Day Trip to Fabric Heaven!

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Last year, my friend Mary and I planned to go on an indulgent, fabric-lovers day trip to Birmingham to visit the famous Rag Market and The Fancy Silk Store…. and it didn’t happen, for various reasons.

This year – IT DID!!!  Last weekend, we boarded the train with our sewing plans and yardage requirements and off we went!

Seriously, if you’ve never visited the Fancy Silk Store and you have even the slightest inkling of a Fabric Addiction, I urge you to go.  It is literally floor-to-cieling stacked with fabrics, on every floor!

Ooh, SO hard to resist going crazy and doubling my fabric stash in an afternoon!  But, I had a budget, I had specific projects in mind, and I DID manage to be fairly restrained.  I swooned over the batiks though, and first up was this soft, lightweight beauty, destined (I hope) to become the Kate & Rose Giselle Dressgreen&yellowbatikBut I couldn’t stop there…. this one has a bit more body and I think will make a nice strappy sundress.  (Possibly with shirring, if I’m feeling ambitious?)purplebatikThen over the road in the Rag Market, while M. was off buying gorgeous curtaining for her new pad, I spotted this fabulous, 70s-wallpaper-print pin cord.  Aha!  The very thing I’ve been waiting for to make this vintage 70s overdress for the winter.  See? – it’s all part of the plan, honest…cordAll in all it was a Grand Day Out and I think we may have to make this into an annual pilgramage.  And did I stay within my budget?  Weeellll… so hard to be restrained, plus y’know the Giselle dress requires elastic, so I had to buy a metre which put me over budget by….stashtastic…25p!

Wishing you all a Fabric-tastic Friday 🙂

 

Whoo-Hoo! Retrotastic Skater Dress!

imainshotYay, I MADE A DRESS!!  Not only that, I made a dress that fits and that I LOVE! This, my friends, is my very first attempt at the Lady Skater dress (by KitschyCoo patterns).  I’m sure this pattern needs no introduction as folk everywhere on the blogosphere have made it, raved about it, and rated it one of the easiest sews there is.

I’ve been wanting to have a go at this pattern for ages, especially after reading so many reports of how simple it is to fit, with no FBA needed!  My original idea was to use this fabulous 70s-inspired jersey to make a ‘wearable muslin’ version, as it was such a bargain price (ordered online from The Textile Centre) that I could live with it turning out a disaster.  funkyfabricBut when it arrived it was so soft and drapey and so very funky, that I knew I had to give it my best shot!  So I cut up a pair of old pyjama bottoms and a holey T-shirt, and made a muslin of just the bodice with cap sleeves and about 3″ of skirt.  You want to see it, don’t you??skatermuslinYes, I really did walk around my house in this…

I graded the pattern from a size 6 in the upper bodice out to an 8 at the waist.  Even at this stage, I could tell that the fit was good.  And the rumours were true – no FBA!  As you can see from the muslin, what I did do was to shorten the bodice by 2″.  I also did a sway back adjustment of 1″, following the brilliant instructions provided on the KitschyCoo website.  Honestly, this is the clearest explanation of how to do this adjustment I’ve ever found, and it turns out it’s really simple.  An inch may not sound like much, but this one really makes a difference.  How nice to have an even hemline for once!isideshotThe waistline still ended up a little wonky, but this may be to do with a certain Sewing Issue I had.  The pattern calls for clear elastic here to stablise the seam: Auntie Janis, however (my ancient Singer sewing machine), refused to co-operate with this.  Already unhappy about being forced to sew a fabric she was not designed for, the elastic got ripped out twice before I gave up and sewed it in by hand instead.  It didn’t really work so well, and it feels a bit weird on the inside, but luckily looks OK on the outside.  Speaking of outside…skirtyshotSo the only major alteration I did was to re-draft the neckline.  I do find the necklines on many patterns are just too plunging for me; showing off that little bow in the middle of your bra is never my idea of a Good Look.  I suspect I ought really to take a bit out of the upper bodice above the high bust line, but then you have to start messing about with armscye adjustments and y’know, I’m just TOO LAZY…  Besides, I liked the fit on the bodice.  So I just raised the neckline front and back, taking 4½” out of both all round (and the same out of the neckband), and I’m very pleased with the way it’s turned out.cardiflashshotIn fact, I’m TOTALLY CHUFFED with the way the whole dress has turned out!  Ooh, this is a comfy, funky, incredibly wearable dress!  I particularly love the sleeves, with their little cuffs…isleeveand the swishy skirt!iskirtshotprint matching? – That’s for Proper Dressmakers!

