Tuesday, May 31, 2011

a vintage day!

Today I start my apprenticeship at Polly Sue's vintage store in Takoma Park, MD. If you're local, come visit me on a Tuesday or Saturday morning! I will be learning the vintage business, in the hopes of starting my own shop in a year or so.

Friday, May 13, 2011

flowers and things

Looks like I was wrong about not having time to post, because here I am with a tutorial! I made mini tissue paper flowers with my kids at work, and made some of them into a floral crown. It turned out so cute I had to share the instructions with you, Internet.

So: here's what you need.

-at least 5 colors of tissue paper
-floral wire

First, cut your tissue paper into small rectangles. Mine were about 2.5" by 3.5", but they don't have to be exact. Yours can be a little bigger or smaller, depending on how big you want your flowers to be. (These instructions also work for making GIANT flowers, which the kids enjoyed just as much. They don't make very good crowns, though.) Pick out 5 sheets, and cut a piece of floral wire about 4 inches long.


Next, stack your tissue paper sheets and accordion-fold them together the whole way across.


Fold the end of your floral wire (at least half an inch) over the middle of your tissue paper, and twist it tightly in place.


The next part can be a little tricky. Start pulling the individual 'petals' of your flower apart. Work from the center outwards.


Once you've separated all the petals, you should have a lovely, fluffy tissue-paper flower!


If you want to make your flowers into a crown, you'll need to make a bunch-- I used 7 for mine. Take a looooong piece of floral wire, and make a loop big enough to fit securely around your head. I wrapped mine around three times, so it would be extra-sturdy, and twisted the ends into place. Then twist the long 'stems' of your flowers around the loop, making sure not to leave too much space between blossoms. This was the best picture I could get of myself wearing my crown:


Hope you have fun making your own crown, or just turning out bunches of blooms!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

just stopping by

Sticking my head in to say hello-- sorry there's been no outfits posts. I seem to have gotten too busy to take them on a regular basis, and blogging has fallen by the wayside.

However, if you'd like to see a lot of pretty pictures of 1950s dresses, I have taken to tumblr'ing them at http://a-red-robin.tumblr.com/. See you there!

Monday, March 7, 2011

what I wore

I bought this dress yesterday at DC Big Flea, and I couldn't wait to wear it! It has the sweetest monogram, embroidered in pale blue thread that matches the dress perfectly.

With thrifted boots and tights, it's just warm enough for this time of year. I know it's premature-- especially since temperatures are supposed to dip back below forty next week-- but I've already packed away all my depths-of-winter clothes to the back of the closet, and brought out my bright-colored cotton dresses. Just looking at them makes it feel more like spring.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

why i don't wear a girdle

the 1940s-Ad for Scandale girdle and bra

So I wear a lot of vintage. I don't, however, wear the underpinnings that would give me a proper vintage shape. There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is just plain luck. I happen to be blessed with a figure that's well-suited for vintage: I have narrow shoulders, an average-sized bust and a small waist. My big hips are easily hidden in the swish of a full skirt. My figure is pretty much what the New Look designers had in mind, and I don't need to alter my shape to match their ideal. If I wanted to wear '20s or '30s styles it would be a different story, but I'm pretty well built for the '50s and early '60s.

1940s FORMFIT GIRDLE vintage fasion illustration advertisement women's underwear woman

The main reason, though, is that I'm kind of uncomfortable with the the societal underpinnings of vintage underpinnings. Shapewear is restrictive, both physically and phsychologically: it's meant to constrict your body and your movement. It's meant to mold you into something that nature hasn't intended you to be, into a shape that's in keeping with whatever fashion currently dictates.

The history of shapewear, from the earliest corsets onward, is a history of women being molded to suit fashion, contorting their bodies to match one another. A woman born at the end of the Victorian era would have seen a half a dozen 'ideal' shapes come and go in her lifetime, each with its own set of underwear meant to mold her body into that new shape.

Even today, different body types come in and out of style. It's just that nowadays, if your body doesn't suit the current fashion, you just kind of resign yourself to not finding anything cute in the stores until fashion changes. I don't know that this is a better option-- in an ideal world, fashion would embrace a wider range of body types. But this obviously isn't an ideal world.

I'm not saying I judge or look down on women who *do* choose to embrace shapewear, vintage or modern. I'm just saying that I, personally, am uncomfortable with the implications of it, and choose not to wear it myself. The fact that it's a choice I can make is awesome, and one of the many reasons I'm glad to be a vintage-wearing girl in the 21st century.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

estate sale of awesome

Back from an estate sale in Alexandria, $75 poorer. But six dresses and four petticoats richer, so I think that's equitable. My original plan was to resell the petticoats and whichever dresses didn't fit, but they all fit, so now I have a bit of a dilemma. But I also have:

Two velvet dresses, one black and full-skirted, one red with a scalloped collar that makes me look super hot
Two sundresses, one blue-and-white striped, the other with woven butterflies
Two fancy dresses, one black, one navy, that are super cute

Moral of this story: I should always go to estate sales in Alexandria. Actually, I should also get to them earlier-- apparently I arrived after a lady cleaned them out of all the really old stuff.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

a debut

Starting Sunday, March 20, I'm going to be selling vintage and antique books at Eastern Market. DCistas, come visit me, and check out all the awesome stuff I'm going to have for sale! I'll remind y'all again closer to the date, but I wanted to announce it as soon as possible. I'm really excited!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

paper dolls, again

I love making these. And I have it on good authority that they're really fun to color in, and make great magnetic dolls. So I encourage y'all to print them out and get out the colored pencils!

This set was inspired by Sally Jane Vintage.

In other news, I went to an estate sale this morning. Got a dress and a silhouette and a soft little gray leather coin purse with a white key stitched to the front. Then I walked around Antique Row in Kensington for a while, looking at all the pretties. Nice way to spend a Saturday morning, I think.

Friday, February 25, 2011

a skirt with a story

I found a skirt from the '50s at the Habitat for Humanity thrift store, the only item of clothing in the place that was more than thirty years old. It had been hacked off at the waistband, the raw edge crudely whip-stitched over; the lady behind the counter said it must have been the bottom half of dress, once. It had a built-in crinoline and a glorious print, all gray and mint and goldenrod. I bought it for $3. It fits perfectly.

I folded over the cut edge and stitched it down. There was piping a half-inch below the edge, so I used that as the new waistband. I'm going to cover the raw edge with hem tape, I think, and install a hook and eye at the waist so the zipper stays up.

I wish I knew what the top half looked like, of the dress it used to be. I wish I knew why it was cut up, and how it ended up at the thrift store. It looks homemade; I wish I knew who sewed it. But one of the things you have to get used to, with vintage, is that the clothes keep their secrets.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

so I think I'm back

Okay, so that turned out to be a bit more of a break than I'd been planning. But it was awfully hard to get excited about clothes in the coldest part of the winter. I spent a lot of time wearing-- gasp-- jeans, usually with tights or leggings under them for extra warmth! But it looks like the weather's going to stay above 45 from here on out, so I can start dressing up again. I'm going to try to take outfit photos at least twice a week, and have some interesting links and photos for you as well.

To start things off, here are some paper dolls I made, inspired by some lovely clothes over at Dear Golden. I think I might make a project of this-- go around to some of my favorite blogs and designers, and make paper dolls out of their clothes.

Do you have any favorite dresses or outfits or shoes that you'd like to see paper dollified? Link them for me, and I'll see what I can make!