Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Historic buildings and Victorian gowns

Today we have more of my Wales adventure, although actually all of these holiday images were taken in England. Never mind.

On my trip, I made time to meet up with two friends, and we found fun interesting places partway between our locations. First, I met my friend Zoe, who I went to primary school with in England, some *mumble mumble* years ago. We met at the Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings, in Worcestershire. It was only a bit over an hour from my base in North Wales, and it is a delightful place.

Basically it is a large plot of land full of relocated historic buildings (and bits of them, like a collection of chimneys and a church spire) that could only be saved from demolition by moving them, mostly out of the path of motorways. Along with the windmill and toll house you see here, were an Elizabethan cottage, a dovecote, a counting house, and an Edwardian building that was now the tea rooms. It was St. George's Day, so we also got to encounter the knight himself, and a dragon on stilts. Teacup wasn't quite sure at first, but then all she wanted to do was find the dragon and stare at him. Oh and pick daisies, of course.

The museum also houses a collection of telephone kiosks. Some of them are connected by their own little exchange, so for 2p you could call your friends in the other phone boxes, which is pretty cute. And sadly this was the least stupid face I made in the Police box, but I had to include it anyway.

The second meet up was with an online friend who you may be familiar with. I got a bit brave for my shy self and contacted Kate-Em to ask if she wanted to hang out, and we spent the day at Dunham Massey, a lovely National Trust Estate in Cheshire. The current exhibition related to the scandal surrounding the marriage of the 7th Earl to a circus performer in the Victorian Era, so there were some pretty clothes. In fact, most of the photos I took were of the pretty clothes. I'm sure you won't object.

It was the details I was obsessed with, like these fabric roses along the shoulder here. Aren't they so charming? And lace. Lots of lace. The Victorian ladies knew what they were doing. Which was mostly shunning circus performers who had the audacity to marry wealthy single earls. The reception from the locals was so chilly that the Earl and his wife left Dunham Massey, and it was down to a later Earl to bring it back into order. Which the 10th (or 9th? I'm not sure) Earl did in the 1920s, including buying back at auction as much of the artwork, silverware and so on that had been sold off in the meantime. I wish I could buy back all the family treasures that have been gotten rid of by my ancestors! Where is that hat pin collection...?

I had a super time with Kate-Em, who is not only incredibly lovely but has some almost-eerily similar experiences in life, and career in particular, which led to us talking on and on until they started to pack up the cafe around us and Teacup fell asleep in my arms. We didn't even get to the gift shop! And you can tell we are neither of us fashion bloggers because even though we were both wearing things we had made ourselves, we didn't get any photos of either of us.

But I got a photo of this outfit, which is actually a 1920s fancy dress costume based on the painting shown. That's probably better.

I can only think of one important question to close on here. Those shoulder roses, right? Right? Who wants shoulder roses?

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Berets, Wales, and cutting into the good fabric

As you might remember from her part in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Hat, my Mum lives in Wales, and I mentioned in an earlier post that I would be visiting her this year. Well, we have been, returned, recovered from jet lag, and fumbled our way back into our regular routines.

It was Spring, and a not unpleasant mix of cold and sunshine, with a generous sprinkling of lambs, daffodils, and blossoming cherry and pear trees.

Teacup had what might be the time of her relatively short life so far, learning to water plants, eating oregano straight off the plant, picking all the daisies she could find, playing with cats, and so on.

My husband and I pursued our separate interests while he was there, with him mostly launching himself at high speeds down things, like mountains, white water and zip lines, and me mostly enjoying scones. We only visited one castle, Dolwyddelan, which was on the way to Blaneau Ffestiniog, where he had a date with an underground zip line. Still, the castle was cold and windy, and there are at least five ways you can injure yourself on it, apparently, so I guess everyone was happy!

Rather than overdose you all with holiday snaps (not that I took that many, actually, as I was having too much fun relaxing and enjoying things and only occasionally remembering to pick up my camera), I'm mixing it up with some hats. On a theme though!

When I last visited, almost three years ago now, we discovered the Trefriw Woollen Mills, and I came home with three short pieces of gorgeous wool tweed. Which sat around waiting for me to have a design worthy of them. Which had to be very good, because this was lovely, expensive stuff, as well as being meaningful to me, and not something I could just pop over and get some more of any time I wanted.