This dress has definitely given my sewing confidence a much-needed boost after my Year of Total Sewing Fail.  I can see myself making this pattern up again and again.  In fact I’ve already ordered some purple ponte to make a second one!  (But shhh, don’t tell Auntie J….nothing to see here…)idonttellAJWishing you all a funky retrotastic week! 🙂

A vintage pop-up shop

Shopfront1I’ve talked about vintage vinyl, vintage fabrics, vintage wallpaper, and all things vintage on this blog, so I guess it will come as no surprise that my tiny house is rather PACKED with all these treasures, and sometimes you just have to let things go.  What better way than to open your own, one-day-only PopUp shop?!  This week there’s lots happening in my town, with the annual show, a walking festival, and several local artists opening their studios for the county wide H.Art event (including my neighbours, details of their work here), so today I threw open the front door, put up the psychedelic bunting, and stopped the traffic with my home-made neon day-glo sign.signIt is actually much, MUCH brighter than it looks in this picture!  And the traffic did quite literally slow down outside my house to get a better look.  Maybe it was the sign, maybe it was the electric blue 1970s platforms in the window, we’ll never know…ShopWindowDespite waking up to a downpour, much to my relief things did dry out in time for my grand opening at 10.30.  As well as the vinyl, I had some vintage clothes and shoes for sale, my Cosmic Crochet crafts, vintage sewing patterns and wallpapers, a fabulous antique rug I was selling for a friend, and a selection of cards and curious things from the very wonderful Colva Books.  How’s this for an inviting-looking counter?ShopCounterand a fine selection of quality vinyl?VinylSelection

Obviously I couldn’t waste such a fabulous dressing-up opportunity!  Yes, it’s the 1970s terylene, blogged here, and my very favourite of my mum’s 70s necklaces.MeOutside

It was a fun day – friends dropping in for tea, some great sounds, plus I got to meet a bunch of lovely folk and talk music and clothes and sewing, all without having to leave my front room.  As far as sales go, well… let’s just say, I won’t be retiring to the English Riviera any time soon!  But it’s given me lots of ideas for future small events and who knows? – Maybe I’ll do it again next year.  With an even BRIGHTER sign…Me&Signwishing you all a neon day-glo happy weekend 🙂

 

Vintage Vinyl

vinylgaloreIt’s not all crochet, gardening and loud cotton prints here at SarahStar-land, y’know!  Welcome to my other world, of Vintage Vinyl.

Not that it was in any way ‘vintage’ when I bought it: these LPs all date from my teens and twenties, when vinyl was pretty much the only choice.  Apart from cassettes of course, but no self-respecting music lover would buy them!  My collection spans the 60s, 70s, and 80s and all kinds of rock, with a few forays into folk and electronica, as you’d expect from a an old ex-goth hippie chick such as myself!  RoyHarperBut, much-loved though they were in their day, I’ve been carting these albums around for (*mumbles incoherantly*) years now, and this summer I decided the time had come to let them go.  Not absolutely everything, but a good 100 or so, most of which I either have on CD or would never listen to again anyway.

Boy, have I learned A LOT about the vintage vinyl business in the last few months! Cleaning, grading, labels, matrix codes… and I thought I’d just take a few snaps and bung them out there!vinylcleaning

Going through all these old records, some of which I haven’t even looked at in 20 years, has been rather fun, though.  They knew how to do album art back in the 70s, didn’t they?Taliesyn

And I have to wonder whether there are some records I actually bought more for their covers than the music? –  I’m pretty sure Kari-Ann Muller’s electric blue eyeshadow and sexy silver platforms were what made Roxy Music’s first album a ‘Must-Have’, for one!RoxyGatefold

Ah, the pop of the needle hitting the disc; the anticipatory crackle; the depth of the sound… and oh yeah, the skips, jumps, and surface hiss! The horror of knocking the needle and dragging a great scratch across your brand new, limited-release Led Zeppelin!  Taping 2p pieces to your stylus to stop that 12″ single from getting stuck….  Ah, the joys of Vintage Vinyl!

Wishing you all a very GROOVY week 🙂

 

(PS If you’d like to see my LPs for sale, please do visit my eBay profile).

 

Vintage sewing patterns treasure trove!

reposted from 27 Oct 2014

Remember last month, I mentioned that I’d spent a happy evening rummaging through a treasure trove of vintage patterns at my friend Jas’s?  Well I also took LOADS of pictures to share with you!  CHECK THESE OUT!60s&70s Along with a gorgeous batch of funky 70s wear, I also fell in love with a whole bunch of Vogue Designer originals from the 60s, and even some 40s and 50s lingerie patterns that had belonged to Jas’s mum, with all the pieces and instructions (not that they gave many!) still complete:40slingerie

We managed to find a few of these older ones on Vintage Pattern Wiki, but the daywear dress below left, with half the number missing, we couldn’t track down.  Judging from the style I reckon it must be 1950s.  Any info, anyone?50sDress&slips

