Monday, 17 August 2015

Shop Open

Minor Update

If you don't happen to be a follower of my sister blog then you've probably been unaware of the ongoings in my life; like a major surgery, followed by a bout of illness, and now a very difficult and time consuming work schedule. During whatever personal time I may find I've been hard at work on my art, but something that's sat on the back burner for far too long is my vintage shop. Now, don't get too excited, although this shop is done up to look like an antiques shop it's really just a place to sell off things that belong to me or were bought up at store closings and the like. I *was* an amateur antiques collector, and I need to downsize, plus make money to pay off medical expenses.

Much of what will be in this store is vintage patterns that I have in excess or no longer need. Some are uncut others have been used gently. I've tried to price them fairly but unfortunately Canada Post drives shipping up the ass, so it's made things difficult to get a profit out of it and please the customer at the same time. I'm currently only shipping in North America because shipping rates internationally are painfully high and not worth it for either me or the customer. If you know someone who would be interested pass the word on, I'll be adding patterns gradually (there's something like over a hundred of them). I might also be selling off some vintage jewelry, accessories, and a few small clothing items, but the majority of products will in fact be patterns. Again, this store is just to sell some stuff off, I'll probably retire it after I'm done. ;)

Happy Sewing! ♥

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

1950's Cropped Blouse - Simplicity 2470

Pattern Make: Simplicity
Pattern Number: 2470
Year of Publication: 1958
Size: 12 Teen
Type of Garment: Jr. Misses' and Teen Age Blouse
Suggested Materials: - All views in: Cottons, broadcloth, flannelette, polished cotton, chambray, linen, rayon, silks, blends.
Suggested Notions: -  Blouse View 1, 2 and 3: 2 spools of thread. View 1: 9 buttons. View 2 and 3: 6 buttons.

Briefly describe your garment: Two types of blouses available in this pattern; the basic foundation of this pattern is a button down blouse with darts, a yoke, a decorative box pleat and detachable collar (with a point at the center back). You can complete Version 1 or 2 which is essentially the same; it's a regular sized blouse with fitted darts and uses long or short sleeves, with the collar (detachable or not). Version 3 is cropped and gathered at the waist and features a button tab on the waistband. I chose Version 3.

What materials were used in the creation of this garment? Stash fabric, of course, because it's springtime and I need to do some spring cleaning! I used a green cotton cherry print. It's a very lightweight fabric and features a busy print, which is why I felt it would work well as a blouse. For the collar I used stash white cotton broadcloth. I also used a lightweight fusible interfacing for the collar and to stabilize the buttonholes. The interfacing is not necessary for this pattern, it's not recommended at all in the instructions. I only used it because my contrasting collar fabric was so lightweight that you could see every detail of the seams! The interfacing helped to eliminate that problem but it also made the collar a little stiff (this might be fixed after a few washes). I think it would be better if you used a cotton that isn't too lightweight for this project so that you don't have to use interfacing.

Did you make any alterations to this pattern
? Yes, this is the first time I tried to alter a pattern prior to the muslin. I followed Nancy Zieman's "fitting finesse" which is where you adjust the pattern in increments by adding to the side seams and pivoting the pattern pieces. She also refers to this as "pattern fitting with confidence"; you can find it on Youtube.

I added approx. 1/2" to the bustline and 3/8" to the waistline of each seam. I dropped the bust dart because I discovered in the muslin fitting that it sat 1 1/2" too high and was 1 1/4" too short - this is to be expected with a junior/teen pattern. Although Nancy's fitting suggestions did help the fit in my waist and bust, the back was far too long. She recommends in her book that I add one inch difference to the back because of the comparison between my measurements and the pattern; I thought that seemed odd so I decided against it. I'm glad I did because the back proved to be too long anyways (I have this problem sometimes with patterns). In the future I plan on taking in less than an inch on the back piece by the yoke because otherwise the back sags a little. Also, since I made adjustments to the bust I think it effected the armscye because the facing didn't sit properly. I ended up finishing the armholes with home-made bias tape and catch stitched them into place.

