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Thursday, April 28, 2016

· Chicago Cultural Center ·

I have a bit of an unusual post today- all of the elements of this outfit have been posted about previously, but I just wanted an excuse to take photos in this building! ;-)

Living in Chicago means easy access to fabulous photo locations- no need to settle for the standby driveway shots!  I tend to do my blog photos in batches, so for this day we were hauling around all the paraphernalia for this outfit, my 1930s rayon dress, and my late 1930s cotton dress.  The Chicago Cultural Center was conveniently located, has nice, clean, big restrooms for changing outfits, and.... is stunningly beautiful and worthy of a photoshoot in its own right. ;-)

I knew I really, *really* wanted to take photos here, but I also felt like it could stand to be the feature rather than my clothing, so I let the outfit take the backseat on this one.  The skirt you've seen here, and if you've been a long-time reader you might remember this blouse.  The cardigan is yet another example of my knitwear altering obsession

The hat is new, however!  It came to us in a collection from a member of a small historical society in Iowa.  She noticed my family while they were in Des Moines for a conference and wondered if we would be interested in some vintage hats. (ha! would we?? you bet!)  Her historical society was too small and overflowing to be able to display or store all the hats they had collected so she ended up mailing them to us!

There were so many fun hats in the mix and most of them were florals, which our own collection is surprisingly lacking.  This hat is one of my very favorites and I love how it just happened to perfectly match my new skirt. :-)

Estate sale necklace!  Our jewelry collection has exploded since frequenting estate sales so now we're desperately trying to keep up with storage options!

I know.  I think it's a great problem to have, too. ;-)

The Cultural Center was constructed in 1897 as the city's first central library and the main entrance and staircase still bear witness to that in the mosaic tributes to classic authors.

The Cultural Center is a truly stunning building (and free!) just across from Millenium Park and it's even more beautiful in person.  The mosaics glitter in the light and the magnificently stunning Tiffany dome (not pictured in this post) is breathtaking.  Sigh.  Love it!!

· Photos by Kathryn! ·

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

· Art Deco Vibes ·

This post has been long coming, but I think it was well worth the wait! (tough luck if you don't agree, I guess!) I finished the dress over a year ago, but I since I adore the 1930s and Art Deco so much, I knew I needed to make sure the photoshoot did justice to my passion for both. :-)  Art Deco buildings are not as uncommon in my rural area as I initially thought, but the timing just never worked out to get together for photos with Kathryn.  Also, last spring I was in the process of growing my hair out so I could wear it up all summer and I really had my heart set on having a shorter 'do to debut this dress. ;-)

Well, it all worked out wonderfully- I have shorter hair this spring AND I currently live in Chicago and, wouldn't you know, fabulous Art Deco buildings are plentiful here!  My mom and I took an "Art Deco Skyscrapers" architectural tour a few days before this photoshoot and that's how we came across this marvelous location.  The Carbon & Carbide building has been my very, very favorite building since I moved here, but I have to say... the One LaSalle Street Building is quite amazing in its own right!

I can't recommend the tour enough, and it gave me the guts to just walk into all these cool buildings that I've only admired from the outside!  Most are even more stunning in the lobbies (be sure to check out elevators in Art Deco buildings- they are stunning!) and most buildings allow photographs.  When we were wandering about on the day of the photoshoot, we also had several very friendly and informative security guards who were more than happy to tell us more about the buildings!  Score!  I could listen to architectural information all day! :-)

OK, enough of architecture geeking! (although some of you have to be fellow Art Deco enthusiasts, right? give me a shout if you are and share your favorite building!)  On to the reason you most likely are at my blog... the dress!

This rayon print has been in the stash for a while and I've been selfishly earmarking it for years.  I *finally* figured out a perfect dress design that would make me happy!  McCalls came out with a pattern in their "Archive Collection" (7053) that looked really promising- but I'm super wary of every pattern in the Archive Collection.  They're frequently kind of random and questionably authentic, but I've really loved the 6993 skirt (I used it on this 1930s dress last year) and I felt like view A from this blouse pattern had enough 30s influence to make me happy with the outcome.

I do love the finished result, although I'd caution anyone who attempts the pattern- it really didn't look like this fresh out of the envelope!  I fitted the whole bodice quite a lot more than the original and I ended up with much more of a typical kimono sleeve than the almost-dolman sleeve that shows up in the sample garment.

