Sunday, 24 March 2013

Beverly Hills, West Germany and communal change rooms

I have been sewing lately, but everything is delayed due to my own mistaken belief that being industrious suits me (it actually just inspires procrastination on a greater level than usual). So here are some opshop and vintage finds I've, er, found lately.

Green leopard print dress

It actually is green. I'm planning on winterising this as there is no way I could wear this or any backless dress in summer.

Shawl and gloves. I found these in a stall at the Bendigo Pottery.

The gloves on the left are actually teal, and on the right, emerald green.

Yesterday I picked up some truly amazing items at the RetroStar warehouse sale (seriously, if you're in Melbourne, you should go to these sales). These sales can be wonderful, and I'd like to offer the following advice:

* prepare to spend several hours browsing
* wear clothing easy to take on/off in a communal change room
* whilst changing in said communal change room, do not stand with 5 of your friends directly in front of all the mirrors to change and compare clothes. The mirrors are for everyone. The change room is large. Pick a spot and learn to share.

First, the slightly less exciting items - two casual dresses which can be easily winterised or worn as is in summer. For some reason, brown florals greatly appeal to me. They make me thing of wood nymphs and sprites in autumn (ok, I guess I know the reason why they appeal to me!)

I can only button this dress as far as the waist, so I might add a modesty panel to the front or just throw on a camisole underneath. Or long sleeved tops in winter.

One sleeve badly needs an iron!

And now, the good stuff.

I bought this purely because it's fun. It looks to me like something an aging starlet would wear, swooning in bed and pining over her lost 25 year old toy boy (he preferred the attentions of Roderigo, the muscular and eternally shirtless pool boy).

The pink velvet curtains haven't been drawn back for days, the room stuffy yet cool. Empty gin bottles litter the floor and two lap dogs are alternately cooed and wept over, pink bows in their hair, which they shed all over the satin quilt cover.

I decided to have a look for the name online, in case it still exists. I found out Lucie Ann of Beverly Hills was actually quite popular amongst the starlets. The below paragraph is taken from Dollhouse Bettie

"Lucie Ann Lingerie was founded by designer Lucie Ann Onderwyzer in Hollywood in 1949. Born in Belgium, she brought a European woman's passion for beautiful lingerie with her to the United States. Her designs are known for their femininity and glamour,  capturing the dazzling opulence of 50s Hollywood. She created babydolls, slips, pajamas, bed jackets, peignoirs and lounge wear but she is most famous for her exquisite nightgowns, often fashioned from yards and yards of colorful nylon tricot and adored with fancy details like marabou trim, rhinestones, ribbons and pom-poms. 

"The luxurious designs made her a favorite to the stars with clientele that included Elizabeth Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Loretta Young. In the 70s she was hired to design all the peignoir sets for Eva Gabor's title character Lisa in the television show Green Acres. Onderwyzer's creativity was highly regarded and she  was presented with the 1966 Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion."

So I'm going to believe this gown did in fact belong to an aging starlet, swooning in bed. It's kind of hard to look at this thing without wanting to swan about in it.



Right, enough of that...

The other amazing find is this red dress

The tag proclaims it to be made in West Germany but nothing to indicate when. It could easily be a costume. The button holes seem way too large for these buttons so the buttons may not be original. It also has a side zip.

This sad little bow may also be a late addition. It's only pinned on with a safety pin.

Finally, I re-purpled my hair and learned how exactly how many times I can bleach it before it starts to sizzle off. Fortunately I was only left with a patch of short fuzz, not an actual bald spot. 

I shall return with actual sewing soon.

Monday, 11 March 2013

McCalls 1958 cocktail dress

Giving Joan a run for her money? Yes, I do think so.


I op-shopped this pattern a little while ago. I assumed I'd be taking the seams in quite a bit, given it's a size 16. However, it seems pattern measurements were accurate in 1958. The measurements for a 16 on this pattern are 36-28-38 which are smaller than my measurements. I used tiiiny seams but ended up having to take it in around the bust. (With modern patterns, I use a 12. They always fit and I usually have to take the bust in a bit as well.)


I did not make the bolero because I find it ugly.

 The pattern pieces are very shapely. Here you can see the obvious indentations at the waist.


I'm a cheater sewist, which means I do things the easy way, as opposed to the correct way, where possible. For this dress, I left out the (rather unnecessary) feather boning in the bodice. I don't need it any tighter. I also took about 5 inches off the length of the hem.


And no, I'm not cold. That would be the darts in the bust. Clearly this dress was made for an eye-gougingly pointy bra.


You can see the double darts in the bodice more clearly here. Combined with the shape of the pieces, this makes it one very fitted dress. It's actually very comfortable though. The fabric I made it in has no stretch at all (and creases at the drop of a hat, curses!) and it's not restrictive in the least.


Everything else:
Shoes: Modcloth
Pearl necklaces (one worn as bracelet) - cheap retail
Vintage black velvet coat - gift from a family friend