Were the instructions well written and easy to follow? Everything was easy to follow except for the application of the collar, that was pretty bad. The diagram was clustered and not well done and the directions were somewhat muddled. I've applied a collar once before and felt that this pattern did not do a good job of explaining it, it made it more complicated than necessary. It does do it correctly it's just worded poorly and I'm sure a beginner would feel confused with this one. It also doesn't help that the blouse facing is just slightly longer than what I'm used to; normally I find it will line up with the shoulder seam but in this case it was a centimeter longer and was overlapping the shoulder seam (even after taking in the 1/4" hem). The diagram showed it as being exactly like that, so it's not a pattern piece error, it's literally over-sized for no good reason at all...

Why did you use this pattern? It's cute, I got it a few weeks ago and instantly fell in love with it for its simplistic design. I have a handful of blouse patterns and this one is the nicest looking out of all of them, so I figured what the hell, I'll give it a try. I love creating separates and I felt that this pattern could help build my wardrobe.

Are you happy with the final result? Sort of. The fit is okay, I messed up and forgot to add the additional length to the waistband that I had altered in the bodice. It sits a little snug at the waistline but it's not impossible to live with. I think my choice in fabric resulted in the blouse sitting kind of funny. It was advertised as children's spring cotton but I wonder if it's some kind of quilting cotton because it doesn't drape well (it's sort of frumpy). I also don't like how the back sags but as I mentioned above that could be fixed in the future. My biggest beef with this design is the placket: the placement of the buttons is off and the pattern does not use enough of them! It results in puckering (with peek-a-boobs) and the top button doesn't sit right. This pattern should use eight buttons total instead of six (four main buttons and two on the tab) and possibly use interfacing.

Overall, it's not terrible a looking blouse. It will make a nice lightweight top for warmer weather. I can always unbutton the top button since I don't like it so much. There's nothing I can do about the back issue unless I want to open up my armholes and right now I am not in the mood (I must have seam ripped those bloody things eight times over). I was going to sew this again soon but I think I'll wrap it back up and try something different. It's just too much of a headache right now.

Would you recommend this pattern to others and if so, what skill level? 
As I mentioned above, the instructions for the collar are kind of sketchy; I wouldn't recommend this project for a beginner. If you already have a handful of sewing projects under your belt then I don't think it would be too difficult for you to try this pattern. If you get stuck on the collar just search for "how to set a collar" on Youtube or the like. I've only ever made two 1950's blouses, and this one was by far the nicer looking blouse, but both had fit issues. You can easily pick this pattern up on Etsy or Ebay, I've seen it being sold at reasonable prices.

Would you sew this garment again? I might make this again using Version 2 out of another lightweight printed cotton. I'm not sure I'll ever make this sleeveless or using Version 3 again, it just had so many problems. I'll likely stash it and bring it out again in a month or so.

Happy sewing! ♥

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Makeup by the Decade: The Roaring 20's

Makeup trends of the 1920's

Rather than reiterate what you can already find on the subject of 1920's makeup, I figured I would write about my interpretations and understanding of the makeup from that era.

It sounds funny but when I think of 1920's fashion, I picture a little girl whose gotten into her mother's clothes and makeup and worn too much of it. I think it's the perfect analogy for this decade in makeup; everything was worn in excess. Mascara was hot on the scene, blush was saturated, and eyebrows and lips were highly exaggerated. Nowadays we would look at wearing this much makeup as garish or amateurish, but if you're looking to sport a 1920's look I don't think you have to cake your makeup on in order to be successful.

One of the things you should do when trying to recreate a vintage look is to consider what was available at the time; what was new or on trend at the time in colours, products and styles? For the 1920's we're aware that certain products were popular: mascara was a sure choice for accenting kholed eyes; on trend lip colours were reds and plums; and eyebrow and lip shapes were over-exaggerated.


