Saturday, 31 July 2010

Jam Packed Two Days


Yesterday I caught the train to Melbourne for a day of fashion and good food. First was a hot chocolate with melted peanut butter from San Churro (oh my gosh, so delicious!) then I met my workmate Alice at the State Library of Victoria to see the 'til you drop! exhibit. Unfortunately I couldn't take photos inside, but there some great things on display - like old advertisements, photos and shopping paraphenalia, and also an advertisement from the 1920s for raincoats, that used an unfortunate word to describe the colour brown (think a word beginning with 'N' that is a racial slur - how very PC). Photos curtesy of the SLV's website:

Next was the Australian Made exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria - there were about 15 (?) dresses on display from the 1850s to 1950s - and some were absolutely amazing (and some had absolutely impossible waistlines!) Again, no photos, so here are some from the NGV's website:

Then we dined at a little cafe, where I ate the most amazing Thai chicken salad, then it was off to Chelsea to see Nicole Jenkins (of Circa Vintage) talk about 1940s and 1950s fashion. The talk was great, and Alice and I both bought Nicole's book 'Love Vintage'. I even had my photo taken for the local paper with Nicole, seeing as I was wearing my 1950s apricot coloured dress.

Then we hustled back into the city and out to Circa Vintage for some shopping - we were both itching to buy something, but I ended up just getting some Lindy Charm School setting lotion, and Alice and I had a great chat with both Nicole and the SA (I'm sorry - I can't remember her name!) about fashion and hairstyling. I caught the train home, watched The Sound of Music, then flopped into bed!


Today I had an incredible urge to shop! I blame it on the entire day of vintage goodness from the day before. And eBay and etsy were failing me, so I figured I'd go op-shopping before my 1pm 'Learn to Crochet' class. I'm sure I'm not the only one that finds op-shopping hit and miss, but today was definitely a 'hit' day!

I bought:
- a 1950s wool wiggle dress (in a size W - thanks Nicole Jenkins for explaining this form of sizing. W stands for Woman! There was then SW (small woman), SSW and XSSW, then XW (large woman), XXW and OS (outsize). $55 from the Mill Markets
- a 1960s red lightweight coat, $12 from Vinnies
- nude underslip, $2 from Vinnies
- a silk scarf in shades of red/pink, $2 from Vinnies
- woven handbag, $5 from the Salvos
- 1950s pink wool bed jacket, $25 from the Mill Markets
- The Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, $18 from the Mill Markets
- a record of greatest hits from the 1940s, $1 from the Salvos
- a pair of nude t-bar heels, $8 from Vinnies

(Apologies, today is a no-makeup day... my face needs a rest. FYI - hair is fallen out pincurls, using Lindy Charm School setting lotion, but I need to take smaller sections next time.)

I also stopped off at Kenny's Antiques on Pako, and noticed they have some AMAZING 1930s velvet gowns in there - I'm not sure whose closet they've raided, but there are some absolute gems in there. If anyone is interested, I saw a red floorlength velvet bias cut gown with dramatic short sleeves, and a black bias cut velvet gown with double breasted butterfly buttons, both for only $110 each (both approx a size small). Get them while you can! They also have a 1950s dress coat, with a massive collar and full skirt for $120, but it needs new buttons. I tried it on and could nowhere near do it up - so I'm guessing it's a size small too. There was a lot of in-head arguing going on there - trying to convince myself that I shouldn't buy a coat that I could never do up!

Next, I had lunch at a little Chinese cafe called J.J Express on Moorabool St, discovering that they actually have real Chinese food on the menu! I ordered 鱼香肉丝 (fish flavoured shredded pork) and it was exactly how I remembered it being in Beijing. I also ordered in Chinese, and freaked out the waitress somewhat! I love doing that... Apologies for the iPhone photo.

And finally, I attended a 'Learn to Crochet' class at Twisted Threads on Ryrie Street. For the first hour, I honestly thought I was the dumbest person there, because I simply couldn't get my head around it. But I had a lightbulb moment in the second hour, and now I'm going great guns. I'm just practicing right now, as I need to buy a smaller sized hook to account for my loose tension. Look how much I've done already!

