Monday, 26 August 2013

Remaking a fifties / eighties rose print dress.

I've just had a couple of weeks off work to recharge my creative batteries.
I was hoping to have a lot of sleeps in, but my cat Lola decided to moonlight as a feline alarm clock.
Anyway, I managed to read lots of books on fashion history and design.
I've been wanting to attack my stash of vintage fabric and patterns (which has alarmingly grown to fill 4 or 5 boxes!) but I have a huge basket of mending which has been something of a mental block.
This peach and blue dress was made by me (from Butterick 3624) in 1986, but I hardly ever wore it because it had a puffy gathered skirt and an annoying floppy scarf-type collar which never sat correctly.
I'm not sure where the fifties / milkmaid revival theme came from, but it must have made sense to me at the time!
My weird mathematical mind thinks that it's a 30 year fashion revival cycle (1950s/1980s/2010s). 
When I made it, my antique sewing machine didn't do zigzag, and I was a lazy dressmaker, so the innards are a bit messy.
I seem to remember having to lose some of the fullness in the skirt and sleeves the first time I made it.
This time around I took off the skirt, converted the dirndl to four box pleats, lining them up with the princess seams, and re-attached it.
Then I took off the collar, re-shaped, re-interfaced, re-lined and re-attached it.
Finally it needed some extra oomph so I converted the old scarf collar ends to curved cuffs, re-interfaced them and sewed them on.
The whole project has taken several months of planning, because I like to mull these things over rather than dive right in!
It's still not perfect, but it's a lot better, and I've always loved the blue rose print on a soft cotton twill.
It's also nice to see that my sewing skills have improved over the years.
I'm not 100% sold on the peachy-pink, despite Curtise from Past Caring's fabulous blog post on the colour pink - maybe I'll dye it red or purple.
It follows on quite well from the green roses theme last week, n'est-ce pas?
Hopefully my sewing drought is now over.
Now for some orange roses:
A "Designed by Juliet" NZ-made 1960s chiffon maxi from Toff's which I will be shortening and turning the collar around so it's a V-neck.
And some red roses: 

Two cushion covers from the Salvation Army which I will be turning into a skirt.
Roses are beautiful, don't you think?

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Green roses for a green lady

At a school fair last autumn I bought a red velvet top with green appliqued roses which didn't fit me. I justified it by planning to give it to a friend, but the other day I decided to refashion it into a collar.

I've safety-pinned the collar to a brown cardigan, but it will look just as good on my green, red, black or navy ones.
I might change it by chopping off the corner roses - what do you think?
I cut the velvet roses off the collar and sleeve of the original top:
and hand sewed them onto a black felt backing, tidying up most of the loose ends.
I've worn it once and got some compliments, and it feels good to wear, a bold statement.
It's got an Edwardian look I think.
Although I was reluctant to change the original garment, it needed a lot of mending, I knew I would never wear it and the red crushed velvet was not my thing. 
The next day I was also in a green mood so this was my outfit:
Green/blue Silk Alike shirt with cubist pattern, op shopped.
Green/grey Lurex crimplene skirt, part of a suit, hand made, from Trade me.
Green plastic beads, op shopped.
Gino Vittelli shoes, op shopped.
This picture reminds me I really need some green tights and shoes but had to make do with brown.
Speaking of green, here are some recent purchases, after a road trip south:
Green and white Art deco barkcloth curtains from the Balclutha Red Cross, $2.

Green, turquoise and grey apron from the Balclutha Sally Army, $2.

Green, orange and yellow shirt from the Dunedin Sally Army.