I believe the eyebrows are what make the 1920's look. If you mess them up you'll end up either looking like a clown or from a different decade altogether! People often assume that in order to achieve a 1920's look you need thin eyebrows but this isn't the case. If you look at photographs from the 20's you will find women with thick natural eyebrows alongside those with pencil thin, drawn on eyebrows. The real defining element of the 20's eyebrow is not necessarily the thickness but the overall shape. If you study the images presented here you will see eyebrows from this time rarely feature a well defined arch, instead eyebrows are rounded. Also, they are usually elongated and shifted, sloping downward. I believe this was done in order to achieve a softer and rounded appearance of the face (as much of the makeup from this decade demonstrates). By rounding the eyebrows and drawing them closer to the eye, it creates a kind of sympathetic look. I've often felt the women from this decade look like cherubs and perhaps that was the intention. Aside from those who chose to curve and slope their eyebrows, there were also women who chose to shape their eyebrows in a more straight and severe looking fashion. This is notable in a few iconic looks, at times seen in images of Theda Bara or Clara Bow (see below).


The second most important element in achieving a 1920's look are the lips. Like the eyebrows, the shape of the lips were highly exaggerated. They were made to appear smaller with a well defined "cupid's bow" (the bow of the lip). For women with fuller lips this was achieved by drawing within the lip line, for women with thinner lips the cupid's bow may have been defined outside of the lip line (as shown in the illustration above **please forgive my wonky drawings). Look at the photos and advertisements of women from this era and you will see the different and unusual shapes used to define the bow of the lip. Lipstick colours that were popular at this time were in dark or bold shades of red, brown, orange and plum.


When you think of eye makeup from the 1920's, you may picture the dark and sultry kohled eyes of Theda Bara. This is the most commonly referenced makeup style of the 20's and although I acknowledge that it has it's place (especially given the heightened interest in Egyptian culture during the 20's), I feel it's a tad overdone and really ought to be used for an evening look. If you look through the various promotional photographs or illustrated advertisements, you'll probably notice that not every girl had dark kohled eyes. Beyond your basic black, there were also shades of brown, blue and even gold was being used. You don't have to cake your eyelid in black shadow to invoke the roaring 20's, as I mentioned before, it's more about the shapes and application of the makeup that make the look. My suggestion for achieving a 20's daytime look is to use softer shades or neutral eye-shadows like peach, gold, sage or taupe. Accent them with a bit of eyeliner close to the lash line on the bottom and upper lids (or leave the lower lid out and apply mascara to the bottom lashes). Apply mascara liberally!


Use of blush was also popular at this time but it was applied to the apple of the cheeks, it was not used to contour but to exaggerate roundness. It was applied generously in shades of orange, pink or red. I've ready varying opinions, but it seems foundation for the most part was intended to look warm and natural.


If you get the shapes and shades down right you can easily create a 1920's makeup. This look is really fun and unusual and can change your appearance dramatically. If you're curious to see what I mean, look at images of Joan Crawford from the 1920's and then those of her from the late 30's or 40's - I had to do a double take! It almost looks like two different people. Keep that in mind if you ever plan on disguising yourself for whatever reason. ; )

Next Month: The Dirty 30's

Best wishes! ♥

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Movie Review: The Cat and the Canary 1939

Title: The Cat and the Canary
Year: 1939
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Directed by: Elliot Nugent
Starring: Bobe Hope, Paulette Goodard, Gale Sondergaard, et al.
Costume Design by: Edith Head
Genre:  Comedy, Horror

It's been awhile since I've reviewed a movie. It's not that I haven't seen any. I've watched plenty of movies over the last couple of months, and I've planned on writing reviews for them, I've just never gotten around to doing them. I either lose track of time or I have to prioritize more important things. I've really wanted to talk about at least one horror film before the winter ends, with good reason; winter is the most dreary and depressing time of year for me. I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which means I get drowsy, irritable and unhappy during the winter months. This year I've been very fortunate because we've had plenty of natural sunshine flowing through our windows and brightening up the house, but then I look down and see all that white fluff and it's depressing. What I like to do during these times is watch horror films. It seems odd, but I feel it's an appropriate winter pastime. It helps me to concentrate on something when I struggle with sad feelings and it's perfect for those dark, silent nights. I truly feel that winter enhances the viewing experience. There is definitely a parallel between the atmospheric tension of an old black and white horror film, and the anxiety that I feel about a never ending black and white winter. Funny, but true.