Now I'm off to watch the Cats vs. Swans game on telly, while wearing my new bed jacket (and J's comfy, massive trackies) and practice my crocheting! Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A new dress!

I was bored last night, so I started sewing a new dress (a 1950s "jumper" (read: pinafore) and blouse pattern that I found at the Mill Markets for $8). I only made the pinafore because I didn't want the blouse to be in matching fabric (all I had lying around, unfortunately). Last night I nearly finished it, apart from the hem, which is what I did tonight! Voila!

I also had a ripper hair day today - with my first truly successful triple victory roll style! (Not that you can tell in the pics - my hair just looks like a black hole in photos). I traveled to Melbourne for work today, and discovered something interesting (but not surprising) - I am an ISTJ! What is ISTJ, you may ask? It's one of the Myers-Briggs personality types. ISTJs like organising and thinking things through... me down to a T.

Tomorrow I'm off to Melbourne again, but this time for fun. I'm seeing the 'til you drop shopping exhibit at the State Library of Victoria, then off to the Australian Made: 100 Years of Fashion exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria, and then to hear Nicole Jenkins' talk at the Chelsea Library on 1940s and 1950s fashion! Stay tuned, I'm taking my camera!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

More books

I have been so productive today - I awoke at 6am when J went to work (yes, he works six days (56 hrs) a week) at the Shell plant in Geelong. Money is good, and the only other good thing is I have the day all to myself for housework and study! Today I managed to finish all the housework by 9am though, and I'm already two weeks ahead in my studies, so I am now a lady of leisure for the remainder of the day.

I watched a movie from 1945 called The Picture of Dorian Gray which was really great (and quite a dark movie too for the time), and now I'm watching Inglorious Basterds and playing with my work's iPad (which I'm typing on right now). I guess that's one of the joys of working in web development - lots of new gadgets to play with!

Anyway, while I was cleaning today, I discovered that I still had some books from work that I hadn't shared with you yet. So here they are.

50/60/70 Iconic Australian Houses

This book focuses on famous Aussie houses from the 50s through to the 70s. I'm not big into architecture - I kinda like what goes inside more. So this book didn't interest me as much.

The Australian Dream: Design of the Fifties

This is my favourite book so far - it covers most aspects of life in the 1950s (design, advertising, photography, dress, ,artchitecture, gardening and crafts). There are some fabulous photos in this book - I love the hats! I'm reading the gardening section at the moment, as I'm getting stuck into planning our new garden. (Right now, we're on a bare block apart from my vegie patch - we're doing a landscape garden after we re-weatherboard the house and put up the carport).

And if you are interested, here is my review of the iPad. Sure, it's novel and cool, and viewing webpages is great, but it is lacking a few things - a USB port, SD memory slot and the ability to dock with any computer to transfer data. I don't think I can justify buying an iPad myself, because I already have an iPhone and a laptop (actually, I also have two iPods too, but I digress) and the iPad doesn't do anything extra that those two things don't already do. I personally am waiting for an android tablet, or perhaps the HP tablet, as I am after a tablet that will make my laptop obsolete (as mine is on it's last legs).

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Vote for Twila Jean!

One of my favourite blogs that I follow - The Mysterious Life of the Metropolitan Housewife - authored by Twila Jean, needs your vote! Twila has entered the Mad Men Casting Call, and is in the running to win a walk-on role in the TV series Mad Men (seriously - who wouldn't love that!)

You can vote for her HERE. I just love the photo she's chosen to submit - that looks like my ideal kitchen (I particularly love the wall colour - that's the colour I want to paint my FC!)

I have a decent post coming up soon (about some more mid century interior books) - I just need to take the accompanying photos. Tonight, I promise! And also, tales of sewing failures! Stay tuned...

Friday, 23 July 2010

STOP PRESS: My hair holds a curl!

Well, the parcels have been coming in thick and fast lately. Here's the recent arrival - a 1940s dress I bought on eBay. I love the lapels (is that the right term?) in the tan and red - such a lovely accent on the dress.I needed to wear a slip underneath, plus thick stockings because it is quite cold here at the moment.

