940s using authentic or reproduction patterns. There are some fabulous garments over in the Flickr pool that you should definitely check out!

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For my entry, I decided to I really wanted to make a reproduction 1940s apron after watching one of my favorite documentaries, Time Warp Wives (the series follows vintage-enthusiasts in Britain and is a much-watch for those interested in the vintage lifestyle). The apron was such a ubiquitous part of everyday life for women in the 1940s, and I really wanted to pay homage to that (plus, heart-shaped pockets!!!!).

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The pattern I used is this reproduction one by Wearing History. This was my first time using a Wearing History pattern, and I had a little bit of trouble with the directions (it probably partially was my own fault, as I’ve been sewing for so long that I tend to skim over instructions, which sometimes backfires). My apron is made from a reproduction 1930s fabric that I found locally at Fabric Depot. I used olive green bias tape to both finish the edges, as well as provide a contrast to the red, black, and green in the print. The method I used for bias binding (and there are several options included in the pattern) is to sew the bias binding right-sides together to the fabric, then open and press to the back, and stitch-in-the-ditch on the right side to secure all layers.

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With my 1944 Life Magazine!

By far, the hardest part for me was mitering the corners (I don’t quilt nor make napkins, so I don’t really use this technique). After some seam-ripping, I finally consulted the Googles, and found this really helpful tutorial on how to miter corners with bias tape.

While I loved the finished apron. there are definitely some things I would change if I were to make this again (which probably won’t be for awhile, as OMG! So much bias tape!), namely making the waist ties a little longer (they were a bit on the short side for me, although the yardage requirement for this pattern is definitely in keeping with fabric restrictions of the time).

1940s · Vintage · Vintage Saturday

Vintage Saturday: Church of Sinatra and Victory Rolls

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Reading a yearbook from 1940, aka Vintage Sunday School.

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Welcome to the weekend, readers! I had a pretty relaxing day of sewing, napping, and catching up on cleaning before heading over to Julie’s yesterday evening for February’s Church of Sinatra. With Valentine’s Day being this month, I decided to wear a 40s dress I just got that’s accessorized with a cute pink flower (and, yes, it came with the dress!).

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I also finally managed to successfully do Victory Rolls! They’re such a ubiquitous hairstyle for vintage gals that I tended to avoid them (plus, my hair is layered, so it’s difficult to keep it together when I go to roll it). If you’re interested in trying these out on your own hair, but don’t know how to get started, there are a ton of great hair tutorials on YouTube (this one in particular was especially helpful for me).

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Oh, and can we also take a moment to admire the fabulous 40s velvet pumps!? Definitely don’t wear these as often as I should!

Hope everyone else is having fabulous and relaxing weekends!

1940s · 1950s · Outfit · Vintage · Vintage Saturday

Vintage Saturday: Summer is here!

Happy Saturday, and Happy Summer, readers!

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It seems as if the heat has finally hit us here in the Pacific Northwest, with forecasts in the 80s and 90s predicted over the next couple of days. Of course, being pale (and Polish) this doesn’t always bode well with me, as I burn very easily. That being said, one must look fabulous is all kinds of weather, so I decided to bust out my reproduction high-waisted shorts I got from Stop Staring! (I must admit that I didn’t buy directly from them, but from a gal that was getting rid of these, so the price was *much* lower), as I love casual vintage summer looks, especially since I’ll be headed down to Portland today, and these will be super comfy for the long drive.

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I’ve paired these with a plaid shirt that ties in front (I definitely plan on taking a pattern off of this and making my own version in just plain white), and my new (to me) vintage red sunglasses that I picked up at a local antique store for like 10 bucks. Definitely a steal, considering that all of the vintage sunglasses I’m finding on Etsy are at least 50.

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As for the hairstyle, it’s one that I’ve been sporting a lot lately, a sort of 1940s-inspired side pony. My hair is getting really long, and I know that I will inevitably cut it at some point within the next month or so, as I always do. 😉

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Anyways, I’ll be cohosting a fabulous Breakfast at Tiffany’s tea party tomorrow with my lovely friend Kady. Really looking forward to wearing my cute 60s LBD, and the tiara I just bought, cuz, ya know, it was the only accessory I was missing from my wardrobe. 😉

And if you’re not a fan of the FB page, I’ve promised to hold a spectacular giveaway once I reach 100 followers here on the blog. As of right now, we’re at 98. So, motivation right there. 😉

Alright, hope everyone else has a fabulous weekend!

1940s · Hair · Vintage · Vintage Modeling

Vintage Hairstyling Workshop!

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Last night, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a vintage hairstyle workshop taught the lovely Kristen Behlings and hosted at AlexSandra’s Vintage Emporium in Portland. It was definitely worth the 2-hour drive from Western Washington, as Kristen really knows her stuff and just looks like she walked out of the 40s, I’m totally mesmerized by her vintage look.

The workshop was divided into two parts, the first part being curling . . .

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. . . and the second part styling.

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I don’t know what’s up with the expression on my face here, I wasn’t in pain . . .