Now, what about these Vogue Designers from the 1960s?  Here’s a Belinda Bellville from 1969.  She was the founder of Bellville-Sassoon, went on to design for the likes of Princess Di and was responsible for that pink number she wore on her wedding day. Think I like her 60s styles better!belindabellville

Or this Oscar de La Renta from 1968.  Look at that styling – straight out of a cult 60s movie or what??delarenta

This next one by French design house Patou, was featured in the trendy French magazineL’Art et la Mode in 1964, as shown in the repro by Paper Pursuits belowPatou1432

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Jas was obviously fond of Galitzine (inventor of the palazzo pyjamas in 1960), and has a whole bunch of her designs from the 60s and 70s.  Here are three I really love:galitzine1648galizine2123

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The top two are from 1968 & 69; this last one has been hard to date, but I reckon early- to mid-70s.  It just oozes that lazy-but-glitzy-but-slightly-sleazey 70s style!

And now we’re on to my favourite decade, how about these great vest ‘n’ flares combos from Simplicity?  Gotta love a pattern that calls for ostrich feather trim on your trousers!70sSimplicity

And finally, could it be that Vogue were plagarising  channelling their own classic Stan Herman design from 1975 here, famously modelled by Billie Blair – what do you think?!V1169

70shoodieI hope you’ve enjoyed these little highlights from a truly amazing vintage collection.  Many thanks to Jas for sharing them!

Now I’m off to rethink my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge yet AGAIN….

 

PS – many apologies to commentors whose comments were obliterated in the Blogmove Disaster – please do feel free to re-post!

WhooHoo! 70s Sweetheart Sundress

front1Yes, Auntie Janis has been at it again!  It’s Gertie’s Sweetheart Sundress (from her New Book for Better Sewing), made with a vintage 1970s terylene that some of you may remember from my Vintage Pattern pledge post.label The fabric came from a local charity shop and was quite faded and worn in places – so much so that I never thought I’d be able to use it for anything except a lining.  But when I saw the Sweetheart Sundress pattern, I thought it might be possible to squeeze this out of the best bits.  So before you ask, yes, it was a sheet, and yes, it had gone a bit off-grain: so as well as having to jigsaw my pattern pieces around the fabric, I also had to do the old ‘thread pull’ technique in order to find a straight-ish edge to use as a grainline guide! grainlines2Overall, it came out rather well and I’m particularly pleased with my pattern-matching efforts on the back – not easy with a pattern repeat of this size, I can tell you!  As the front was ruched I didn’t bother trying to match it, and there was only enough fabric to match one seam on the skirt, so I chose the back one.  Didn’t get it quite right in the final sew, but check out my bodice-skirt alignment, not bad?!patternmatching The lining is also made from cotton sheeting, which gives the terylene a nice bit of body and feels wonderfully cool.  I don’t normally bother lining my summer dresses, but as it was such a fab vintage fabric I really wanted to make something that would be lovely to wear and last a long time. lining Gertie’s pattern came together like a dream, I am SO impressed with her book, not only are the patterns simple to use but the instructions are bang on.  One thing I will take with me for next time, if she tells you to do something a particular way (eg, ‘machine baste the skirt to the bodice’), I reckon it’s because she’s made this for herself and worked out that this is the best and easiest way to do it.  So PAY ATTENTION – Gertie knows best!

Anyway I was so thrilled that for once I didn’t have to worry about altering bust darts and armholes – yay!! – that I didn’t even bother making a toile.  MISTAKE?? – Well, not if I’d thought it through a bit better maybe!  I knew I’d lost a teeny bit of weight since I last took my measurements, but stupidly didn’t re-do them and made the dress (lining and all) using ones I took in January.  Result? – Potential obscenity charges for displaying unseemly amounts of both bra & contents!  For the moment, I’ve just put a tuck in either side at the top and will need to shorten the straps a little, so there’s a bit of ‘tweaking’ still to do. back1 However, that hasn’t stopped me from wearing it out not once but TWICE already, I absolutely love this crazy fabric paired with the retro-style pattern 🙂 sillypose So when I’ve quite finished striking silly poses, I may well make another!

Vintage Sewing Pattern (and fabric!) Pledge

Vintage sewing pattern pledgeThis month, the super-talented Marie over at A Stitching Odyssey has thrown down an irresistible challenge to all us vintage sewing pattern lovers – to make 2014 the year we get those patterns out of the stash and turn them into finished projects!