Green and grey fabric from the Mosgiel Hospice Shop.
I never realised how well green and grey go together but hopefully these photos show they do!
In the title I said I was a green lady, but in reality I have got a long way to go.
On the plus side I use public transport, am a part-time vegetarian, make some of my clothes, and buy recycled goods.
On the minus side I have a car, a large house, hardly ever use my bike, eat and drink more than I need, and buy more than I need (even if it is second hand - does that count?) 
I've just seen a thought-provoking documentary called The Human Scale.
Here's the synopsis from IMDB:
"50 % of the world's population lives in urban areas. By 2050 this will increase to 80%. Life in a mega city is both enchanting and problematic. Today we face peak oil, climate change, loneliness and severe health issues due to our way of life. But why? The Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl has studied human behavior in cities through 40 years. He has documented how modern cities repel human interaction, and argues that we can build cities in a way, which takes human needs for inclusion and intimacy into account. THE HUMAN SCALE meets thinkers, architects and urban planners across the globe. It questions our assumptions about modernity, exploring what happens when we put people into the center of our planning."
The last fifth was about the demolition and re-planning of Christchurch after the earthquakes, which I found very moving. I'm glad they've put a limit of seven stories in the city centre, but it could have been even lower.
Stay green my lovely readers,

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Sustainability begins with Preservation.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon I mooched along Moray Place and Princes Street for some window retail therapy.
No second-hand or antique shops but lots of galleries and quirky shops.
This building on Princes St is being lovingly renovated.
The sign reads "Sustainability begins with Preservation".
I couldn't have put it better myself.
We have a handful of developers here who are restoring our heritage buildings rather than knocking them down (see my recent post on Christchurch).
This fashion shop, Dada, has a brilliant coat hanger sculpture.

 And some stunning jewellery.
With some fun mannequins.

This is a flower shop with a striking display of vintage china cups.
(It's closed, hence the lack of flowers.) 

Above and below, Moray Gallery with some funky art and crafts.

First Church (yes it was the firrrst church in Dunedin!), Moray Place.
My parents were married here.

A painting by Frank Gordon in Gallery De Novo.

A painting of an art deco building by Nic Dempster.

 Another painting in Gallery De Novo.
Sorry I'm not sure who the artist is but it looks like an Angela Burns.

 The former Public Trust building, Moray Place.
I think my grandfather worked here as an accountant.
Queens Building, Princes St.

 Variety Handcrafts, a really old-school craft shop, where your nana might sell her work.
Love it.

Design Withdrawals, a fabulous craft gallery. 

The former synagogue.
Many of our early prominent families were Jewish, for example: Hallenstein, Brasch, Fels, Benjamin, Siedeberg, Isaacs, Bing, Harris, Theomin, Vogel, Joel, Farjeon, Cohen, de Beer.
We have the world's southernmost permanent synagogue.

This building, Kirkland Chambers, caused a few headaches when it was first painted bright blue, but now that I'm used to it I really like it (even though it's not indigo).
Dunedin has fallen on hard times, with a recent massive increase in unemployment.
Central government has caused the closure of local post offices, a mail sorting centre, a railway manufacturer, and may downsize an agricultural research facility.
It's always been a city which elects left-of-centre politicians, and the current right-wing government hasn't been winning any friends recently.
Fortunately there are a lot of interesting, artistic people here which gives it a great quality of life.
Currently we are showing an international film festival, and it's really hard to decide what to see.
On the first day there were six films I wanted to see, but I only made it to one (Stories we tell, directed by Sarah Polley).
Until next time,

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Her face is sans feature, but she wears a Dali brooch

I bought this blue diamond patterned dress over the 'net (pun intended).
It's still a bit wintry to wear it, even though July was our warmest July on record.
The orange and white brooch was made by Jo Howard, a talented Dunedin ceramic artist.
I've got half a dozen of her pieces, I like her work.
Although I'm more of a cat person, I seem to have inherited a few dogs.
A Staffordshire chimney ornament.
Dog staring adoringly at owner.
I think I know why so many men prefer dogs to cats.
This might be quite old, but probably not valuable as it is chipped.

Dogs on a motorbike!
How could I resist? 
For this hideousness I broke my own rule of not buying salt and pepper sets.

A Cadbury Bournville chocolate tin.
"Dignity and Impudence" by Sir Edwin Landseer.
There is a Cadbury factory here in Dunedin, but I don't know if it was bought here, as the tin is made in England.

Two Avon cologne bottles.
How bizarre - dog cologne?

A bulldog smoking toasted navy cut tobacco.
This is just wrong.