Except that the years rolled on and I had actually popped over to Wales again before I had cut into two of the three colours (I made some of the brown into the "small chic beret"). So I decided that one of the first things I would make when I returned, would be a beret with one of my Welsh tweeds.

I don't feel the photos do the variegated colour of this fabric justice, and I'm still deciding how I feel about my beret pattern, but I'm glad I've used at least some of the good fabric. And I did buy more!

Berets have been one of the themes of my winter restock at The Blackheath Hub, and I'm happy to say (relieved, really) that they are all from fabric I had in my collection already. Because I really don't need to be buying more fabric! Using up this snow leopard faux fur is one of the great ongoing missions of my life, having some time in my youth decided to buy three metres of it. Hmmm. It's lovely, but it sure takes up a lot of space.

I love berets, and my own red one is a go-to everyday hat for me. This hounds-tooth below is also from an old coat, one that I picked up in an op-shop. You can't go too wrong with black and white, or with hounds-tooth wool.

I made a mix of the classic "French" circular berets and ones with a 6-panel crown. I think in general I prefer the sectioned crown, but it certainly wouldn't work for the faux fur! I tried the cheetah print in both. That's another one that has been lounging in my craft room for many years, having appeared before as a 1960s style hat. I've almost finished with that fabric and I'm thinking cheetah print butterfly cap for the last of it.

More of my quiet Wales adventures and more winter hats to come! Are you an adventurous holiday maker or more into relaxation and inspiration like me?

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Trove Pattern Project - 1953 Scarf Hat

Our pattern today comes from The Australian Women's Weekly, April 22, 1953. Exclusively designed for the magazine by a leading Australian milliner, Henriette Lamotte (no, I've never heard of her), this scarf hat made for an elegant and appealing cover photo for the issue. It drew me in.

If you are subscribed to the newsletter or follow me on social media, you may know that things did not progress well from there.

You can probably see what a simple hat this should be. If you look at the pattern, you might wonder how something so simple even could go wrong, but I managed it.

I muddled my way through my "quick" mock-up version, and there will be no "proper" version. I've done my best, with the help of my very soft-focus phone selfie camera, to make it look good, but the real story follows.

I feel like I have been spoiled by modern patterns, and even by vintage printed patterns, as to the level of instructions I expect. I want something to say "Attach scarf piece to headband piece along the front edge from A to B, right sides together....etc etc" not "Sew jersey scarf around headband over padding". And if I have to sew pleats, I want more than "...finishing with two small pleats to sweep scarf backwards." What? What? Where?

See those pleats? They are wrong. I couldn't work out what to do with them. Why would I even want the scarf to sweep backwards if I'm wrapping it around the front. When I put it onto my mannequin head and wrapped it, two pleats magically appeared on each side. Hallelujah! Now I get it. But they are definitely sweeping it forwards. Darnit.

Also, I need to warn you that you have to wear this draped or tied at the front. You can't just wear it loose. Unless you want to look like a nun. In which case go right ahead.

I suppose you might have a Sound of Music sing-a-long to attend or something.

So to sum up:
  • Confused the heck out of me.
  • I would have been better off taking the vague shape and idea, not reading the instructions and making it up for myself. I had to do a lot of that anyway and at least I wouldn't have felt I was being stupid for not understanding it.
  • I didn't try the instructions for making your own fringe. "Cut 200 15 inch lengths" didn't appeal to me.
  • I neither tried the instructions for making tassels nor used tassels at all. I am not a set of curtains.
  • It seemed like the headband pattern fit really well, but when I wore it today it was a bit too small. It was ok at first but kept sliding back. So test that out on your head before you start.
  • I was really stingy and bodgy on the padding so mine isn't as pleasantly plump as the original. 

Having said all that, it is kind of cute, and if you go for a lot of rides in open top cars in big sunglasses and big coats, it could be just the thing for you. I can actually imagine a number of you stylish vintage ladies in this, but I don't think it is the hat for me!

Let me know if you give this one a try!

If you missed the previous instalments, you can find them here: 1949 Pixie Hat, 1954 Scarf Hat, 1954 Butterfly Cap.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

"Selling Millinery" August 11, 1943

Today I'm bringing you some more snippets from the trade publication "Selling Millinery". This time it is the issue from August 11, 1943.

There are similarities, in both the trends and the type of information offered in these pages, to the 1942 issue I shared with you earlier.

Interestingly, they both talked about customer types, but the types given are different. For a start, no one has to panic about classifying themselves as the "careless, ungroomed" type any more. Phew.