I happen to own a handful of films on DVD but I acquire the majority of what I watch through downloads. I've had The Cat and the Canary sitting on my computer since October! I originally intended to watch it around Halloween, but the holidays got so hectic that I kept putting it off and eventually forgot about it entirely. It wasn't until recently that I rediscovered it. I had just watched One Body Too Many; an apparent spoof based off The Cat and the Canary - I'm merely speculating here, but the former film does utilize the name of the deceased relative, "Cyrus", as well as the exact same portrait of him. At first I wasn't sure if OBTM was intended to be something of a remake. Rehashing storylines was commonplace back then as films would only show in theaters for so long, viewing times were limited, so it would make sense if OBTM was an attempt to cash in on The Cat and the Canary's success. But the more I think about it the more it seems OBTM is just paying homage to The Cat and the Canary. Either way, the timing is awfully ironic, I didn't plan to watch both films together, nor did I know of any connection between the two!

Speaking of remakes, The Cat and the Canary (1939) is a remake of The Cat and the Canary (1927), which is based off of the play of the same name!

The Plot

The film is set in the Louisiana bayous at the residence of Cyrus Norman, a millionaire who died ten years prior and whose will is now going into effect. Mr. Norman's mansion is situated in a remote location, his beneficiaries must travel via an alligator infested swamp just to get there (and there's no going back either, not until morning). The guests clearly feel uneasy at the prospect of staying in the mansion; it's old and creepy, and the caretaker, Miss Lu (Gale Sondergaard), is a bizarre woman who claims to be in tune with the other world. Intent on getting things over with, the guests assemble in the living area and are told the details of the will. The potential heirs are Aunt Susan (Elizabeth Pattesrson), Cicily (Nydia Westman), Fred (John Beal), Charles (Douglass Montgomery), Wally (Bob Hope) and Joyce (Paulette Goodard) - Norman's only surviving blood relative. Not surprisingly, Joyce is the sole beneficiary to Norman's will. It's indicated that should Joyce fall mad within thirty days (madness being an inherent problem in the Norman bloodline) then the inheritance shall be awarded to the next heir. This puts her at considerable risk of any wrong doing from the other potential heirs, who feel bitter sweetly about Joyce's inheritance. It's made all the more complicated by a disturbing letter given to Joyce by Miss Lu, that implies Joyce's good fortune will be short lived. Not to mention that there's also an escaped mad man loose in the bayou who looks like a human cat...

Everyone acts concerned for Joyce's well being, but it's not clear if they are being truthful or if they're after her fortune (and the hidden treasure, naturally). Of all the guests, Wally, Joyce's childhood friend and the film's comic relief, appears to be the most genuine of the men. This is kind of a given as much of the story takes place around the two of them. This is your archetypal haunted mansion kind of film; there's flashing lights, ghostly noises, hidden rooms and trapped doors, being watched, being stalked, murder, mayhem, mystery, so on and so forth. It's a good film and I don't want to give too much away, so go ahead and watch it.

How would you rate this film? ★★★★ - I loved it!