I have to say that the workshop was particularily beneficial to me in learning what *not* to do. Which seems counter-intuitive (I mean, you go to a workshop to learn what to do, and I did learn some stuff that I should be doing with my hair), but I learned some stuff I should not be doing with my hair! Kristen is a big advocate of the sponge rollers, which I used to use, but had problems with as I toss and turn a lot during the night, and wake up with bedhead. I’m definitele sold on the idea of a hooded dryer now, and luckily AlexSandra had some for sale.

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I finally accomplished a Victory Roll (not without help, although my joke of the night was that I did my hair all by myself, when in reality, I probably did like one of the rolls), which I’ve never been able to do with my hair before. I *love* this look, and will definitely need to practice with my own hair some more.

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Oh, iPhone, why have you failed me!?

I also met some more fabulous Portland vintage gals, and after we got our hair did, headed downtown to the Hotel deLuxe for cocktails!

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Kady gettin’ her hair did

Of course, it was too late to drive back, so I stayed with my lovely friend, Kady, and we watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s this morning, as we are hosting a Breatkfast at Tiffany’s-themed tea party next month!!!! So excited about this, as I’m a huge Audrey fangirl. Kady also has an orange kitty named Lucy that looks surprisingly like the cat in Breakfast, so of course a pic was in order. 😉

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Oh! And I actually stopped by AlexSandra’s earlier that afternoon to try on a bunch of fabulous vintage clothing, as I’m going to be a model for her shop! I’m very excited about this, although I find it rather amusing that after pursuing an academic path (I got two Bachelor’s in 3 years), I’m now becoming a vintage model and singer (I also just started voice lessons). I sorta feel like a floozy Vaudeville performer, even though I’m so not . . .

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Of course, I must show you my fabulous purchase of the trip, a 1950s pink Swirl wrap dress. I kept seeing it on the mannequin as I was trying things on for AlexSandra, and finally asked her to take it down to I could try it on, as it was just too cute. Readers, I had no idea what a Swirl dress was up until this point (and you may not, either, so you can read more about them here), but then I did, and I couldn’t leave it there. I paid a pretty penny for it, but it was worth it, don’t ya think? 😉

1940s · Outfit · Vintage · Vintage Saturday

Vintage Saturday: Flying in Style

Departing a luxury vintage Pan Am plane. Ya know, just a typical Saturday for me.
Departing a luxury vintage Pan Am plane. Ya know, just a typical Saturday for me.

I spent a lovely afternoon today with my WWII peeps at the Historic Flight Foundation for their event, “The Art of the Flight Jacket.” I have to say that I am really loving this era, and I think in large part it’s because a lot of this stuff is all new to me, in addition to the fact that I now have an outlet to dress vintage. I mean, it’s nice to dress vintage about town, but having historic planes as a back-drop is way more fun. 😉

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After the presentation about flight jackets (which was heavily focused on WWII), there was a vintage fashion show (and I am aware of what a lucky duck I am, going to 2 vintage fashion shows in the same week!)

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And after that, we headed outstide to get some quick photos in this really neat luxury Pan Am DC-3 from the early 1950s. Luckily, I wore my late 50s/early 60s camel wool coat, because it was perfect for this.

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Anyways, I can’t wait to go back, as there are plans to do a photoshoot in this plane with vintage luggage, with yours truly possibly being a stewardess. I’ve always loved those little hats. 😉

1940s · Outfit · Vintage

A vintage outing in Portland

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I spent a lovely day in Portland dressed in 1940s vintage yesterday. The Ladies Tea Guild of Portland put on a great event at the Bomber Complex, which was originally a gas station that had a B-17 over it, but expanded into a restaurant, motel, and now museum. I carpooled with Captain Miller, the head of the Historic Aviation Guild, which is the WWII living history group I just joined.

Captain Miller and I in our shades
Captain Miller and I in our shades

First up was lunch at the Bomber. If you ever get a chance to go, I would definitely recommend it! It’s got a great vintage vibe, and a lot of the menu options are named after things in vintage aviation. One of the gals there brought some neat vintage magazines (including the obligatory Life) so much fun was had chatting over those.

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After lunch, it was off to a fabulous vintage fashion show hosted by AlexSandra at the Elks Lodge. Unfortunately, I only got a few pictures on my phone (there was too much fabulousness, I tell you!), but I felt the whole time that I had just stepped onto the set of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day!

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I was also fortunate enough to meet Kristen Behlings (who is the model in the above pic), who is an amazing vintage hairstylist and looks like she walked out of the 40s. Lucky me will be taking a class offered by her next month on how to do vintage hair, which I’m super excited about!

After the fashion show, we headed back to the Bomber for a private museum tour. They have some really neat stuff, including this WWII nurse’s uniform:

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And, after the museum tour, it was off to my friend Kady’s apartment complex, which was built in 1941.

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There are also gorgeous inner courtyards, so of course, photos were in order.

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As for the dress, I got it off Etsy recently for a different vintage event, but ended up wearing it as the swing dance dress I’m working on was just too tight (which annoys me, since I made a muslin mock-up first). Anyways, it was handmade in the 40s (no label, pinked seams) and I paired it with this super cute hat.

Kady and I are in the midst of planning the June Ladies Tea Guild event, which is going to be Breakfast at Tiffany’s-themed with little black dresses. Super excited about that!