So I am pledging not only to make at least three of my vintage patterns this year, but also to use at least three of my vintage fabrics (not necessarily on the same projects, though).  My first picks will most likely be these Simplicity dresses from the 60s and 70s, given to me by my mum.  Luckily we’re the same size, so no major pattern redrafting required!70s simplicityAnother pattern I’d love to make up is this funky pant suit, very similar in fact to one my mum had in a deep plum worsted wool back in the early 70s.  Cool or what??70s PracticalAnd then there’s this baby, which belonged to my gran.  I found out recently it’s quite a famous Vogue original from 1964 – and yes, that really is Jean Shrimpton modelling.  I’ve had it for maaaany years, so maybe it’s about time I got it out of the envelope and gave it a go!50s VogueDo you like my 70s floral cotton/terylene in the background there??  Sadly it’s a bit faded but I’m thinking of using it to line a dress, hmm, not sure if that counts towards my pledge though!  How about this, a small piece of psychedelic synthetic jersey from the 70s?  I thought I’d use it to make the front panel of this 90s lace-up dress.  (Anything early 90s is now officially ‘vintage’, by the way – see this post from Gertie.  I’m not sure how I feel about that, myself!)70s silky with patternI also have this fabulous 70s soft cotton lawn that I’ve been wanting to make up for ages.  I only have a scant 2 ¾ yards though – I’d love to make my mum’s maxi dress with it but it’s only 35” wide, too narrow for the skirt.  Any suggestions or ingenious solutions gratefully received!70s green paisley with patternAnd finally I thought I’d leave you with my ultimate 70s fabric gem, gifted to me by my lovely friend Helen.70s pixie fabricand just to prove I’m not all talk, this really did become a (fancy) dress…pixie party dressAre any of you joining in with the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge this year?  I’d love to hear about your ideas for makes!

 

It Started with a Granny Square…

Back at the beginning of 2012, there was a nasty flu going round our neck of the woods.  My friend Alison at work was ill with this all over Xmas, and whilst she’d been laid up on the sofa she’d taught herself to crochet.

Now, I’ve always loved crochet.  Not the lacy-doily kind, but the funky, 1970s kind, and in particular, those mad colourful granny squares that got made into everything from tank-tops and cardigans to far-out home décor.  Like this blanket – it just makes me think of some cult technicolour B-movie with a psychedelic soundtrack!multicoloured crochet afghan blanket from 1970sOnce on the mend Al started bringing her creations into work – a lovely bag, flowers, and of course, beautiful little granny squares.  I admired them so much I plied her for information, and she pointed me in the direction of her (and now my) Crochet Guru, Lucy at Attic 24.

So when I too succumbed to the dreaded lurgie, I found myself looking at all those bright, wonderful things on Lucy’s blog and was totally inspired.  I wanted to make things like that!  And I wanted to be able to do it right now!

But where to start? – I found one “beginner’s” book in our local library, with plenty of diagrams on how to make stitches in rows, and lots of complicated-looking pattern charts.  But, oh dear… how do you hold the hook?  How do you keep the yarn between your fingers?  How do you even make a chain in the first place??  Lucy’s “summer garden” blanket seemed so very far beyond reach…Small colourful crochet granny squares

I searched YouTube with my stuttering, go-slow internet connection and after much staring at the little blue circle I eventually found a friendly, easy-to-follow tutorial that I downloaded and played again and again, fumbling along with some bits of old acrylic DK from the bottom of my knitting bag until I eventually made something that looked like a square.  Oh, how chuffed I was with that first square!  Then I made another.  And another.  I tried a second colour!  The more I made, the more they began to resemble the ones in the video.first squaresBy this time I was fully flu’d-up, and unable to leave the house for supplies.  But I was hooked!  I worked my way through the remnants in my knitting bag (which were few as I’m not that much of a knitter), even using scraps from an old craft kit  that was intended for making fairies’ hair (the mauve-pink square in the top corner)!  Before I’d finished the box of Lemsip, I had enough squares to make my very first cushion cover:multicoloured crochet cushion coverA couple of weeks later, I bought some cheapie wool and made another:blue and brown crocheted granny square cushion slightly more accomplished than the first oneAnd THEN, feeling ambitious, I embarked on my own version of the “Summer Garden” blanket, using multi-coloured cotton yarn for the ‘flowers’ as I wasn’t yet confident enough to keep changing colour on every round.  That took several months, as I moved house and had more health problems in the meanwhile, but it was finally finished last autumn:corner detail of crochet afghan blanket mutlicoloured squares with brown border and multi-coloured edgingBut like most crafty folk, I’m always finding inspiration for new projects, and when I saw this pattern on Etsy, I couldn’t resist!gtat frontI’ve just finished making all the squares for this mad cardigan and laying them out ready to join together,rows of colourful crochet squaresbut of course whilst making it, I came up with an idea for another cushion cover!hot cushion squaresand now I’ve gone and bought a book full of new patterns….