And just look how huge that front drape is!  I love how dramatic the 1930s were.

I originally planned to line this portion so that I wouldn't have to worry about the wrong side showing, but then I felt that it was getting too bulky and I was afraid I might have warping issues.  So single layer it is!  And I think it works quite smashingly after all. :-)

See?? Awesome elevator lobby!
You're forgiven if you're so busy focusing on the architectural details that you don't even notice my dress.

Over the past 2-3 years, I've become more and more obsessed with longer hemlines and this dress is one of my longest 1930s dresses.  I love it!  It feels so elegant, and it really helps with the lengthening illusion so prevalent in the mid 30s.

I made the skirt of the dress from a very basic 6-panel trumpet-ish skirt after seeing lots of similar examples in old catalog pages.  I think I used some old 1980s pattern?  Can't quite remember....

I'm not quite convinced that this sleeve style is a very 30s design... but the overall shape is great and my fabric is pretty forgiving. ;-)

I did love the angled bodice seaming and even if it's not super prominent due to my busy fabric... I love knowing it's there anyway. ;-)  I sewed this seam using my current-favorite lapped seam method.  Gotta love period techniques that simplify things greatly!

OK, one last shot- can you believe this building??!?!  Sooooo cool.  Opulent Art Deco gives me warm fuzzies. ;-)

As always, thanks for stopping by! (and humoring my ramblings!)

· Photos by Kathryn! ·

Thursday, April 14, 2016

· Venturing into the late 1930s ·

Oh goodness.  I hate coming up with post titles.  How can such a simple thing be so difficult?  Consequently... here we are with yet another un-inspired title.  Let's just say that it's a good thing I have photos- no one would click on my posts without other inducements.  Maybe I should take a page out of BuzzFeed's book.

On the other hand, this dress was such a delightful project to work on!  Sewing garments is so much simpler than inventing post titles.

This dress is the result of my collaboration with Penny Rose Fabrics and you can read my guest post with my inspiration for this dress on their blog today!

I've liked the looks of Simplicity 8050 since it was first released, and this seemed like a great opportunity to use it!  I raised the neckline a fair bit and ended up shortening the sleeves by about 2" so they'd be a more flattering length- I liked them on the cover, but either my arm length or my fabric rendered them rather awkward looking....

Also, since this is a late 1930s dress, shoulder pads were a must!  My little sloping shoulders definitely need a bit of help to look proportional. ;-)  It's kind of funny what a difference just a bit will do to the overall look, though! (yay for not looking dumpy anymore!)

A huge thank you goes to my mom for her help in fitting this!  I truly avoid set-in sleeves because of fitting issues, but she helped me through the rough bits!  I took a hint from this video and raised the bottom of the bodice armhole by 5/8" and bottom of the sleeve armhole by 1" to add range of motion.  It worked well and I'll definitely keep using that method. :-)

"Woohoo! Let's pick an extremely acute angle to accent with ric-rac! That would be brilliant and so fun!"

Sometimes I truly do wonder if I am conspiring for my own ruin when I come up with grand ideas.  It's a good thing I love a challenge! (and it's a good thing it worked so well. that's all that really matters. ;-))

I used a lapped seam method to attach the princess seam/waistline seam since the acute angle rendered that a highly-historically-probable method of construction.  Aaaand, since there was ric-rac application involved as well, I jumped on the chance. ;-)  Sure-fire way to make sure the trim ends up exactly where I want it?  Sign me up!

Seamed stockings!!  Squee!  I know- I'm long overdue for getting these.... but now I no longer need to be ashamed of the backs of my legs in pre-1940s attire. ;-)

As an aside, there's a great article on seamed stockings on Tuppence Ha'penny's blog here.

I went through the process of writing about how I'm a bit conflicted with how off-center this method made my buttons and how I wasn't sure how to fix it.... but then apparently that's just what I needed to process the fact that I need to redo those loops to be the more "C" shaped loops.  I think.  That would end up bringing in the buttons closer to the true center.

Anyone have any advice?  I'm thinking the only issue I might run into would be gaping between the buttons- but would that really be a problem if it isn't already?