And see my new handbag? $10 from the Mill Markets. Real leather too! I also purchased a stained 1940s blouse from the same seller for US$10, but I've already soaked it and removed all the stains. Should I be worried at the colour of the water from the soaking? I'm surprised a black and nude coloured top could produce such rusty red water.

And see my hair? It's curled! And guess what? It has stayed that way for days! Everyone bow down to the new arrival... the hot sticks! I can't believe how well they worked. I think next time I will take bigger chunks of hair for each hot stick, because the curls came out a little tighter than I'd like. But hey, it's all a learning process! I'm just so relieved that I have found a method that actually works for my hair.

(Sorry, I just realised that trying to show black curled hair against a black dress isn't great - next time I curl my hair I shall wear something a bit brighter than black!)

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Vintage books

One of the joys of working in a library is seeing all the new books coming in for cataloguing. We're lucky to have a special collections library here, and they have chosen to specialise in two areas: vintage cookbooks and childrens books.

Today I spotted something fantastically 1950s in a cookbook titled 'Davis Dainty Dishes' from 1954. I'm not sure what the food pictured is meant to be, but I don't think it is any of the three recipes on the same page. It certainly does look like a dainty dish, but I don't think I'd want to taste it.

We also have some cool picture books coming in, dating from the 1930s to 1950s. 'Kitty Cats and Puppy Dogs' dates from 1938, and looking at the second picture, some of the kitty cats are pure evil! That would certainly have frightened me as a child. (Apologies for the poor picture quality - they're taken using my iPhone.)

Monday, 19 July 2010

Camperdown Cruise Rockabilly Weekend & Custom Car Show!

While shopping at the Mill Markets over the weekend, I spotted a pretty pink and blue flyer advertising the 2010 Camperdown Cruise. For those of you who don't know, Camperdown is a small country town past Colac in Victoria... which happens to be not so far away from us.

It sounds like the perfect weekend. Why, you ask?

♥ It's on the same weekend as my birthday.

♥ They're holding a "1950s flea market" - I'm hoping for clothing and housewares!

♥ There are two dance nights with rockabilly and 1950s bands playing

♥ It can be the FC's first outing (providing it's roadworthy by then... God help it, it should be!)

So I've locked it into our calendars, and have booked accommodation in the only place I could find still available - a caravan park just outside Camperdown. We've got a cabin that sleeps six, so I'm putting the word out to our friends who might be interested for a weekend away filled with booze and cars (and really, what boy could say no to that?)

For more details, you can visit the Camperdown Cruise website.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Foam rollers / Macadamia Honey Pie (pic heavy)

So, people have suggested that while my perm was a failure, it might help my hair hold curls for longer, so I'm trying foam curlers.

Really, I'm trying all methods - in the last few weeks I've purchased foam bendy rollers, sectioning clips (for finger waves), pincurl clips, and ordinary foam rollers. Add this to the hot rollers, curling iron and straightener I already own. I really am inundated with hairstyling tools. There is one thing else I'd like to try - hot sticks... and I just bought a set on eBay for $25. But I digress.

I washed my hair (it was due for one anyway), and applied setting lotion. Actually, I don't think it is really setting lotion... the only thing I could find at my local Priceline was something called "Sculpture Gel Spray" (Sculpture being the brand) - it looks quite plain and nana-ish if I may say so, and the uses on the back fit in with how I want to use it... Wrapped in a kerchief, I left them in overnight. Here are the results!

Dress - 1940s from etsy
Brooch - Forever 21
Cardigan - Target
Belt and stockings - eBay
Heels - Joanne Mercer
Pearl earrings - a present from J
Vintage Omega watch - gift from grandparents

Verdict? Just about entirely fallen out after 3 hours. Back to the drawing board. I might try partially drying the curls with the hairdryer as soon as I put them in - will that make a difference?