I'm not sure if this is a dog or a fox.

A cute wooden dachshund toy.
I have dozens of these glass animal Bols miniatures!
One day I may drink them.
Ta-ta for now,

Sunday, 4 August 2013

In which I brake for deer ; and visit some broken Christchurch buildings.

Last week I flew to Christchurch for some training, a city I haven't spent more than a couple of hours in since the earthquakes started three years ago, so I decided to take a couple of days' leave.
On the first day I forgot my camera and phone but had a fruitful time nonetheless.
Did somebody mention obligatory blogger deer?
I've always wanted to start a collection of paint-by-numbers and I hit the jackpot in the City Mission!
It's been lovingly framed behind glass.
It was totally worth lugging back to the motel and as hand luggage on the plane.
Talking of paint-by-numbers I picked this Scream by Munch kit up from Whitcoulls for $10:
I'm hoping I can paint my masterpiece next week when I'm on holiday.
As someone with no artistic talent this is my only hope!
The magnificent Helga had kindly furnished me with a list of her favourite op shops but most of them will have to wait for my next trip in September when I will have my car. 
My first stop was Madame Butterfly's, who had some beautiful vintage fabric and frocks, on sale but not cheap, but I wasn't in the mood for it.
I'm a fickle creature.
Next stop was St. Vincent's, who had some great linen but nothing floated my boat.
Then Retropolitan, where I bought a beautiful 70s curtain as I have a mind to create some curtain couture.
Then the aforementioned City Mission and the deer painting.
The next day I spent some time in libraries researching my latest passion - Scandinavian design.
Then I bought a gorgeous new plastic deer brooch:
 New brooch from The General Store.
Seventies dress from Toffs.
My old Zieras were on their last legs so I got these in their sale.
My feet have "issues" and this Kiwi brand is my favourite.
I love this optometrist's window display, complete with foxy lady and Crown Lynn swans.
I saw some new swans in Ballantynes, which I am contemplating buying.
They aren't fakes, as the makers own the copyright, but I don't know if I should wait until I can afford an original one.
I might be waiting a while!
I adore the art deco New Regent Street, which seems to be largely intact after the quakes:

Not so lucky were the cathedral and square, which have only recently had the cordons lifted:

 Amazingly, the gates weren't locked, and people were going into the forecourt.

They have made the best of a tragic situation but putting up some temporary artworks on the fences but it looks like the architectural centrepiece of Christchurch will be demolished.
I lost the plot after I took that last photo because that spot behind the cathedral is my favourite part of the city.
 This is the hotel in the square where I stayed when I went to the Pixies concert a few years ago, and we met the All Blacks in the bar.
It's re-opening this month.
 I love the rust streaks on the building and the fluro yellow of the coffee caravan and hi-vis jackets.
Virtually everyone in the city centre seems to be wearing one. 
 The silhouette of a demolished building.
 A ruined church.
 This building has a supremely optimistic "for lease" sign on it.
 On top of the centre building is a statue of a man pointing to the sky.
 Presumably the original city council building.
 This child care centre has "forced clear... 26/2" painted on the door by rescue personnel.
I think that was after the worst aftershock on 22/2/2011.
It must have taken a long time to check all the buildings. 
 The roof of this church is still standing.
A couple of days after I photographed this church in Merivale, there was outrage over its demolition on the front page of the newspaper. 
They need to take a look at this amazing book, which is chock-full of restored heritage buildings.
I can't speak for Christchurch and Canterbury people, but if I were in their boots I'd be in shock at the amount of demolition that's gone on.
I know they're only buildings though, and the loss of life was far more devastating.
I can only speak from a visitor's perspective, and I have a great deal of respect for people living in the area, they have gone through a lot of trauma.
There are already a lot of 1970s buildings, like the motel I stayed in:
with its glorious winter sunset.
But I hate to see most of the heritage buildings destroyed.
The earthquakes were a major disaster for Canterbury, and people from all over the country are helping with the rebuild.
I was really touched when the shop manager who sold me the deer brooch said it was great that I was spending my holiday in Christchurch.