What did you like about the movie? I like a lot about this movie. First off, the atmosphere was stellar. They did a really good job of set design, it all felt very immersive, like you felt as though you were actually there. When Joyce and Wally go outside, you can almost feel the mugginess of a swampy summer night. I loved the flickering lights and the sounds, I wouldn't say I felt scared, not in the way that we feel scared with horror films today. Instead, I would more describe the feeling of thrill when watching this film. For an older film that in itself is a hell of an accomplishment. To feel thrill at the thought of a spooky mansion, or when Joyce is being violently perused by something lurking in the dark, it's just great. Beyond the atmosphere I found the characters to be fairly interesting, too. Aside from the protagonist, I enjoyed Miss Lu. Gale Sondergaard did an immacualte job of playing a haunting and mystical care taker. I think she was around forty when the film came out, but she was just gorgeous. I found that refreshing. Ordinarily when we see these kinds of murder mystery/haunted house films, there's usually a crochety woman but she's terribly old so we sort of excuse her behavior. But when the woman is younger, and very pretty, it's much more alluring. You wonder why she's so mysterious and withdrawn, and you get the feeling she has a tremendous wisdom about the house and other worldly things.

The genre for this film is a horror comedy, and I think that was entirely successful. Bob Hope was a powerful comedic presence at the time and he really did an excellent job in this film. I felt Westman was good during her parts as well, but unfortunately you don't hear as much from her. Unlike other horror films that attempt to incorporate a comedic element, this film didn't let it get in the way of the thrill, it seemed like the timing was well planned. For example, Hope might dish out a handful of puns and then leave the room, then something suspenseful would take place, and he might joke afterward to take the edge off, but it never interrupted what would otherwise be a scary moment, it just flowed right.

What did you dislike? It's hard to say I dislike something about a movie that I awarded a five star rating. I rarely give a rating that high. I only did it because I felt that in comparison to other films of that time, this film stands out. I would put it with the Universal monster films, and let's be honest, some of those really weren't that great, but it is ranking it quite highly. Although there are a few things I would have liked to see improved, I don't think they hurt the film in any way. What I would have liked to see is more time with the other guests, including Miss Lu. It seemed like some of the characters was seriously underutilized.

There were limited interactions with the group as a whole, it was usually Joyce on her own and then one person would interact with her at a time. This made it so other characters didn't get as much screen time. I felt that if they were given more lines and more depth it could have created greater tension within the group and heightened the suspense. I found that half way through I really didn't consider Cicily or Aunt Susan as a threat and they were shown so infrequently that they might as well have not even existed. The same for Fred, Joyce's other suitor, who happens to be a crusty guy that seems too easily defeated. He competes for her affection against Charles but gives up way too easily. You just want them to break into a fight over her but it never happens. I wanted Aunt Susan to be more consumed by greed so that she could be a potential killer. I wanted more lines from Cicily because she's also comic relief and had a decent comedic chemistry with Wally. The film did have me guessing, but honestly only between like three people and there were a lot more characters in this movie than just that.

Who was your favorite character? Bob Hope's character, Wally. And that's only if I had to choose one, but he certainly stands out to me. I might be a bit biased though, as he reminds me of my fiancé. He has excellent timing with his lines and they really make me laugh, just in his delivery. He's kind of cocky and silly, but I also thought he was hot when he was wooing Joyce. I'm a sucker for being called "baby".

How did you feel about the costume designs? Edith Head was the costume designer for this film, and if you know me you're already aware that I adore her designs. The story takes place over the course of a single night, so there's not much in the way of wardrobe. Joyce has three cute dresses, she starts off with this adorable little gingham number, which I was eyeballing the entire time. The film ends with her in another simple dress, this time floral, but still cute. The real gem, is the dress she's wearing at the height of the film's suspense. I absolutely gush over it. It's a stunning white gown. I couldn't find many stills of it, but she's wearing it in the photo below. It has a kind of beaded/sequined knotted motif on the front yoke. It's gathered near the collar bone and has a plunging neckline. She also wears this adorable little brooch with it.

How many movies are there from this time where the woman in danger is wearing a beautiful white gown? I'm pretty sure White Zombie had it, I know I walked with a Zombie had it, and I know it makes me think of the Bride of Frankenstein. Keep that in mind if you ever plan on making a horror film: give the female lead a sexy, virginal white gown.