The other day (when I could not eat food thanks to the dentist trip) Mum gave me two old issues of Super Food Ideas magazine. And I spotted something I'd always wanted to try making - pecan pie. Except it wasn't really pecan pie, but macadamia honey pie. Wonderful, as macadamias are my favourite nut, and I just love honey. It turned out absolutely delicious, and just perfect with icecream. I'm going to make my parents a pie with the leftover macadamias.

In other news:

♥ My Kiss Me Deadly Vargas girdle dress arrived, and it is wonderful - the fault that caused them to be sold as seconds isn't even noticeable! (Small pieces of elastic are protruding from the lace area around the bust - I spotted one tiny piece and promptly stitched it back in - problem solved). ETA: It turns out the Vargas girdle dress was very popular ;)

♥ A 1950s dress pattern arrived for me too - and, don't faint people, it's complete! It's my first printed pattern too - I don't know if that makes it easier or harder to work with (my guess: easier). I shall hunt for suitable fabric, and start making it in my sewing class once I finish the current dress.

♥ The FC is at the mechanic for perhaps the final time (wait... have I already said this?) I'm currently bidding on a fox tail on eBay to hang from the aerial. I would action (the word "action" is taken from the FF Dictionary of Excellence) my brother to find a worthy fox again, but the last time he did this, some critters ran off with my tail while it was hanging from a fence drying. I also bought custom number plates from VicRoads - "RACH-59" in blue with white writing, and they arrived today (so much for the 14 day waiting period - it was literally 3 days!). Not cheap at $500, but worth it, providing I a) keep this car, or b) always buy 1959 model cars in the future!

♥ I bought a dress to wear to the Gangsters Ball in September. Approved by J, I bought a 1950s black cocktail dress from etsy. I really wanted to wear a 1950s teen-style prom dress, but I think J prefers me to look like a sexy 1950s housewife, and not a cutesy 1950s teenager. It's a pity the full-length shot is blurry, but don't worry, I'll post a picture as soon as it arrives!

And in more news, Mum and I went shopping today to celebrate my results for last semester (a distinction on the exam I was sure I'd failed, giving me two credit averages for my subjects). We traipsed all over the town, but my real destination was the Mill Markets. I bought a vintage navy leather bag and a 1950s pinafore dress and blouse pattern, and the apron I bought from Spotlight of all places. I really wanted a vintage one, but the aprons for sale at the Mill Markets weren't that great.


Thursday, 15 July 2010

PERM: Before and After

DISCLAIMER: This post was written in two parts, so don't be confused by the conflicting grammar and tenses!

Ladies (and gents), I am taking the plunge and getting a perm. Today at 8:30am! I know... it's a scary decision, and one that I have taken perhaps a little too lightly. I've always been a little blasé about my hair, which would explain why it's been dyed all colours of the rainbow, and hacked and chopped on a regular basis.

But a perm... that's different. One wrong move and I could end up in the 1980s instead of the 1950s. I could have frazzled hair that refuses to cooperate. It's really a case of "you always want what you don't have."

The problem with my current hair is that it is in too good a condition for vintage styling. Yes, having shiny, healthy hair (with no silicones used either, by the way) may look nice, but it doesn't allow me to recreate the styles I want, as curls just drop out within hours. So I figure some damage might help me along!

And who cares... it's only hair! It grows back! So without further ado... here is a before shot:

And, drum roll please... the after shot! (Please excuse the sad face - I'm still in pain from my dentist trip. Wearing a 1960s nightie, opshop find for $5)

Am I happy with it? No, not really... you can't tell I've had a perm (except for the horrible chemical smell which lingers). You can see the waves when my hair is wet, but they just drop on out when dry. I haven't tried putting curlers in my hair yet, but I shall soon... I've been going to the gym in the mornings before work again, and of course that hinders my ability to style my hair! I might try putting pincurls in, then covering with a scarf - they might endure my workouts!

Now, if you're going to suggest I go back and complain... save your breath. I'm one of those people that cannot complain. Ever. I can rarely bring myself to return something faulty, and I'm usually feeling very sick with nerves when I do. So going back and complaining is something I could never do. I'll just take it as a loss, because, really, nothing ventured is nothing gained.