These buttons were a wonderfully timely find at an estate sale just a few days before I needed them!  We, ahem, may not *technically* need more buttons, but when there are matching vintage sets, how can you walk away?  There were 10 total in this set so I felt a little bad using only 8 of them, but I'm sure I'll find a use for the others. :-)

This purse is part of our growing hoard of vintage purses. ;-)  This would be one thing we've found in spades on our estate saling adventures!  This is a black "corde" style, frequently seen throughout the mid-20th century.

This is what I affectionately refer to as my Quirky Nurse hat.  It's just so ridiculously 30s!  I picked it up at an antique mall last spring- it was a very serendipitous trip that resulted in 2 1940s hats and this 1930s hat!  I rarely, rarely find hats earlier than the 1950s but somehow happened upon 3 hats at once!  Hooray!!

These gloves.  I just love them so much.

I used to think I had very average hands but I have more trouble finding gloves than I ever expected (apparently I have long fingers? who knew?), so my collection of gloves that are "passable" is rather smaller than I'd like.  My collection of gloves that are "comfortable" is only 1-2 pairs.  These are a nigh-perfect fit, and I couldn't be more thrilled that they just so happen to be the kid leather, amazing cutouts, gauntlet length pair. :-)

· Photos- the inimitable and amenable Kathryn! ·

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Estate Sale Finds · Glassware

When I was home for Easter weekend, my mom and I were able to take advantage of several different estate sales/thrift stores.  Many goodies ensued!  And basically, I just realized yet again how much I love old stuff.  It's kind of a weird thing to enjoy when you think about it, but I'm glad there are so many others like me in the world and that we now have the internet to feel connected in our love of old. ;-)

It rekindled the desire to share this post- it's been floating around in the drafts folder for nigh onto a year, and it's high time it finally saw the light of day!

I have a few different collections that I purposefully keep an eye open for (luggage, globes, cake plates, attractive books...) and- glassware!

I've admired pink depression glass for years, and it's always been a secret desire of mine to have a set.  I must admit that its current extreme popularity in the antiques community has made my pocketbook reluctant to comply with my desires, so I've been on a mission to bide my time and wait for super great deals.

Last spring, I came across 2 cups at an antique mall severely discounted due to their lack of matching saucers.  I realized how dumb that idea was after bringing them home.  The chance of finding the saucers for sale separately is like finding a needle in a haystack.  There are SO. MANY. styles of depression glass!  A few weeks later, our town was having town-wide garage sales; we never go, but with our new-found love of estate-saling, I thought it might be fun!  A crunched time schedule and threatening rain meant that we only hit 5 or so sales, but as it would happen.... one of them had pink depression glass!  The prices were amazing.  I picked up 3 cups and saucers, a platter, and.... they had 2 cups and 4 saucers in the same pattern I had at home!  That means there were exactly as many loner saucers as I was in need of!  Amazing!!

 I'm beyond thrilled with how the whole situation worked out, but I have learned my lesson not to randomly add loners to my collection without *very* good reasons. ;-)

I currently have "Queen Mary", ''Coronation", and "Old Cafe" in my collection.  I love the idea of a slightly mismatched set, but I'm hoping to contain my collection to just these 3 styles.  The hope is that this measure will keep my collection to a managable level. ;-)  One thing about estate-saling is that it exposes and encourages the dark side of hoarding, so I'm trying to only aquire (semi)wisely. ;-)

I suspect that these goblets aren't originals, but nevertheless, we couldn't really resist sipping out of pink goblets. ;-)

My very favorite style of china has long been china in the Royal Copenhagen design.  As far as I can discern, the design originated as "Blue Fluted" in the late 1700s with the, well, Royal Copenhagen manufactury.  The style has been picked up by several other china manufacturers, so there are lots of versions of it with slightly different variations!

I stumbled across a set of 7 cups and saucers and a creamer and sugar set last May in an antique store in Texas, so I am now commited to the Myott "Finlandia" style.  This is another set that I'm going to add to slowly and I'm open to getting less than a complete set.  I think it's a great set for mixing-and-matching with other blue-and-white or plain white china pieces. :-)

I am just so thrilled to finally be starting the 2 glassware collections I've admired so long, and since part of the enjoyment of the process is the thrill of the hunt, I'm excited about slowly adding in pieces!

Do you have any glass/china collections that you're always on the look-out for?  Have you ever come across fabulous deals you just couldn't pass up? (Ha! Who am I kidding?? We've all done that before.... ;-))


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