Now you can be The Teen-Ager, The Colleger, The Camp Commuter, The Civilian Worker, The Youthful, Sophisticated Woman or The More Conservative Woman. In addition, they look at the most common outfit types too, and create suggestions based on how customer and costume type combine.

I'm generally not keen on admitting my type. I suspect I'm The More Conservative Woman. But with hats like these, I'm actually happy with that!

In addition, both papers talk about face shape. The 1942 issue talked face shape and body type, this one addresses face shape and features in combination with, well age I guess, although they don't say it precisely that way.

I feel like all the little magazine quizzes I used to do and all the little infographics the internet is now filled with, have a longer history than I realised. We have, apparently, always loved to know our "type", and always loved little charts.

I have an urge to write a quiz entitled "What mythical creature are you, what colour is its aura, and what kind of hat should you wear?"

This lady's inner mythical creature is an angry one. But she gets to wear a great hat.

Another similarity between the issues is in the trends themselves. They both report on military influences and "Good Ally Influences". What's new in this issue is the "7-Point Millinery Plan", a voluntary agreement from the millinery industry in the USA, restricting the amounts of different materials that can be used in a hat. While they talk in terms of restrictions, the rules are not exactly harsh!

They are also big on promoting retail to a noble art that has an important role to play for The Nation. Which, of course, it very much can be, but we don't often see it described in those terms.

It does come across as somewhat humorous to us, in a world where hats are not seen as a necessity, that they say "Sell only what your customer needs...every woman should own at least one tailored and one dress up hat."

I love that we get to see the photo of this turban and also the illustration in the classic 40s style sketch above.

Any favourites from these styles? I think I need both a Chesterfield Coat and the hat to go with it!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Millinery Movie Moments: Mr Lucky

The classic movie in the spotlight today is Mr. Lucky (1943). I was struck very early in the film by this tall sculptural felt hat that we see Dorothy (Laraine Day) wearing in her first meeting with Joe (Cary Grant) and in future scenes too. Look at the size of those loops.

Unlike my previous movie reviews, The Bishop's Wife and Dark Victory, the hats have no particular significance in the plot of this one. They're just lovely. I mean, seriously. Look at that hat again. I'll admit that you really need to see it in motion to get the full effect. I might have to make one.

Also, you get to see Cary Grant being taught to knit.

Dorothy only wears a few different hats, and that first one is my favourite. Mind you, we don't get to see much detail of this one.

This next is elegant, but not that exciting to me. Joe doesn't care for it either, actually.

This is one of those movies that makes me want to shout "Stop! Wait! Zoom in on that extra!"

I'm quite taken by this turban, for example.

Of course, the men look pretty dapper in their hats too.

There's a lot of knitting.

Now this isn't a hat. But I know some of you like your brooches, and this is a display you have to see.

All in all, since I'm a total sucker for a romantic comedy, I rate it "Adorable if Implausible" and recommend it if you like slick witty dialogue and cute couples. And hats you could drive a truck through.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The Sisterhood of the Hat - Jessica Cangiano

The travelling hat has been very busy lately! Just before she visited Joanna, she was spending time in Canada with the lovely Jessica of Chronically Vintage. Jessica, as you probably already know, is a super-sweetie and mega-stylish. Hers is one of the first vintage blogs I started to read and she also became one of the first to comment on my own little blog. I'm very glad she chose to join in the travelling hat project.

Jessica in the Travelling Hat

Naturally I recommend you pop over to Jessica's blog to see the rest of the outfit and some gorgeous close-up shots too.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Sisterhood of the Hat - Joanna

This member of the elite hat sisterhood is a very special one (well they all are, but still), because it was actually her travelling dress project that inspired me to start the travelling hat, and make Adelaide.

Yes, it's Joanna from Dividing Vintage Moments. And not surprisingly, if you are familiar with her style, Joanna has paired the hat with one of her many stunning coats. I have serious coat envy whenever I see Joanna's outfits, and this is no exception. What a perfect ensemble.

Look at the hat from this angle! What a great shot.

You can see more photos from Joanna on her instagram, and I also recommend you check out her blog, particularly the stylish adventures of the travelling vintage dress.

As for Adelaide, she has one more stop in the USA before she comes back to Australian shores! So exciting! Don't forget to keep up with the travels by signing up to the newsletter, as well as getting heaps of bonus content too.