Here are some scarves I bought on the weekend at the Belmont Market - I bought five for $10, and I'm happy. Except with Blogger, because that picture is meant to be landscape, but it continually imports it as portrait. No idea why.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

I've gotta stop buying dresses...

Howdy folks. I've had a quiet weekend and start of the week so far. Yes, I had my perm done... and there is a post coming up soon - but in a word, fail! My hair is so ridiculous that the perm has just about entirely dropped out.

Back to the exciting news. Yesterday I purchased two gorgeous 1940s items on eBay (while waiting to go in for my dental appointment! I'm a sook at the dentist, so I was sedated. I thought that meant being knocked out completely, but it just relaxed and numbed me so I didn't feel anything - but I was awake the whole time. Now recovering today with a very sore mouth). Aaaaanyway, I bought these two items from one very lovely 1940s-obsessed seller:

The blouse has a couple of stains on the yoke, which I will attempt to remove with Nappysan (the seller has never tried soaking it before), but it was only US$10 so I thought why the heck not! The dress was a bit more expensive, at US$55, but I had some funds sitting in my PayPal account, so all up I only spent $50 off my credit card. I love the red and tan detail on the dress, which is surprisingly similar to one of the vintage patterns heading my way from the US.

On Monday I attended my first sewing class, and it was great fun! I did feel a little self-conscious though, because two of the four students are fairly accomplished sewers, and I didn't want to be seen doing anything incorrectly. I have learnt a fair bit already. I'm making another dress using the 1950s pattern I have, in red fine gingham this time. Will keep you updated on my progress.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Aaaaand... more patterns

I can't help myself. I bought two more vintage patterns online. This time from EvaDress. I blame this on the movie I'm watching right now as I type this... The Sound of Music. As soon as Maria mentioned to Captain Von Trapp that she knew how to sew her own clothes (you know, right at the beginning where the Captain is really rude?), I thought to myself "yes! I should sew another dress". Never mind I already have a few patterns heading my way already - that's a mere detail.

Now, if I may, I'd like to share a few of my favourite images from the movie. I actually never saw The Sound of Music until I was living in China - that was 2007, and I was 23 years old! Somehow I managed to live out my childhood and teen years never watching it on television. I blame my parents for that!

I'd best run... my laptop is warning me it has 3% battery power left! Tune in tomorrow for my perm post! Yes, I'm getting a perm! Argh.....

Thursday, 8 July 2010

There's a War On! and more news

No, there isn't really... that's just the name of the new exhibit featured in the gallery space of Deakin University's Alfred Deakin Prime Ministerial Library.

There's a War On! World War II at home is a travelling exhibition from Museums and Galleries NSW. There's a War On! includes memorabilia, photographs and video footage that reflect the stories of everyday Australians living through the extraordinary time that was World War II.

I luckily work in the building at the main campus Library, so I ducked down while my computer updated Adobe Premiere Elements 8.0 (the most painful program in existence). Here's some snaps:

I love these seats - printed with 1940s recruitment ads! You can sit on these while watching a little documentary about what life was like during WW2.

The wedding dress! The waist in the dress is so small that it couldn't be done up on the mannequin. It's a good 3-4 inches too small...

The little book that accompanies the dress - the owner lent the dress and/or the veil to over 50 brides during the 1940s, and she wrote down the details of every one. Click on the image to see it in full size.

I'd really like to know how they made old mens suits into ladies skirt suits! It seems like it'd be so much work. The catch phrase 'Renovation helps the nation' is great too.

And finally, a housewife hitting (what I can only imagine is) a Japanese troop in the head with cans of food. Priceless.

It is a relatively small exhibit, so probably not worthwhile driving all the way from Melbourne purely for this - but if you're in the region, then do swing by and check it out! Details are available here.


Other little tidbits:
- my Indian sweater arrived from eBay, and it's amazing
- I'm getting my hair permed on Saturday at 8:30am... 50% scared/50% excited (loose curls, not 80s frizz hopefully)
- that's about it for the exciting stuff, really...